State Patrol sleuths have spent 2,600 hours so far on their investigation into possible misconduct by some Tacoma police officers and city officials, but it could still be several weeks before their job is complete.
A piece of the investigation remains stalled by a contract dispute with the Tacoma Police Management Association over conditions under which eight of the union's members may be interviewed.
Representatives of the city and the union met twice last month with a mediator from the state Public Employment Relations Commission.
The next step remains unclear.
Police Capt. Mark Langford, president of Tacoma Police Management Association Local 26, said Monday his members hope to hear from a mediator this week on what comes next.
But the process could be further delayed by the sudden absence of Tacoma Human Resources Director Phil Knudsen, who was placed on administrative leave pending two investigations into possible misconduct last week. Those investigations involve whether Knudsen improperly interfered in hiring and promotion and are not related to the State Police probe.
City Manager Jim Walton could not be reached for comment Monday.
A five-member team headed by State Patrol Lt. Marc Lamoreaux is following up on information gleaned during a criminal investigation into the city after Police Chief David Brame fatally shot his wife and killed himself last April.
No criminal charges were filed, but city officials agreed to a civil investigation into what state Attorney General Christine Gregoire called a "troubling administrative culture" in the police department.
The investigation is focused on 32 current and former city employees, not all of whom worked in the police department.
Nearly all have been interviewed, Lamoreaux said, but he declined to say how many interviews remain.
Eight members of Local 26 have refused to talk to State Patrol investigators until their contract dispute is settled, Langford said.
When the investigation began, then-State Patrol Chief Ronal Serpas said he expected it would be completed in two months or so.
Lamoreaux said State Patrol officials hope to have "those parts of the investigation that we're authorized or allowed to continue on" wrapped up within a matter of weeks.
But he cautioned the investigation could take longer once his investigators talk to members of Local 26. Whatever they have to say could lead to further interviews, he explained.
State Patrol investigators put in 2,600 hours on the issue between Dec. 3 and Feb. 15, including 518 overtime hours, Lamoreaux said. The city has a $200,000 contract with the agency for the investigation, but the patrol is charging only for overtime hours, per diem, travel costs and other expenses such as transcription fees, Lamoreaux said.
The city was billed just over $16,000 for work it did at the end of last year. Patrol officials haven't completed their expense reports for January, but early estimates set that bill around $9,000 or so, Lamoreaux said. Bills for February are still being compiled.
Kris Sherman: 253-597-8659
State Patrol investigators put in 2,600 hours on the Brame investigation between Dec. 3 and Feb. 15. Work done in late 2003 cost $16,000. January's bill is estimated at $9,000.