Ordinance on Police Oversight Up to the Public

By Paige Browning

Whether or not the mayor’s police oversight ordinance meets public expectations is on the minds of Spokane City Council members this month. Citizens have their next chance to give their comments Thursday night.
The mayor proposed the ordinance as a response to last February’s police oversight. Prop one established a police ombudsman commission, and requested it have independent authority to investigate police misconduct. Citizens widely expected the next police union contract to fulfill prop one, but Mayor David Condon proposes a city ordinance instead.
Condon says it meets the requests in proposition one.
Condon: “You know there’s two major components. The independent investigation, and then consistent with state law and labor law. And so I believe it does.”
But, Center for Justice Attorney Rick Eichstaedt disagrees. He wrote the supporting argument for prop one on the ballot.
Eichstaedt: “The voters asked for the ability of the ombudsman to independently investigate allegations of police misconduct. The ordinance that’s proposed does not allow that.”
The city charter now reflects prop one, and says “the police ombudsman and any employee of the OPO must, at all time, be totally independent”.
The proposed ordinance would allow the police ombudsman commission to sit in on every meeting during an investigation. The commission could request a third party to conduct a more thorough review. It’s up to the city council to decide if that’s enough.
The police guild has been quiet about the ordinance, and has not promised they won’t seek legal action if the changes are passed.

Thursday’s town hall meeting is at the West Central Community Center at 6:00pm. The public can also attend the city council meeting next Monday where the ordinance is up for discussion, and people can email Mayor Condon at: mayor@spokanecity.org.
Copyright 2013 Spokane Public Radio

Proposition One ballot language:
This proposition will amend the Spokane City Charter by adding two new sections to provide for the establishment of an Office of Police Ombudsman, a Police Ombudsman Commission and the independent investigative authority of both entities, as set forth in Ordinance No. C - 34941.
Should this measure be enacted into law?

Previous coverage:

Mayor Weighs Hope on Public To Accept Police Oversight Model

Mayor Hopeful City Council and Guild Will Condone Police Oversight Proposal

Council Wants More Police Oversight, Shoots Down Agreement

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