It’s on.

City confirms that the Spokane Police Guild is challenging new Ombudsman ordinance.

In response to a query from the Center for Justice, city spokesperson Marlene Feist today confirmed that the Spokane Police has filed an unfair labor practice (ULP) complaint against the city in connection with the ordinance the city council unanimously passed on June 28th. The grievance has reportedly been filed with the Washington Public Employment Relations Commission (PERC). Feist also reported that the guild has also filed a contract grievance that will be the subject of arbitration.

The ordinance was a major overhaul of the city’s recently created Office of Police Ombudsman and, among other things, it empowered the Ombudsman to conduct independent investigations into citizen complaints against Spokane police officers. Under the terms of the original ordinance, adopted in 2008, the police ombudsman could only accompany Spokane Police Department internal affairs investigators to question officers and could not even write independent reports on complaint investigations.

In an email earlier today, Ms. Feist reported: The Spokane Police Guild did file both a contract grievance with the City as well as a ULP (unfair labor practice) complaint with PERC related to the adoption of the revised Ombudsman ordinance. On the contract grievance, the City is working with the Guild to set up arbitration on the matter.  Under the City’s contract with the Guild, both sides must agree on who is chosen as the arbitrator.
PERC obviously will handle the ULP and typically something like this
would go to a hearing examiner at PERC. We also are in the process of hiring outside counsel to handle this
issue for the City.

We’ll report more on the challenges as details become available.

–CFJ

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