Originally published by the Inlander (http://www.inlander.com/spokane/chapter-closed-andmdash-for-now/Content?oid=2266227)
by Heidi Groover
Even as some took the tone of a chapter closing, others left the council chambers thinking only of the work left to be done.
“I think we’re on the edge,” said local civil rights attorney Breean Beggs following an emotional city council meeting.
At its meeting Monday, the Spokane City Council approved a new contract agreement with the Spokane Police Guild, which raises officer pay 2 percent per year from 2012 to 2015, expands retirement benefits in 2016 and outlines some new roles for the Office of Police Ombudsman. After a unanimous rejection of the previous version of this agreement in November, Monday’s lone “no” vote was Councilman Mike Fagan, who called the agreement “too rich.” The agreement must still be approved by guild members.
The newest contract establishes a citizen commission to oversee the ombudsman, and allows that commission to order the ombudsman to do his own investigation if the ombudsman believes IA has not sufficiently investigated. (Ombudsman investigations must come after department decisions about officer discipline have been made.) The new agreement also allows the ombudsman to do preliminary investigations for the purpose of determining whether a complaint should go to IA and to publish closing reports about cases in which he is involved, as long as the reports do not include officers’ names.