Police

Spokane Still Waiting For Police to Agree to Independent Oversight Overwhelmingly Approved by Voters in February

Game over for democracy?

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not the empire state building
JDubman/Wikipedia

It's going to take Spokane, Washington at least a year to put into effect the independent oversight of the police department voters approved by a more than two to one margin last February. The city council voted to postpone until next February consideration of a new labor agreement between the town and the police. The oversight required by the voter-approved ordinance has to be implemented via the police union contract because labor regulations consider matters like oversight workplace issues subject to bargaining. The police, so far, have not agreed to terms supporters of oversight consider sufficient, while the mayor, along with the police chief, have been pushing to leave the disciplinary portion of independent oversight in their (by definition non-independent) hands.

Via the Spokesman-Review:

Under the latest plan, ombudsman would participate in internal investigations and subsequently report findings to an unpaid citizen board appointed by the mayor and Spokane City Council. If the board finds the internal investigation was insufficient, the board can call for additional investigation or the introduction of a third party to conduct a separate investigation.

In November, the council rejected the proposed police contract because it did not allow for enough independence by the ombudsman.

[Police chief Frank] Straub warned that rejecting the proposed contract would send negotiations to a state arbitrator, who could order larger salary increases than the 2 percent annual increases called for in the proposed agreement.

Collective bargaining privileges shouldn't be a suicide pact for cities, and certainly shouldn't trump the "democratic process."

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  1. If the police department doesn’t follow the law, dissolve it and start.over.

  2. “Fuck you, that’s why.”

  3. Does anybody know of any citizen review board that actually works? One that actually has the power to compel testimony and has access to all the police documents and actually can issue punishments for police misconduct – and isn’t majority controlled by ex-law enforcement and law enforcement-friendly stooges?

    I know of several cities that have gone through several iterations of citizen review boards; every time there is some major scandal they discover to their astonishment that the citizen review board doesn’t actually work the way it’s supposed to so they put together a new panel, promising this time that it will function as it’s supposed to and be a real check on police misconduct.

    I’m not going to hold my breath waiting for news of a citizen review board that actually works.

    1. Every citizen review board I’ve ever seen seemed to be staffed by ex-cops and union stooges.

    2. Under the latest plan, ombudsman would participate in internal investigations and subsequently report findings to an unpaid citizen board appointed by the mayor and Spokane City Council.

      Where would this ombudsman come from? The police department, the prosecutor’s office, the mayor/city council offices? Doesn’t the mayor/city council appoint the chief of police or police commissioner in Spokane like in most places – meaning a less-than-adversarial relationship with the police?

      How about we have an ombudsman or a plurality of the citizen review board come out of the public defender’s office? Aren’t those guys pretty knowledgeable about the law and police procedures and therefore well-qualified to investigate and judge police (mis)conduct?

  4. [Police chief Frank] Straub warned that rejecting the proposed contract would send negotiations to a state arbitrator, who could order larger salary increases than the 2 percent annual increases called for in the proposed agreement.

    Explicitly admitting the arbitrator is a captive and servant of the union?

  5. The oversight required by the voter-approved ordinance has to be implemented via the police union contract because labor regulations consider matters like oversight workplace issues subject to bargaining.

    Breaking the law under color of authority (or whatever the legal term is) is not a “workplace issue”.

    Special prosecutors and trial in open court are the answer.

  6. The cops have a sweet deal. New laws don’t apply to them unless they agree to it.

    Shame I can’t get the same deal.

  7. Sometimes man you jsut have to roll with it.

    http://www.AnonGoes.tk

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