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The City of Spokane and the Spokane Police Guild have reached a tentative agreement on a 5-year contract that meets City Charter requirements for independent police oversight, the parties jointly announced today.
The contract, which has been negotiated over the past four years, would be retroactive to 2017 and run through the end of the current calendar year. The full Guild membership and the City Council must still vote on the contract. That process could take a few weeks to complete.
"This contract meets the dual needs of the community to show support for its police officers and gain greater clarity on civilian oversight," Mayor Nadine Woodward said. "Spokane and the Spokane Police Department have been a leader in police accountability reform and this contract is an opportunity to continue leading."
The average total cost of compensation (salary and benefits) is 3.5 percent for each of the five years of the contract. Compensation for 2021 is within the 2021 budgeted amount the City Council approved in December and will be paid out of the current operating budget. The retroactive pay for years 2017 through 2020 will come from reserves.
The contract makes significant additions to the section covering independent oversight. Notably, the contract:
- Extends the authority of the ombudsperson to the assistant ombudsperson, including the ability to participate in internal affairs interviews, request further investigation, recommend mediation, make the determination that an investigation is thorough and objective, review and provide input on internal affairs case summaries, and attend review board meetings for uses of force, collisions, and deadly force
- Expands ombudsperson access to body camera footage
- Provides that the ombudsperson may appeal the classification of a complaint and type of investigation selected by the police chief
- Clarifies that all complaints may be independently investigated by the ombudsperson
- Establishes that the ombudsperson may request further investigation of major complaints and request that the police ombudsperson commission direct further investigation by the ombudsperson or a third-party independent investigator
- Adds the authority for the ombudsperson to issue a closing report after the completion of a full department investigation, chief's determination, and/or a third-party investigation that may opine on what happened
"We have been grateful for the opportunity to have open dialogue and collaboration with Mayor Woodward and Council President Beggs that has brought us to this point today," Guild President Kris Honaker said. "A lot of hard work went into this contract and it's one we are happy to take to our members."
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"Finalizing a contract is important to the men and women in our department who have continued to come to work every day to serve the community," Police Chief Craig Meidl said. "The commitment and professionalism they have shown has been admirable and appreciated."
Woodward took an active part in facilitating negotiating with the Guild this summer. In an attempt to get all parties around the same table to resolve the outstanding oversight issue, Woodward invited City Council President Breean Beggs to join the discussions. Participation of either in the conversations is an unusual step and one the Guild fully supported.
Those conversations progressed over several months before a tentative agreement was reached this week.
"This contract delivers the independent investigation and closing reports that 69% of Spokane voters mandated in 2013," Beggs said. "I am grateful to the Mayor and Guild leaders for inviting me into this conversation so that we could craft a contract that met the concerns of all. I look forward to translating this new collaboration into future agreements on improving public safety."
Communication with the full Guild membership by its leadership and conducting a vote will take approximately three weeks. The City Council expects to vote on the contract at its March 1 meeting.
"I'm appreciative of the collaborative effort that led to this tentative agreement," said Councilmember Lori Kinnear, who chairs the Public Safety Committee. "We were able to get to this point because of the willingness of all parties to move forward together."
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The tentative agreement adds a fifth year to the contract that the City Council considered this summer.
"Agreeing to a contract has been a long time coming for everyone involved," said Councilmember Betsy Wilkerson, who chairs the Finance and Administration Committee. "Change happens over time therefore we must work together to embrace change and reform. This will help us move forward as a community."
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