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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Sirens & Gavels

Downtown police captain disputes finding in ‘furnituregate’

Spokane police Capt. Brad Arleth, who was reprimanded for moving office furniture during a relocation of the downtown precinct in late December, is disputing the finding that he was insubordinate.

In a rebuttal letter sent this week to interim law enforcement director Jim McDevitt, Arleth said the department mishandled the complaint against him by failing to interview key witnesses at City Hall, admitting comments he made expressing his opinion about the precinct move which were not relevant and denying a request to have the internal investigation reviewed by an Administrative Review Panel, which is typically done in more serious disciplinary cases.

Arleth moved used office furniture from the department's old downtown precinct in the Peyton Building to a new location at the intermodal center after he and his staff saw the supposedly "new" furniture at the intermodal center was 15 years old and ill-suited to their needs.

Assistant Chief Craig Meidl initially told Arleth he and his staff could move their existing furniture to the new location in mid-December, but city administrator Theresa Sanders and asset management director Ed Lukas said they didn't want the "new" furniture moved, according to emails released in the Internal Affairs investigation.

What happened after that is disputed. Meidl said he emailed Arleth and left him a voicemail clearly saying the furniture shouldn't be moved. According to a transcript in the report, Meidl told Arleth, "So, as far as the move, the furniture, the packing, all that is carved in stone" and "the direction from City Hall is going to be exactly what's happening."

In his IA interview, Meidl said that was a clear direction not to move the furniture. But Arleth and one of his lieutenants, Bart Stevens, didn't see it that way.

In a rebuttal letter, sent this week to interim law enforcement director Jim McDevitt, Arleth wrote:

I can find no documentation in the investigative file that shows anyone, including Lukas and Knight, had any intent that absolutely no furniture was to be moved from the Peyton Building. In fact, there is no evidence that anyone in SPD or from city hall ever gave an absolute restriction on one set of used furniture in its entirety moving or staying in place. 

Arleth also takes issue with the fact that only he, Meidl, Stevens and Sgt. Kurtis Reese were interviewed and that no attempt appears to have been made to determine who told Lukas and Knight that the furniture installed in the intermodal precinct was new.

The investigation was not sent to an Administrative Review Panel because former interim Chief Rick Dobrow did not want to make lieutenants on the panel review discipline against a captain, Arleth's letter says. He then says:

I find this troubling due to the fact that Interim Chief Dobrow directed the complaint be filed, made comments in roll call and other department briefings that would lead me to believe he had pre-determined the outcome, and appeared to not want other police senior staff to render an opinion.

Lt. Dave McCabe, president of the Lieutenants and Captains Association, filed a grievance on Arleth's behalf with city human resources director Heather Lowe earlier this week asking for Arleth to be exonerated. In that letter, McCabe re-states Arleth's claims that key witnesses were not interviewed and Dobrow appeared to have a pre-formed opinion of the accusations against Arleth.

Rachel Alexander
Rachel Alexander came to the Spokesman-Review in 2014 after working for the Walla Walla Union-Bulletin. She covers social services, health and science for the City Desk and writes a monthly data-focused column, Know Spokane.

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