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Office furniture the cause of police captain’s administrative leave

Cmdr. Brad Arleth (Jesse Tinsley / The Spokesman-Review)
Cmdr. Brad Arleth (Jesse Tinsley / The Spokesman-Review)

Brad Arleth, the Spokane Police Department’s downtown precinct captain, was placed on leave Monday after a city administrator filed a complaint alleging Arleth was insubordinate when he moved furniture to a new precinct location.

A source inside City Hall with knowledge of the investigation confirmed Wednesday that the complaint against Arleth filed last week was related to the move of the downtown precinct from the Peyton Building on Riverside Avenue to the city-owned Intermodal Center.

Interim police Chief Rick Dobrow placed Arleth on leave Monday after learning of the complaint, but refused to disclose details about the internal investigation Tuesday, saying only that it was related to a “serious violation of policy.” He again declined to comment Wednesday.

City Council President Ben Stuckart said if the allegations against Arleth are about furniture, “The whole thing is unfathomable to me.”

Stuckart and Councilman Jon Snyder, who is chairman of the Public Safety Committee, both said earlier this week they’ve had good experiences with Arleth.

Mayor David Condon said through a city spokeswoman that he was not aware of the specifics of the complaint and had no comment on the allegations against Arleth. Asked if the allegations warranted placing Arleth on paid administrative leave, he said, “Paid administrative leave is a tool that we use to allow for a fair evaluation in personnel issues for both the city and the employee.”

A precinct at the Intermodal Center – the train and bus station on the east end of downtown – was first proposed in February by former Chief Frank Straub, who said the new location would serve as a second downtown precinct. When Dobrow took office after Straub’s ouster last fall, he announced plans to move the downtown precinct to the new location, saying it would save money to house the precinct in a city-owned building.

Arleth wanted to move office furniture from the Peyton Building precinct to the Intermodal Center, but was told the city would provide new furniture, the source said. When the furniture was delivered, however, Arleth found it was poor quality and decided to move the precinct’s existing furniture to the new location. That action prompted a city administrator to file a complaint alleging insubordination, the source said.

The police department was not paying rent, utilities or maintenance costs to sublease the Peyton Building space from the Downtown Spokane Partnership, according to the lease agreement published on the city’s website. That lease was due to expire at the end of May, but Downtown Spokane Partnership President Mark Richard said Tuesday the partnership would likely have renewed the rent-free arrangement if the precinct had not moved.

At the city-owned Intermodal Center, the police department is not paying rent, but will eventually pay a monthly fee covering its share of utilities and maintenance costs, city asset management director Ed Lukas said Tuesday. The precinct moved last week and is now housed in the new space.

The police department is also reimbursing the Downtown Spokane Partnership $2,500 per month for the vacant space in the Peyton Building until a new tenant is found or the lease expires at the end of May.

Dobrow referred questions about cost savings to city asset management. Lukas said Tuesday that the move has cost benefits by providing better protection for city property – the building – and making it easier for officers to respond to reported crimes near the Intermodal Center. But he acknowledged it would not save money in direct costs like rent and maintenance fees.

Stuckart questioned the claim that the move would save the city money.

“I don’t understand where the savings is,” he said.

Stuckart said he would ask for an explanation at the next Public Safety Committee meeting.


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