On October 6, 2008 the Spokane City Council officially adopted legislation to establish the Office of Police Ombudsman. This Office was established to provide independent civilian oversight for misconduct complaints involving members of the Spokane Police Department. The Ombudsman’s Office is independent from all other City departments and reports directly to the Mayor and City Council. In addition to providing civilian oversight, the Office of Police Ombudsman may recommend policies and procedures for review and review and recommend changes in departmental policies to improve the quality of police investigations and practices.
The Office of Police Ombudsman exists to promote public confidence in the professionalism and accountability of the members of the Spokane Police Department by providing independent review of police actions, thoughtful policy recommendations and ongoing community outreach.
Provide equal, fair and impartial access to the services of the Office of Police Ombudsman without regard to age, race, gender, creed, color, nationality, sexual orientation, or socio-economic standing.
Insure that all individuals will be treated with courtesy, dignity and respect regardless of their attitude or demeanor.
Deliver service in a timely, thorough and objective manner.
The Ombudsman believes:
- In the empowerment of all people to solve problems and receive service.
- Individuals must be responsible and accountable for their personal and professional actions and behavior.
Code of Ethics
The Office of Police Ombudsman subscribes to and has adopted the National Association for Civilian Oversight of Law Enforcement Code of Ethics.
Tim Burns, Police Ombudsman
In August 2009 Tim Burns was appointed Spokane’s first Police Ombudsman. Tim is an accomplished professional who takes a realistic, no nonsense approach to problem solving and conflict resolution. Tim is a result driven professional with 37 years of experience in law enforcement, code enforcement, teaching, licensed contracting and conflict resolution. Tim has a reputation as a resourceful problem solver.
Tim is responsible for providing independent civilian oversight to the Spokane Police Department in conduct-related matters. Tim works under the direction of the Mayor and has prescribed authority through the Municipal Code. Tim frequently meets with the Spokane Police Administration, Spokane Police Department’s Internal Affairs Unit, special interest organizations and concerned residents.
Tim is a member of the National Association for Civilian Oversight of Law Enforcement (NACOLE) and the United States Ombudsman Association (USOA). In 2010 Tim was appointed to the NACOLE Professional Standards Committee. In 2011 Tim was elected to the Board of Directors for the United States Ombudsman Association.
In 2010 Tim was certified as a mediator through the Fulcrum Institute of Spokane, Washington.
Tim has been previous employed by the City of Visalia, California as the Neighborhood Preservation Division Manager, the City of Hollister, California as the Code Enforcement Officer and by the Town of Los Gatos, California as a Police Officer.
Tim graduated from San Jose State University with a Bachelor of Science Degree in the Administration of Criminal Justice with a minor in Sociology. He holds a life time, part-time, California Junior College Teaching Credential. Tim has advanced certifications from the Police Officers Standards and Training Commission (POST) and the California Association of Code Enforcement Officers (CACEO).
Melissa Nystrom, Assistant to the Ombudsman
Melissa Nystrom originally hails from Mount Vernon, WA. She graduated from the University of Washington with a Bachelor’s Degree in Communication and Sociology in 2005. Melissa went on to graduate from Gonzaga University School of Law with a Juris Doctorate Degree in 2009.
After graduating, Melissa spent two years working for Spokane Neighborhood Action Partners (SNAP), a local non-profit organization. She worked with the Long Term Care Ombudsman Program. There, Melissa helped coordinate a volunteer program of over 40 volunteers and directly advocated for the rights of individuals living in Long Term Care facilities like Nursing and Boarding Homes.
Melissa began working in the Office of the Police Ombudsman in February, 2012. Among other things, she acts as the main point-of-contact for citizens contacting the office. Additionally, in April 2012 Melissa was certified as a mediator through the Fulcrum Institute of Spokane, Washington.
