Tentative police contract strengthens oversight

Brian Coddington, Communications Director, 509.625.6740

Friday, November 1, 2013 at 8:41 a.m.

Spokane Mayor David Condon outlined today a tentative agreement with the police guild that includes strengthened independent citizen oversight of the police department and pushed for resolution on drafting an ordinance that would set the policies to implement an ombudsman commission.

The agreement with the guild furthers top community priorities and includes provisions for outfitting officers with body cameras, another part of the Use of Force recommendation to enhance police oversight. The financial terms of the agreement allow the police department to add 25 new officers as proposed in the 2014 budget.

“Our police department is making significant strides toward implementing the Use of Force Commission recommendations,” Condon said. “This agreement is an important next step as we build the safest city of our size.”

A working group that includes representatives of the City administration, the City Council, Spokane Police Guild and community stakeholder groups has been meeting separately to draft an ordinance that would establish a process by which a citizen committee selects the police ombudsman and an independent Police Ombudsman Commission to conduct investigations. That group will continue to meet.

“I had hoped to also be talking about a draft ordinance today that even further expands citizen investigative oversight,” Condon said. “Rest assured we will continue to work toward a draft that is consistent with Proposition 1 and state law.”

The guild contract also includes changes to pay and benefits. It adds a 2 percent base wage increase retroactive to 2012, adds education pay incentives in 2014 and increases employee healthcare contributions.

“The Spokane Police Department and its officers are fully committed to providing the best service we can to the community,” Police Chief Frank Straub said. “That is why you will continue to see a department that is dynamic and constantly evolving to meet our three goals of crime reduction, implementation of Use of Force Commission recommendations and engagement with the community we serve.”

The tentative agreement, which has been signed by City administration and the police guild, must still be approved by the City Council. It is available at spokanecity.org.

The City Council has scheduled the first of three public forums to discuss police oversight for Nov. 13 in the City Council Chambers. Additional meetings are scheduled on Nov. 20 (West Central Community Center) and Dec. 4 (Northeast Community Center). All are begin at 6 p.m.

“We have a good police department,” Condon said. “The public engagement that comes with additional citizen oversight will make us better.”