SPOKANE, Wash. -- The City of Spokane and the Spokane Police Guild reached a tentative agreement that adds a fifth year to the contract, includes language for three mechanisms of independent investigations and empowers the ombudsman to publish closing reports.
The tentative agreement allows for independent investigations when an internal affair decides not to open an investigation or if internal affairs declines further investigation when requested by the Office of the Police Ombudsman (OPO).
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“This agreement includes the elements requested by the City Council and the public, and delivers to the community unprecedented independent oversight of its police department,” Mayor David Condon said.
The tentative agreement adds a fifth year to the contract while maintaining the average total cost of compensation at 2.76 percent for the duration of the deal. The revised agreement also includes language that extends the authority of the ombudsman to conduct pre-investigation follow-up interviews of complaints made directly to the OPO.
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Additionally, the citizen Police Ombudsman Commission can order independent investigations when:
• It believes the internal affairs investigation has not gone far enough with its inquiry (conducted by a third party), or
• Internal affairs declines to open an investigation (conducted by the ombudsman)
The citizen Police Ombudsman Commission makes the final decision as to whether further investigation is necessary, and the ombudsman publishes a closing report. The ombudsman also retains its current authority to attend all administrative internal affairs interviews, ask questions, review the complete case file and make a determination as to the thoroughness and objectiveness of the investigation.
“On January 2nd, I sent a letter to Mayor Condon, on behalf of a majority of the City Council, asking that he reopen negotiations with the Police Guild to include independent investigation capabilities for our police ombudsman that align with the City Charter,” said City Council President Ben Stuckart. “I believe this new tentative agreement satisfies our request and takes a step forward for our community. I appreciate the Police Guild and the administration for getting this done.”
The City Council was scheduled to vote on the tentative agreement during its Monday meeting. The deal must also be approved by the police guild membership, which is expected to vote later this month, before it is implemented.