City Council Rejects Tentative Agreement With Police Guild - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

City Council Rejects Tentative Agreement With Police Guild

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Monday afternoon the Spokane City Council unanimously rejected a tentative contract agreement with the Spokane Police Guild citing the lack of investigative power for the ombudsman. Monday afternoon the Spokane City Council unanimously rejected a tentative contract agreement with the Spokane Police Guild citing the lack of investigative power for the ombudsman.

Monday afternoon the Spokane City Council unanimously rejected a tentative contract agreement with the Spokane Police Guild, specifically citing the lack of investigative power for the ombudsman. Last February, a city charter amendment for independent ombudsman authority was approved by 69% of the voters.

The tentative agreement was negotiated by Mayor Condon and his staff. After the decision was made by the council, Mayor Condon's office put out this statement:

"We had hoped the City Council would embrace the important next step toward independent oversight at a cost the citizens could afford. We had negotiated an approach that provided independent oversight and allowed us to use the investigative information as part of discipline. Now we start over.

Lost in today's rushed decision are body cameras, a critical oversight component, and the Police Ombudsman Commission. It is apparent we need to work with the City Council and the Police Guild to avoid binding arbitration and get for the citizens of the Spokane the protections and oversight they need."

Council members are hoping the police guild will go along with independent investigative power. Basically, whether the ombudsman would be allowed to conduct investigations of the police department outside of internal affairs. 

There was a public forum scheduled for Wednesday evening to discuss police oversight, but because no agreement was reached, that meeting has been canceled. The forum was scheduled to receive public input on both the tentative agreement with the Police Guild and accompanying draft ordinance.

KHQ spoke with Council President Stuckart at Monday evening's City Council meeting, and later in the night he sent us this statement: 

"At the 3:30pm Public Session, the Spokane City Council rejected the Tentative Agreement reached between the Mayor's office and the Spokane Police Guild by a 7 to 0 vote.

Spokane citizens have strongly expressed the need for more robust Police Ombudsman oversight for many years. Past City Councils and this City Council have worked to achieve independent oversight for the Police Ombudsman, even asking to be participants in the contract negotiation with the Police Guild. Councilmembers Salvatori and Allen took the lead earlier this year in bringing forward a City Charter change ensuring that the city's "constitution" contained language guaranteeing independent investigation. Voters approved this measure by 70%.

When the tentative agreement (TA) was released to the community and City Council, concerns were immediately raised about whether the agreement met the Ombudsman language in the City Charter, specifically around independent investigative authority.

Despite these concerns, over the last three weeks, Council members, community members, members of the Guild and the Administration attempted to develop an ordinance that more clearly defined the Ombudsman's authority and would accompany City Council's approval of the TA. The hope was to present this ordinance to the community at public hearings for feedback over the next three weeks.

Today it became clear to the entire City Council that developing an ordinance based on the language in the negotiated TA would not meet the needs of independent oversight.

Council President Stuckart concluded testimony at the Council meeting by calling on the Administration to reopen negotiations with the Police Guild and renegotiate independent investigatory Police Ombudsman authority.

The public forums scheduled for November 13, November 20, and December 4 have been cancelled."

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