Police chief fills four of 13 exempt positions
Four of the 13 new public safety departments created by the Spokane City Council on Monday will soon have permanent leaders likely to keep the bigger paychecks most of them started getting in January.
Police Chief Frank Straub said this week that he plans to ask the City Council soon to fill four of the six new departments created within the Spokane Police Department. Those four officials already are filling the roles in an acting capacity, he said.
• Cmdr. Joe Walker is the acting director of the Police Tactical Operations Department. He currently earns about $138,500.
• Cmdr. Brad Arleth is the acting director of the Police Field Operations Department. He currently earns about $144,200.
• Monique Cotton, police spokeswoman, will lead the Police Public Information Department. She currently earns $52,200 a year under a per-hour contract but could see her compensation climb as she transitions to permanent employment.
• Carly Cortright is the acting director of the Police Business Services Department. She currently earns about $80,600.
Walker, Arleth and Cortright received raises in January when they were promoted into their acting roles.
The City Council created the departments in a 4-3 vote on Monday. Supporters said it created the flexibility needed for police management to change the culture of the Police Department. Critics were angered by the significant increase in the number of managers who can be hired outside of the city’s civil service rules.
Straub said he will not hire assistant directors for any of the new departments and does not plan to hire directors for the newly created Police Communications Department or the Police Investigations Department.
“The idea was to create opportunities that as the department grows or the mission changes, there’s the ability to put people in those appointed positions,” Straub said.
Mayor David Condon said any raises would be paid for through cuts within the department, but not by cuts that would pull officers off the street.
Condon noted that when some administrators received raises this year they were paid for by eliminating other administrative positions, not by cutting front-line workers. Condon has eliminated all assistant director positions except for the assistant chiefs in the police and fire departments.
Cortright, who was a police planner until January, said a similar position to her new role was eliminated by former Chief Anne Kirkpatrick.
The council action also added seven new departments within the Spokane Fire Department. But Assistant Fire Chief Brian Schaeffer said the department doesn’t plan to fill new director positions for at least several months.
“It’s business as usual for us,” Schaeffer said.
Schaeffer said all the roles currently are performed by employees within the civil service system or by him. He said as managers within civil service retire, the department will consider filling the department director positions.
The first position that likely will be filled is the director of the Fire Training Department after Deputy Chief Bob Hanna retires later this year.
Straub acknowledged that the changes are confusing. In his department, two of his new department directors will still be referred to by their civil service title of commander.
“It’s a recognized rank in policing,” Straub said. “If you were in Kentucky and you said ‘I’m a commander,’ police personnel in Kentucky would get generally where that sits in an organizational chart.”