Investigation finds misconduct among three Ombudsman Commissione - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Investigation finds misconduct among three Ombudsman Commissioners, including Rachel Dolezal

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The eight findings in the report admonish the conduct of chair Rachel Dolezal and commissioners Kevin Berkompas and Adrian Dominguez. It has been forwarded to the City Council for review and determination of any action. The eight findings in the report admonish the conduct of chair Rachel Dolezal and commissioners Kevin Berkompas and Adrian Dominguez. It has been forwarded to the City Council for review and determination of any action.
SPOKANE, Wash. - The City of Spokane says an independent investigation into a whistleblower complaint filed against three members of the volunteer citizen Police Ombudsman Commission has found "behavioral misconduct during interactions with City employees." City of Spokane Communications Director Brian Coddington said eight findings of misconduct in the report include chair Rachel Dolezal and commissioners Kevin Berkompas and Adrian Dominguez. The report has been forwarded to the City Council for review. 

Dolezal recently resigned as President of the Spokane NAACP amid allegations from her parents that she is in fact white, and not black as she has been portraying for years. 

“We are deeply disturbed by the facts contained in the report of findings from the independent investigator,” Spokane Mayor David Condon and Council President Ben Stuckart said in a joint statement. “The conduct is unacceptable and falls far short of the community's expectations of volunteers who sit on City boards and commissions.”

The evidence and interviews conducted by the law firm Winston & Cashatt confirmed workplace harassment allegations, revealing a pattern of misconduct as well as specific incidents of harassment that might be viewed only as rude or unprofessional were it not for the ongoing pattern of harassment.

The report also states investigators uncovered additional abuses of authority, as well as violations of the Code of Ethics. The report states one or more of the Named Commissioners attempted to directly supervise the operation of the OPO, lied to investigators, failed to set aside biases toward police, engaged in unprofessional disrespectful conduct in public settings, and engaged in conduct that created a conflict of interest.At a press conference on Wednesday, Council President Ben Stuckart said after reading the findings in the report, the creation of a hostile work environment was "pretty horrific." 

The City Council told KHQ's Patrick Erickson they will remove the three commissioners by as early as Thursday. A letter was sent to them on Wednesday, giving them each 24 hours to respond to the findings. The letter send to Dolezal, Dominguez, and Berkompas reads: 

Dear Commissioners, 

On April 16, 2015, a whistleblower complaint was filed against three members of the Office of Police Ombudsman (OPO) Commission. Per the Spokane Municipal Code, an internal committee met to review the complaint and determine whether further action was warranted. This committee was composed of Brian McGinn, Nancy Isserlis, Heather Lowe, and Tim Dunivant. This committee review the complaint and determined, based on their preliminary examination, that it warrant a more thorough investigation. 

On May 4 the committee hired Collette Leland and Kammi Mencke Smith of the law firm Winston & Cashatt to perform an independent investigation. This investigation is complete and the report as been published on the City of Spokane's website at 
https://my.spokanecity.org/news/releases/2015/06/17/whistleblower-report-finds-commissioner-misconduct/  


Please read and review this report. The City Council take concerns of workplace harassment and claims of the creation of a hostile work environment very seriously. We are committed to a transparent, open and functioning OPO Commission. We also take very seriously the vital attributes of every commission: integrity and the maintenance of confidentiality. 


Our community is in the middle of hiring a new permanent Ombudsman, a process which needs to keep moving forward. Therefore, if you have comments on the report, please provide them to my self, in writing by noon on Thursday June 18th. We will be discussing this situation at a legislative session on Thursday June 18, 2015 at 4:45pm. We may choose to take action authorized by the Spokane Municipal Code at that time. 

Sincerely, 

Ben Stuckart


Council President Ben Stuckart told KHQ they have heard back from commissioners Dominguez and Berkompas, who said they did nothing wrong. Both have obtained legal council and are requesting more than 24 hours to respond. Stuckart said despite numerous attempts to contact her, Rachel Dolezal has not replied back. 

Stuckart said at a press conference on Wednesday that the findings in the report are not allegations and are found fact. Stuckart said the findings are a huge setback to the city and have made him sick to his stomach. When asked specifically about Dolezal and the firestorm that is surrounding her outside of the Ombudsman Commission, Stuckart expressed disappointment that instead of addressing the issues and "apologizing to the citizens of Spokane, she chose to fly off to New York." 

A selection committee has been interviewing applicants for the vacant ombudsman position. A press release is prepared to recommend three finalists after a  nationwide search. 



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