LLPD sergeant dead following off-duty incident
By Josh Johnson
Splash Staff Writer
A memorial service was held May 2 for a Liberty Lake Police Department veteran who died April 25.
The service for Sgt. Clint Gibson was open to the public, and Liberty Lake Police Chief Brian Asmus and Mayor Steve Peterson were among those who honored the 12-year veteran of the police force.
Gibson, 41, is survived by his wife and four children – one son and three daughters, all of Spokane. The "Officer Gibson Children's Benefit Fund," No. 316352, has been set up at Spokane Teachers Credit Union. Donations to the fund can be made at STCU branches.
Gibson was found dead early on April 25 in his personal vehicle following a one-car accident in North Spokane. He was off duty at the time of the incident.
The incident occurred at approximately 1:45 a.m. in the 1000 block of West Francis Avenue.
The majority of the 10-member Liberty Lake Police Department gathered at the station later that day to grieve together and remember Gibson, who was "not just a sergeant here, but he was a good friend of mine," Police Chief Brian Asmus said.
Asmus said he received a call from dispatch at 2 a.m. informing him of the incident, and along with another Liberty Lake officer and Police Chaplain John Thompson, they notified Gibson's family. The LLPD family was also notified.
"We are all quite shocked by this," Asmus said. "Being a 10-person department, we are a family here, and so it is like losing a brother."
After Asmus and current Det. Ray Bourgeois, Gibson was the third officer hired by the LLPD, joining the department in April 2002. He received numerous commendations and was the recipient of the annual Chief's Award on three occasions. Asmus cited Gibson's leadership and innovative ideas as being major contributors to the success of the department. Among the programs implemented by Gibson was LLPD's bicycle patrol program, enhanced in-service training and a core value-based approach to policing that Gibson explained in a February interview with The Splash.
"We have eight core values, and we hold our officers to those core values," Gibson said in the article that appeared in the March issue. "We have more of a leadership approach than a management approach to our people. You can manage paperwork, but you have to lead people -- and that starts with the chief. He leads people, and he's not afraid to delegate."
At a press conference April 25, Asmus deferred credit for the values approach to Gibson.
"That's how we started running our department, basing all of our policies and procedures on those core values, and that was his idea," Asmus recalled. "It's been great."
Promoted to sergeant in 2007, Gibson oversaw the patrol officers for the department. He was also a firearms instructor, emergency vehicle operations course instructor, defensive tactics instructor and a member of the regional Special Response Team. He received his first-level supervisor career certification through the Criminal Justice Training Commission, and he was a graduate of the Northwest Law Enforcement Executive Command College.
Asmus said he was being trained in a way to prepare him for even further leadership responsibilities.
"He achieved so much, and he had great potential," Asmus said. "He had the potential of possibly being the next chief here as a matter of fact, whenever I left."
Asmus was joined by Mayor Steve Peterson at the news conference and flanked by other members of the LLPD family.
"You wish you'd never have to go through this process, but what (Gibson's) left behind is invaluable and will continue on," Peterson said. "He's left a mark on everyone's life for positive. We'll remember Clint for that, and we'll honor him for that."
Gibson was a native of Astoria, Ore. He spent time growing up in Alaska and Deer Park. He worked nearly 30 hours a week at a Deer Park grocery story during his junior and senior years of high school, putting the money away for college.
After completing the administration of justice program at Spokane Community College, Gibson began as a reserve officer with the city of Spokane Police Department in 1996. After that, he worked for police departments in Colfax and Pullman. When Lewis Griffin, former city administrator in Colfax, was hired in the same role with Liberty Lake, he called Gibson and told him the new city was launching its own police force.
Asmus said Gibson's last scheduled shift with LLPD was April 24.