Anna Vamvakias, Office of Police Ombdusman Intern
Anna Vamvakias is a native Californian, but now calls Spokane her home. Anna graduated from the University of California at Santa Cruz with a BA in psychology. She internened with a youth center in Watsonvile, CA , working with at risk youth in gang related problems. Subsequently, Anna went on to work in local government Mental Health departments in three counties in California and in Pierce County, WA in Crisis Intervention. Currently, Anna is completing a master’s degree in public administration and urban planning with an emphasis in tribal planning. She will graduate in 2014 from Eastern Washington University.
Cindy Hamamoto, Office of Police Ombdusman Intern
Cindy Hamamoto is originally from Japan and moved to Spokane at the age of ten. Cindy graduated from Mead High School and obtained her Associate’s Degree from Spokane Falls Community College through the Running Start Program. She is currently studying Criminal Justice and Sociology as a senior at Eastern Washington University. After graduation, Cindy hopes to pursue further education at Law School.
Tim Szambelan, Police Ombudsman Attorney
Tim Szambelan grew up in Chehalis, Washington. Chehalis is a small rural town 30 miles south of Olympia, Washington. In 1986, he received his undergraduate degree from Seattle University in Public Administration.
In 1987 Tim moved to Spokane to attend Gonzaga University School of Law. He graduated from Gonzaga University School of Law in 1990.
Upon graduation from law school, Tim worked at the Spokane law firm of Huppin, Ewing, and Anderson & Paul in their Litigation Department.
In 1991 Tim accepted a position with the Spokane City Attorney’s Office in the Criminal Division as a prosecutor.
In 1998 Tim transferred to the Civil Division of the City Attorney’s Office and currently represents the Ombudsman Office and other Departments within the City.
Tim is licensed to practice law in Washington and Arizona.
1986 SEATTLE UNIVERSTIY, Major: Public Administration
1990 Gonzaga University School of Law – Juris Doctoris
BAR ASSOCIATION POSITIONS
Washington State Young Lawyers Division President 1996-1997
Washington State Bar Association – Long Range Planning Committee 1997-1998
Washington Young Lawyer Division Trustee 1994-1996
Spokane County Young Lawyer President 1995-1996
Spokane County Young Lawyer Trustee 1992-1995
ABA Young Lawyer Director – Aspiring Youth Program Washington
History of the Public Sector Ombudsman
For as long as government has existed, guaranteeing citizens fair and equitable treatment under the law has been an issue and various protections have been utilized over the years. In modern times the public sector Ombudsman, where instituted, has been a successful and valuable guarantor of citizens’ rights. By impartial and independent investigation of citizens’ complaints, it has provided an informal and accessible avenue of redress.
The first public sector ombudsman (OM-budz-man, -buhdz-, -boodz-) was appointed by the Parliament of Sweden of 1809. The Swedish Constitution divided and balanced power between the king and Parliament with the king having executive powers and Parliament retaining legislative power. The ombudsman, who was appointed by and responsible to Parliament, was to protect individual rights against the excesses of the bureaucracy.
This first ombudsman’s office, since its creation, has been the model for the public sector ombudsman, and set the definition that is still accepted today: a public official appointed by the legislature to receive and investigate citizen complaints against administrative acts of government. These acts may or may not include the administrative acts of the judiciary or the legislature, depending upon the statute.
The ombudsman concept spread through Europe and to this continent with the first offices being established in the United States in the mid 60’s. This was a time in the United States when exposure of government secrecy and scandal, and when movements such as civil rights and good government created a political atmosphere more favorable to openness, and to establishing recourse for the aggrieved.
Hawaii established the first public sector office in 1967. Since then a number of states, counties and municipalities have followed suit by establishing offices of general jurisdiction.
The ombudsman movement in the United States has also been characterized by offices that represent a departure from the Swedish model. These variations would include offices with general jurisdiction but appointment by a governor or mayor, legislative offices with special jurisdiction such as corrections, and single agency ombudsman with statutory authority.