This morning, Council member Gonzalez sent her colleagues a memo outlining the path forward for the City Council’s deliberations on the tentative collective bargaining agreement with SPOG, the police officers’ union.
Last week a fight broke out between the Community Police Commission (CPC) and the Mayor’s Office over the tentative collective bargaining agreement (CBA) with SPOG, the police officer’s union. In the days since the CPC voted last Wednesday to urge the City Council to reject the contract, I’ve talked to both sides to try to understand their perspectives on the contract.
What became clear very quickly is that we can’t understand the CBA without first understanding the legal context surrounding it. Here’s what I’ve learned, and what I think it means for the city’s negotiations with SPOG. Caveat: I am not a lawyer. I am sure those who are will send me notes on where they think my analysis is wrong, and I will do my best to understand their points and update this post to make it more accurate.
This morning the Community Police Commission signaled their unhappiness with the tentative labor contract with Seattle’s police officers, voting unanimously to urge the City Council to reject the contract and to investigate asking the judge overseeing the consent decree to enjoin the city from implementing it.
Today the Mayor’s Office transmitted to the City Council the new contract negotiated last month with the Seattle Police Officers Guild, in the process releasing it to the public for the first time.
This afternoon it was announced that the Seattle Police Officers’ Guild has “overwhelmingly” approved a new proposed contract with the city.
This morning the City Council revisited a recurring pain point: the Seattle Police Department’s inability to stay within budget on its overtime expenses.
The issues with how the Seattle Police Department manages overtime for its officers go back for years, if not decades, but they came under particular scrutiny starting in October 2014 when then-Chief Kathleen O’Toole requested an audit of the department’s overtime practices. It took the City Auditor 18 months to issue the audit report; in the intervening time the City Budget Office and the City Council became acutely aware of the budget pain inflicted when SPD’s overtime expenses went deep into the red.
After the audit report was released in April 2016 and the Council was briefed, the City Council passed a resolution requesting quarterly reports through the end of 2017 from SPD on its progress in addressing the recommendations from the Auditor to get its overtime practices under control. Those reports showed some progress, but not enough to satisfy the Council that the issues had been resolved, so last fall the Council requested an interdepartmental team be convened to:
- Comprehensively describe SPD’s overtime policies and practices in relation to the findings and recommendations in the 2016 Office of City Auditor report on SPD overtime controls;
- Identify the sources and root causes of the historical gap between SPD budgeted and actual overtime spending (overexpenditure gap) that accounts for factors such as service level needs, staffing levels, population growth, any shifts in systemic practices, and historical events, and that seeks to distinguish between legitimate overtime needs and unnecessary overtime;
- Evaluate best practices in overtime across the country that may inform SPD’s systems; and
- Issue recommendations on (a) the most impactful strategies to reduce the overexpenditure gap and (b) strategic approaches to overtime budgeting and budget requests (supplemental and fall budgets) that will give Council a meaningful opportunity to review and approve or disapprove of anticipated overtime expenditures.
This morning, that workgroup delivered its response to the Council.
This afternoon, the City Council voted 8-0 to confirm Carmen Best as Chief of the Seattle Police Department.
This morning the City Council moved Carmen Best’s nomination as Chief of Police out of committee, setting her up for an easy confirmation vote on Monday — though there’s a hint that it might not be unanimous.
When Judge James Robart found the City of Seattle in initial compliance with the consent decree earlier this year, it started a two-year countdown for a “sustainment period” before the consent decree is lifted. During that period, the city agreed to provide quarterly reports detailing status of reform efforts, statistics on policing and use of force, and continuing efforts to reform the police department’s practices.
The first of those reports was filed with the court on Tuesday. The department also submitted some proposed changes to its “use of force” policy for Robart’s approval.
As part of its confirmation process, the City Council has posted a list of the questions it directed to Carmen Best, Mayor Durkan’s nominee for Chief of Police, along with Best’s responses.