On Monday May 20th the Spokane City Council unanimously passed a resolution that lays out their expectations for Mayor Condon’s negotiations with the Spokane Police Guild. This resolution is an important step forward to guide the future implementation of Proposition 1, which passed in February 2013 with a 70% yes vote. Proposition 1 amended the Spokane City Charter to mandate the Office of Police Ombudsman conduct independent investigations of complaints about police conduct with public reporting and to create a Commission to guide and review the work of the Ombudsman.
This May resolution, supported by PJALS, the Center for Justice, and the League of Women Voters, now goes further to lay out the legislation needed to implement Proposition 1. For years the community has called for oversight and transparency and these principles are reflected in this resolution. We would like to thank Councilmembers Allan and Salvatori, along with others, for their diligent and collaborative work on passing this resolution.
We also support the May resolution’s new concept of the Community Impact Case, which will give the OPO, along with the commission, authority to identify situations that deserve investigations even if no formal complaint has been filed.
We still have our reservations about the Screening Committee, which chooses the top OPO candidates from whom the Mayor would choose a finalist. Under the May resolution, the Screening Committee would continue to include representatives from the Police Guild and The Lieutenants & Captains Associations. We believe it is a conflict of interest for the OPO to be selected with the influence of those who are subject to his or her oversight. Although it’s a step forward for them to have less influence than in the current model, it is still inappropriate.
Mayor Condon and his team have been in contract negotiations with the Police Guild for 18 months. Proposition 1, unfortunately, cannot be fully implemented until Mayor Condon succeeds in resolving negotiations. This May resolution conveys a clear standard to Mayor Condon and his team regarding what success in negotiations must allow in terms of oversight and transparency.
Mayor Condon’s team carries the responsibility of reaching the agreements needed so that the City can implement the will of the people who voted an overwhelming 70% yes on Proposition 1 for simple, common sense police accountability.
With passage of this resolution, we as a community now look to Mayor Condon to get it done!