UNCUT: Spokane Mayor explains SPD Chief resignation calling it a "mutual decision" following complains from co-workers.
SPOKANE, Wash.-- Spokane leaders confirmed Thursday that former Police Chief Frank Straub plans to file a tort claim Monday against the City of Spokane, Mayor David Condon, Spokane's legal department. Documents released Thursday showed he wants $4 million.
The Spokane Police Chief Frank Straub resigned in September 22. The decision comes after a meeting where some members of the Spokane Police Department submitted letters summarizing their concerns about his management style.
"I am very proud of the work that has been done to re-engage the Spokane Police Division with the community and drive down crime," Straub said during his resignation. "We have achieved great things and brought policing in Spokane closer to the community. Rather than engage in a public discussion that distracts from making Spokane safer I have told the Mayor that it is time for new energy and perspective."
However on October 8, he filed a Claim for Damages stating he would be asking for $4 million. The claim cites a "Violation of due process in termination."
A letter from Straub's lawyer Mary Schultz, included in the claim, states that she believes Straub was fired September 21 and did not resign as previously released.
Schultz claimed City Administrator Teresa Sanders texted Straub at 6:39 a.m. on Sept. 21 and required him to report to Mayor Condon for a 7:00 a.m. "meeting" of announced content. She goes on to write that the meeting was delayed until 7:50 a.m. and which time Condon and Sanders told Straub he would be "discharged" immediately unless he submitted a resignation.
Yet in September, Mayor David Condon called the resignation a "mutual decision"
Schultz wrote that Straub was informed about letter written by co-workers who complained about his leadership. Yet, she contends that Straub was not shown the letters. Straub first saw the letters Tuesday and was "given nothing more than an alleged opportunity to participate in a press release that day," wrote Schultz.
She claimed Straub was denied an investigation at the meeting as well.
In a response to the letter, Mayor Condon released a statement that said:
"This is unfortunate as we would like to move the Spokane Police Division forward without distraction. We received a signed resignation letter Tuesday morning, but because of a pending claim cannot comment further."
At the time Straub's resignation was announced, City leaders confirmed he would be reassigned to the City Attorney. They also said Straub's last day of City employment would be Jan. 1, 2016.
However, Schultz claimed City leaders initially wrote a press release stating Straub would leave the Spokane Police Division entirely. She said Straub was unable to gain a retraction by by 4:07 p.m.
"Frank Straub was fired. He was removed from the City website, and Rick Dobrow was out doing interviews as the new police chief before Frank was even able to turn in his badge," added Schultz.
Straub's lawyer called the City's handling of Straub "gratuitously damaging" stating that the profession process should have contained the following steps; sitting down with Straub, discussing the allegations, hearing his side and then investigating the claims.
"He served our City well," she added. "But for some reason, this City's administration chose to do hatchet job on him only three months before his term ended."
Prior to Straub being removed from his post, the Police Guild and members of the Lieutenants and Captains Association said they have held three meetings for members to voice concerns about Straub's degrading treatment. A letter sent to the City Attorney on behalf of these groups stated, "These actions taken by the Chief of Police, in his official capacity, against subordinate members of this agency constituted a pattern of behavior dating back over two years. It often included profanity, personal degradation, or other behavior not becoming the office of the Spokane Police Chief."
The former business services director says she received constant negative feedback from former Police Chief Straub.
Former business services director for Spokane Police Department, Carly Cortright, said Straub gave her constant negative feedback during her time there. Eventually, Cortright said she transferred to a different department within the city.
As of September, Straub will receive the same salary as he would have if he was still chief, $179,484 per year. That number does not include benefits. According to a city spokesperson, Straub still has 140 hours of vacation left and he is eligible to be paid for any he does not use. Straub also has 32 hours of floating holiday time which he is not eligible to be paid out for. He is eligible to use that time between now and January 1, but taxpayers will not be responsible for paying that if he does not use it.
Straub will not receive retirement benefits. A city spokesperson said the vesting period necessary to receive those benefits is five years, and Straub will have served only three when he leaves.