Chief of Police Frank Straub wants to find ways the department can unite with Spokane’s religious communities, possibly by creating a faith-based advisory group.
At a meeting Monday he met with a small group of Christian and Catholic leaders to discuss forming a quarterly group — similar to an advisory board he had success with when he served in Indianapolis, he said.
“It was a vibrant program for us; and it was needed to get the message out….and it was an opportunity for us to hear community concerns,” Straub said. “The church provides a different way to talk to people.”
Straub was sworn in as the city’s new police chief in October and has pledged to reduce violence in Spokane.
Currently the Spokane City Police Department has two full-time and six volunteer chaplains on staff, but a faith-based advisory group would serve a different role. That would be determined by members of the group once it’s officially formed.
The police department has worked with faith groups in the past, but interest fizzled out, explained Jim Nicks, former assistant chief of police. Nicks now works with Catholic Charities of Spokane and said the key to a successful advisory committee is getting a diverse group of churches and places of worship involved.
Straub said the first step is seeing if leaders from enough faith communities are willing to commit to working with the department. It’s crucial, he added, to have black and Hispanic churches involved on the board.
The Rev. Alan Eschenbacher of All Saints Lutheran Church, who would like to see a mental health chaplaincy form in Spokane, is taking the lead in forming the advisory board. To get involved contact him at (509) 838-4409 or email@example.com.