Judge dismisses Knezovich complaint against state training commission

<p><p>A Spokane judge dismissed Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich’s complaint against a state training commission and affirmed its decision to reject his proposal to run a new law enforcement training academy.</p></p><p><p>Superior Court Judge Charnelle Bjelkengren handed down her decision last week after numerous filings by both parties. That decision became publicly available Wednesday.</p></p><p><p>Knezovich said he’s unhappy with the decision and is looking to appeal.</p></p><p><p>“I don’t think the judge really grasped the actual circumstances that surrounded this case,” Knezovich said.</p></p><p><p>In September 2020, the Washington State Criminal Justice Training Commission <a href=”https://www.spokesman.com/stories/2020/sep/09/commission-votes-unanimously-against-shortened-tra” target=”_blank”>unanimously rejected</a> Knezovich’s <a href=”https://www.spokesman.com/stories/2020/sep/06/knezovich-to-propose-pilot-for-shorter-training-pr” target=”_blank”>proposal for a pilot training program</a> that would break with the state’s centralized training policy for all peace officers.</p></p><p><p>The sheriff’s office filed a request to the commission for an adjudicative proceeding to review the decision.</p></p><p><p>That was rejected in December 2020.</p></p><p><p>Knezovich, represented by the Spokane County Prosecutor’s Office, filed a <a href=”https://www.spokesman.com/stories/2021/jan/23/spokane-county-sheriff-ozzie-knezovich-files-compl” target=”_blank”>petition for review of agency action in January</a>, alleging the commission’s decision was “arbitrary and capricious.”</p></p><p><p>Bjelkengren found the decision by the training commission was rooted in the policy that peace officer training is centralized in the state and exclusively offered by the commission.</p></p><p><p>The commission voted in line with its policies and historic practice, Bjelkengren wrote in her ruling.</p></p><p><p>Knezovich said the Spokane Police Department is allowed to run its own Basic Law Enforcement Academy in Spokane.</p></p><p><p>“If it all works for SPD, why couldn’t it work for us?” Knezovich said.</p></p><p><p>The Spokane Police Department does not run its own training program. The Spokane academy is run by the state training commission using instructors from the police department and sheriff’s office, who are certified by the commission.</p></p><p><p>“The academy in Spokane is run by the CJTC,” Myers confirmed.</p></p><p><p>The judge dismissed Knezovich’s petition for review because the vote was not an adjudicative proceeding, which would have given Knezovich more rights for an appeal. She also found he didn’t have a right for an adjudicative proceeding and that the court did not have subject matter jurisdiction because Knezovich did not file the petition for review in a timely matter.</p></p><p><p>Lastly, the judge noted that the issue is moot because of an update to state law this year that says the commission “shall” provide training and has the sole authority to do so.</p></p><p><p>Jeff Myers, chair of the commission and Hoquiam Police Chief, said he shared his concerns about the proposed training program with Knezovich before the vote and during the public meeting.</p></p><p><p>“As far as I’m concerned, neither the denial by the commission or the denial by the court should be a surprise to the Spokane sheriff,” Myers said.</p></p>