SPOKANE, Wash. — The first reading of a proposed Spokane City Council during a reading on Monday led to questions about if the Spokane Police Department was set to lose some of the force’s leaders.
The ordinance deals with how some of the jobs are classified and how candidates are hired, essentially making some of them part of the city’s civil service system.
Will a proposed Spokane City Council ordinance lead to three leaders in the Spokane Police Department losing their jobs?
No, the proposed Spokane City Council ordinance would not lead to leaders within the Spokane Police Department losing their jobs, but city and police leaders still have concerns over the proposed changes.
Coddington and Lundgren both said there were concerns about the original language in the resolution leading to three people in the police department losing their jobs. Those people are Police Business Services Director Jennifer Hammond, Director of Strategic Initiatives Jacqui MacConnell, and Deputy Director of Records and Evidence Gary Redden.
According to Beggs, the wording in the proposal was changed on Monday to ensure no one will lose their jobs, as the change wouldn’t affect anyone currently employed in an exempt position.
“We put language to make absolutely crystal clear that these people are at no risk of losing their jobs or having to apply for civil service. But once they’re no longer at the city, their replacements will,” said Beggs.
The resolution technically deals with the elimination of departments housed in the larger police department, which Beggs said was used as a way to get around the city’s rule of each department only being allowed two exempt employees. Currently, Beggs said the police department has 10 exempt positions, some of which are vacant.
Exempt positions are ones where employees are appointed. Civil service positions require candidates to go through a test which narrows the field to the most qualified applicants. Beggs said that Spokane Chief of Police Craig Meidl would be able to select from the top 10 applicants for most positions, while he would be allowed to select from anyone who meets minimum requirements for others.
Coddington said the city viewed the regulation, which came out of a court ruling, as only applying to the city’s fire department. Beggs added that this came partially as an effort to make the police department uniform with the fire department.
Losing current employees isn’t the only thing worrying city and police leaders about the ordinance.
“When you have a niche position, where there’s a very small amount of people who are qualified,” said Lundgren. “Having that flexibility to go out and get that that one person that’s going to make the best contribution to that department is really important.”
Coddington also said that the test given for civil services job can’t assess certain traits that may be desired for certain positions.
“The bigger issue is the flexibility to be able to hire a team around, in this case, the police chief that represents the police chief, that brings emotional intelligence, that brings a different degree of support in perspective and knowledge that you can’t necessarily test for on a written examination,” Coddington said.
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