Spokane Mayor David Condon and City Council President Ben Stuckart are pushing the police ombudsman commission to forge ahead and begin the process of appointing Bart Logue to the job.
They wrote a letter to the commission in the hopes it will end 15 months of uncertainty and turmoil in the ombudsman office.
Logue, a former diplomat and Marine Corps provost marshal, has been serving as interim ombudsman since early February. Condon and Stuckart say he should be hired to the permanent post.
“Mr. Logue has demonstrated his qualifications, character, and desire to serve in this capacity,” the letter said.
Stuckart said the letter was intended to reiterate a meeting he attended Friday with Condon, commission chair Deb Conklin and vice chair AJ VanderPol. During that meeting, Stuckart and Condon told commissioners they want to make sure the hiring process is moving forward following difficulties securing a visa for Raheel Humayun, the pick for a permanent ombudsman.
Logue said it would be inappropriate to comment on the letter or hiring process unless he’s offered a job, but he said he’d be willing to accept a permanent job.
Conklin said appointing Logue is outside the commission’s power. The hiring process prescribed by city ordinance requires appointing a five-member selection committee, which then forwards three candidates to the ombudsman commission. The ombudsman commission must select one of those three.
Conklin said she would oppose an effort to fast-track that process.
“The community needs to see … a robust process for selecting their ombudsman,” she said. “That person needs to have the confidence of the community.”
Conklin said the search committee appointed to select interim ombudsman candidates is willing to serve again to select the permanent ombudsman. That committee consists of ombudsman commissioner Scott Richter; former Mayor Dennis Hession; NAACP vice president and former Spokane County Jail officer Phil Tyler; Sgt. John Griffin, the president of the Spokane Police Guild; and Maj. Justin Lundgren, who runs police Internal Affairs.
Logue’s appointment came after a nearly yearlong search in which a hiring committee named three possible candidates for the permanent post. One was quickly disqualified during interviews based on online comments he made, and another was rejected after an investigator dug into complaints about his behavior as a supervisor at the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.
The remaining candidate, Humayun, is Canadian and was rejected for an expedited visa application in March. Commissioners decided in a 4-1 vote in March to continue tweaking the application and have Humayun reapply for the same visa at the U.S.-Canada border.
Commissioners were also pursuing a different visa application, due in April, that would have allowed Humayun to start work in October if he were selected in a lottery.
Conklin said the city’s human resources department didn’t complete the required paperwork in time to submit the application. Brian Coddington, the mayor’s spokesman, said the problem was that the Department of Labor rejected a supporting piece of documentation.
Logue said he’s assuming Humayun will take the job until he hears otherwise.
“It’s his job until it’s not his job,” he said.
Richter, who cast the lone vote against giving Humayun more time, said Monday he supported appointing Logue to the permanent position.
“I know what he’s been doing, and I know how he’s been engaging the community and taking the approach of looking at some of these old cases,” Richter said.
Richter has been a vocal advocate throughout the last year for filling the ombudsman position quickly, but he said his support of Logue was about more than “having a warm body in that chair.”
“To me he’s proved himself as very capable, and for that reason I’ve wanted him in that position for a while now,” Richter said.
Stuckart said the letter and discussion with commissioners was intended to express support for Logue and for moving forward with filling the permanent job. Neither Stuckart nor Condon is trying to tell commissioners who to hire.
“Hopefully they move forward, and hopefully they do consider him,” Stuckart said.
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