Spokane Community Against Racism (SCAR) was formed in 2017 in response to community outrage stemming from the not guilty verdict of a Spokane jury that ruled it was self-defense for a white man to shoot a Black man in the back from thirty feet away. The focus of SCAR then and now is to address the brokenness of a criminal justice system that allowed a verdict like that to happen, and to bring accountability to all facets of that system. The Spokane Police Department is an integral part of Spokane’s flawed criminal justice system.

According to Mapping Police Violence, the Spokane Police Department ranks third deadliest among the 100 largest police departments in the nation (mappingpoliceviolence.org/cities).

Here is how Mapping Police Violence arrived at that ranking:

From 2013 – 2020, Spokane had an average death rate of 2.125 police killings per year (17 total deaths ÷ 8 years). Spokane’s death rate was then standardized to a population of 1 Million–as was every city analyzed by Mapping Police Violence–so that cities of different sizes could be accurately compared to each other.

To standardize, Spokane’s death rate of 2.125 was divided by Spokane’s population of 214,804 (from the

2018 census) to get .00000989. That figure was multiplied by 1 Million, for a total of 9.9 deaths per million per year.

Here is how Spokane ranks:

1. St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department 16.9 deaths/million/year

2. Oklahoma City Police Department 10.4

3. Spokane Police Department 9.9

4. Phoenix Police Department 9.7

5. Tulsa Police Department 9.6

It would be easy to argue back and forth about the methodology used by Mapping Police Violence, or debate whether Spokane’s ranking reflects “the real story” of police violence in our community, but this would be a distraction from the real issue:

The Spokane Police Department is killing a lot of people, 17 of our community members in the past 8 years, and the SPD is killing more people than police departments in cities with populations much larger than ours. These facts are not in dispute.

SCAR does not want to fight with police, but against a flawed system of criminal justice that harms, oppresses, and kills members of our shared community. Our efforts to improve Spokane’s criminal justice system aren’t about winners and losers, or driven by “us versus them” politics, but are rooted in the goal of building a community where everyone wins a little more every day. We invite Chief Meidl, and the Spokane Police Department, to join us and the community. Let’s roll up our collective sleeves and embark on the long overdue and critically needed work of figuring out how to make the killing stop.