Carl Maxey, attorney and civil rights worker, said in 1975:
“There must be a viable method for getting a full and complete investigation when a death is caused by a policeman.” And 38 years later, our community’s long struggle for real oversight of police is at a pivotal moment–and YOUR voice is needed!
We won a 70% Yes vote for Police Accountability in February this year. Our votes mean our city charter now mandates independent investigations of police misconduct. And we’ll settle for nothing less!
But now, Mayor Condon has not only failed to negotiate for independent investigations in his new “tentative agreement” with the police union. He has also now produced a new ordinance that muddles the Ombudsman’s involvement in Internal Affairs-run investigations even further and clearly violates Prop 1–ALL with NO written assurances that the Police Guild won’t file a challenge against the ordinance. Police accountability advocates are calling this combination “the worst of all possible worlds.”
The 3 Most Important Things You Can Do:
1. NOW: email Councilmembers–vote NO on the contract AGAIN and NO on the ordinance. We won’t accept anything less than what our votes mandated in our city charter! (See below for sample message you can edit, and post your letter in the comments below!)
2. TOMORROW: come to the Mayor’s public forum Thursday Dec 12, 6pm to 8pm, at West Central Community Center, 1603 N. Belt.
3. MONDAY: come to City Council Monday Dec 16, starting 6pm to show your support for the will of the voters or to testify.
Tim Burns, the current Police Ombudsman, has testified to City Council that having the investigating body (Internal Affairs) inside the institution it’s investigating (the Spokane Police Department) constitutes “institutional bias.” Condon’s new ordinance would entangle the Ombudsman further into the institutionally biased process! We need to make sure Internal Affairs investigations are unbiased and complete–NOT prevent independent investigations from outside the Police Department. Let’s say NO to Condon’s ordinance and (again!) to the TA with the guild.
The Legal Background:
The Mayor’s office can’t point to one RCW or court decision that says an Ombudsman can’t perform independent investigations. There is a small chance that a court could rule that the right to do those investigations must be bargained for, so Mayor Condon should be spending his energy bargaining for it as required by our city charter. If the Guild doesn’t agree to bargain for it, an arbitrator will decide the issue. We would likely win given past decisions by the Public Employee Relations Commission. But if not, our legislators have told us that only after we lost at arbitration would they change state law to explicitly give cities the right to independent oversight–so even losing at arbitration would be a win. If the Mayor and Council simply accept a Tentative Agreement with the police guild that doesn’t comply with our city charter, we will essentially be saying that we will never try to pass any law that the Guild doesn’t agree to, which is the opposite of bargaining–and it’s contrary to our city charter and our state constitution which vests all power with the voters.
Dear Councilmembers, Council President, and Mayor Condon,
I am writing to urge you to reject the new proposed ordinance and the Tentative Agreement with the Police Guild. When Spokane voters gave our 70% yes vote to mandate independent investigations in our city charter, our community’s will was made crystal clear.
Our community deserves independent investigations. Our police department deserves independent investigations. It’s time! And we’ll settle for nothing less!
Mayor Condon should be spending his energy bargaining for independent investigations as required by our city charter. There is no substitute for independent investigations.
Post your letter in the comments below!