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Wednesday, October 16, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Letter expressed concern about new precinct before Spokane police moved in

A member of the Spokane Police Guild complained about “inadequate and unsafe” working conditions at the police precinct in Spokane’s Intermodal Center before the downtown precinct moved there at the end of the year.

An unnamed officer working at the precinct sent a letter to guild President Sgt. John Griffin on Dec. 14, which The Spokesman-Review obtained via a public records request. It lists 12 concerns with the space at the Intermodal Center, including that it doesn’t have bicycle storage, a break room, locking file cabinets to protect confidential information, or a sink outside the bathroom for officers to fill water bottles.

The precinct was moved the last week of December to the new site from its previous location in the Peyton Building, next to the STA Plaza. The Intermodal Center is the city’s train and bus station, located at 221 W. First Ave.

Interim Chief Rick Dobrow said in an email Thursday that many of the concerns in the letter have since been resolved, though he did not elaborate.

The letter raises safety concerns about the layout of the new space, saying “the glass windows and entryways do not allow for safe entry or exit and windows are not bullet-proof.” Glass looking into precinct offices has been frosted, but shadows of people working inside can be seen through it.

City spokesman Brian Coddington said there are no plans to install bulletproof glass at the precinct.

“That’s just something that was not included in the plan. I don’t know why it wasn’t made part of the plan,” he said.

The letter also says the front counter is unsafe and suggests it have a design similar to the Public Safety Building, where officers staffing the desk have a panel of glass in front of them.

As for other issues raised in the letter, Coddington said:

  • The city is working to outfit an adjacent building for bike storage, and the Intermodal Center has room for about seven bikes on site.
  • While the space has no designated break room, officers have set up a table with several chairs in the precinct.
  • Officers have access to a kitchenette and locker rooms on the building’s secure third floor. The precinct is on the ground floor.

The controversial precinct move to the Intermodal Center resulted in Capt. Brad Arleth being placed on leave the first week of January after he moved furniture from the Peyton Building there. Officer Teresa Fuller, spokeswoman for the department, confirmed Thursday evening that Arleth has been returned to duty but said she does not know the status of the investigation into the insubordination complaint filed against him.

Dobrow has said Arleth’s leave was the result of a “serious violation of policy” and that the issue concerns more than furniture.

The letter to Griffin suggests Arleth was responding to concerns from his staff.

“There were desks moved from somewhere within the city to the Intermodal that are not functional for officers, detectives, or the upper brass. Again, no input from the people who will actually be using the desks to see what would be functional,” the letter reads.

Griffin did not respond to a call and email asking what action the guild took as a result of the complaint.

Dobrow said he only became aware of the guild’s complaints on Monday, after Griffin gave him a copy of the letter.

At a Jan. 21 news conference, Dobrow said in response to a question by a reporter that he was not aware of any formal or informal complaints or concerns from the guild about working conditions at the new precinct.

Coddington said city staff who worked on the move were not aware of the letter, but have still addressed many of the concerns.

Ed Lukas, the city asset manager who oversaw the project, said previously that Arleth made similar comments to him during a walk-through of the new precinct last summer.

The letter suggests the rank-and-file officers working out of the downtown precinct were not consulted about the design of the new space. Ten patrol officers, one sergeant and a detective, all guild members, work out of the precinct.

“There was no input requested from us as to what our needs would be,” the letter says.

The precinct move has drawn questions from City Council members about the alleged cost savings associated with the Intermodal precinct, which was originally presented by former Chief Frank Straub as a secondprecinct location.

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