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Police records may be sealed

Ex-workers get chance to keep details from public

Three employees in the Spokane Police Department’s records division have resigned in lieu of being fired within the past two years, and now city leaders are giving them a chance to keep the details secret.

The former employees have until next Friday to ask the Spokane County Superior Court to block the release of personnel records requested by The Spokesman-Review.

If none does, the city of Spokane will release the records June 15.

The newspaper filed the request after police Chief Anne Kirkpatrick mentioned the three employees when discussing her disciplinary actions during a city Public Safety Committee meeting in April.

Kirkpatrick said the three cases involve internal problems and have “absolutely nothing to do with the abuse of authority or anything like that.”

“You can be a very fine person and find yourself sideways, and these are people who are just fine,” she said. “They need to be allowed to let this be behind them.”

Kirkpatrick didn’t know of the May records request or response until Thursday.

The city clerk’s office has responded to the request.

The city usually gives employees a chance to try to block records releases if the records include particularly sensitive information, such as salary requests, city spokeswoman Marlene Feist said.

“It’s pretty infrequent,” she said.

She couldn’t recall a city employee ever taking the city up on an offer to fight a records request.

The city wouldn’t pay for the legal work, Feist said; that would be up to the employee.

The incidents that led to the resignations – one employee retired instead of being fired – were not connected and not of public interest, Kirkpatrick said.

She told the public safety committee about the case not to draw attention to the employees but to show how she handles disciplinary issues, she said.

“It’s an issue of ‘Am I taking care of business?’ ” Kirkpatrick said.

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