Council punts decision to restructure Spokane Police Department

<p><p>The most contentious matter up for a vote heading into Monday’s Spokane City Council meeting was likely not the $1.1 billion city budget, but a <a href=”” target=”_blank”>plan to place police department leaders back into the city’s civil service system</a>.</p></p><p><p>Amid confusion and questions, the City Council delayed a decision on whether to classify several positions at the top of the department, meaning they would be subject to the requirements – and protections – of the city’s century-old civil service system.</p></p><p><p>The proposed move was characterized by the City Council as a long overdue correction to former Mayor David Condon’s administrative restructuring, which was done to skirt civil service by creating new departments within existing departments.</p></p><p><p>The council’s proposal was sharply opposed by Mayor Nadine Woodward’s administration and Police Chief Craig Meidl, who warned that it would make ineffective leaders more difficult to dismiss.</p></p><p><p>The administration also cautioned that it would force the city to fire three employees – Police Business Services Director Jennifer Hammond, Director of Strategic Initiatives Jacqui MacConnell and Deputy Director of Police Records Gary Redding – because they could not be guaranteed a job under civil service.</p></p><p><p>Civil service sets strict standards for hiring and firing employees, and exists to ensure equitable access to city jobs as well as prevent unfair practices like cronyism and nepotism.</p></p><p><p>The council wrote the ordinance to ensure that the three employees would be guaranteed their jobs, but the administration questioned the legality of the move.</p></p><p><p>The ordinance was delayed until June 6 at the request of Councilwoman Lori Kinnear.</p></p><p><p>“As much as I tried to explain the situation, it wasn’t well-received. I think we as a council need to do a better job of educating and doing outreach so that the public gets on board,” Kinnear told The Spokesman-Review.</p></p>