Sheriff and NAACP President Update Efforts to Discuss Racial Disparity and Criminal Justice/Policing in Spokane County
At a press conference on August 5, 2020, Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich, Spokane NAACP President Kurtis Robinson, and Spokane NAACP Vice President Kiantha Duncan updated stakeholders concerning the landmark agreement reached by President Robinson and Sheriff Knezovich in September of 2019.
The signed document affirmed their commitment to open and honest data-driven discussions regarding racial disparity, and to develop a race equity strategic plan to be implemented in a long-term sustainable fashion.
Today’s announcement stems from the landmark agreement reached by these two community leaders last September, which unfortunately was paused due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Today’s announcement stems from the landmark agreement reached by these two community leaders last September, which unfortunately was paused due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This work continued to move forward as a direct result of the Sheriff’s Office and staff, Dr. Edward Byrnes, Spokane NAACP Executive Committee Members Le’Taxione & Devon Wilson, and Spokane NAACP Criminal Justice Committee Advisor Natashia Hill.
The agreement specifically notes the following three processes:
1) Conduct an internal cultural inventory using an outside source, incorporating community accountability mechanisms, to evaluate the Department’s racial inclusion and race equity-based competence;
2) Develop a race equity strategic plan; implemented in a long-term, sustainable fashion.
3) Generate a commission report on stops, arrests, and use of force that includes a breakdown by race, gender and areas/districts.
Commenting on the landmark agreement reached with Sheriff Knezovich, NAACP President Robinson said, “I believe integrity invites transparency and seeks out accountability. I am encouraged by the progress we’ve made together and I look forward to working together to find solutions to the racial disparity our community faces.”
The work on “process (1)” will start immediately, with the identification and selection of a mutually agreed upon, generally unbiased, neutral entity, with the desire to begin this study in September.
Sheriff Knezovich stated, “Based on the data compiled to date, there is a racial disparity concerning the arrests of African Americans and Native Americans. It is important to acknowledge this fact and, more importantly, identify what is driving these disparities. With this knowledge, we can identify solutions to an issue our community has faced for many years.”