SPOKANE — Spokane police Chief Craig Meidl will head a statewide group of Washington’s police and sheriff’s department leaders.

The Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs, or WASPC, is made up of 39 elected county sheriffs, 240 police chiefs, and leaders of Washington State Patrol, Washington Department of Corrections and some federal agencies, according to a news release from the Spokane Police Department. Meidl was elected president by the WASPC board of directors at a conference this week.

The WASPC’s aim is to have the state’s law-enforcement agencies work more closely together. It also lobbies the state Legislature, conducts research and trains agencies.

Meidl will step into the position next year, but as soon as next week, he’ll be working with the group’s board of directors to determine what goals it will want to prioritize for the Legislature’s next session, he said.

As an example of how the WASPC has had an impact, Meidl said legislators were going to pass a law that required all jails and prisons to give medicine to inmates to ease withdrawal from drug abuse. The WASPC informed legislators that many smaller jails couldn’t afford the medication, and convinced lawmakers to change the bill’s language so it was not a requirement.

The new position “allows me to use our unique experiences in this community to influence the Legislature,” Meidl said.