Once again the pusillanimous Spokane city mayor and council have put off the vote on whether to provide the police ombudsman with additional investigative powers to be implemented at his initiative and discretion.
The apparent stumbling block is the threat from the Police Guild to challenge such grant of authority as imposing on the labor negotiation process dealing with hours, wages and conditions of employment. What a red herring! Certainly conditions of “employment” do not allow management to abdicate its accountability responsibilities.
The real issue is whether the disciplinary process is a subject of “mandatory bargaining.” The city’s position should be that it is not. See: Mt. Vernon v PERB, 289 A.D.2d 674, motion for leave to appeal denied, 97 N.Y.2d 613 (http://publicpersonnellaw. blogspot.com/2010/05/negotiating- contract-disciplinary.html).
However, if the ombudsman’s authority is enhanced, it should include the ability to investigate complaints against the chief and any assistant chiefs – not just rank-and-file. Failure to impartially uphold the laws of the state of Washington would be a basis for such a complaint.
Retired Spokane police captain