The Spokane City Council unanimously approved a 5-year police contract that will give police officers raises and remove barriers to civilian oversight.
City Council Members and Mayor Nadine Woodward have praised the contract, saying it complies with a city charter amendment passed in 2013. The charter required the city to allow a police ombudsman to independently investigate potential police conduct and publish reports on his findings.
The contract will be retroactive from 2017 to the end of this year. Later this year city leaders will need to begin negotiations with the Spokane Police Guild on a new contract.
In a statement Spokane City Council President Breean Beggs thanked all leaders involved and praised the agreement.
“Eight years after Spokane voters approved independent civilian police oversight by 69%, we finally have achieved a police contract that empowers the Police Ombudsperson to independently investigate all complaints and publish closing reports with policy and training recommendations to reduce future harm,” Beggs said.
In a previous interview with Spokane Public Radio, Beggs acknowledged that the contract does not achieve everything voters expected with they approved the city charter, but said its likely the closest the city can get to complying with the charter under current state law.
The contract will allow the ombudsmen to publish closing reports and empower his deputy and employees to have the same powers as he does in investigations. It does still have restrictions on what can be published in the report, such as a determination or opinion on whether the officer did anything wrong, and bars the ombudsmen from naming any of the people involved.