Special Reports

City manager proposes fix for ‘policy shortcomings’

While City Manager Jim Walton found a handful of possible violations of city policies in his review of the Washington State Patrol investigation of the David Brame scandal, he lamented that in many cases city employees’ conduct was “undesirable” before and after the Brame shootings, but didn’t break the rules.

His solution: Change the rules.

He recommended a number of administrative and legislative changes to overcome what he called “policy shortcomings” and help “us minimize the chance forever of having to go through something like this again.”

Walton can make some of the changes himself. Others will be sent to the City Council for consideration and approval. They include: n City employees or officers who learn that another employee either will not or cannot do his or her job would have to report that to the appropriate supervisor. n The definition of “conduct unbecoming” an officer or employee of the city, either on or off duty, would be broadened to include “lack of fitness to perform the essential functions of their job.” Grounds for discipline would include dishonesty, sexual misconduct, verbal tantrums and discrimination or harassment on the basis of race, religion, gender or sexual orientation. n If officials determine an employee’s presence at work “could have detrimental consequences or cause public harm” administrative leave may be granted with pay. In those cases, the city also may notify the employee in writing of any related restrictions while the employee is on leave. n The city’s bargaining teams should not negotiate away management rights or responsibilities to labor unions. n Nonconfidential information on the effect of labor contracts should be provided to the public at least 10 working days before the City Council considers a labor agreement ordinance. Changes that involve management’s rights and responsibilities should be highlighted. n An overview of all internal affairs investigations regarding sustained allegations that could result in economic sanctions against a police officer would be presented to the city manager by the chief of police. n The chief would have to review grievances, disciplinary matters and other items with the city manager at least quarterly to determine if management rights are being taken away. n The chief would have to review and discuss each police contract with the city manager every month. n The chief would have to talk to the city manager at least quarterly about officers with multiple citizen complaints. n Walton would appoint at least three members of the Citizen Advisory Panel for the Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs investigation, a community member at large, and a member of the manager’s executive leadership team to serve as an Accreditation Advisory Committee to the chief of police. statuses of brame investigations The David Brame scandal spawned four investigations. Here’s a description of the inquiries, their statuses and what they covered. 1. Criminal investigation Agency: Washington State Patrol, state attorney general Status: Completed November 2003. Scope: Possible criminal violations Findings: No criminal violations, but recommendations for administrative review of possible misconduct by city and police department employees 2. Administrative investigation Agency: Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs Status: Completed May 2004. Scope: Initially wide-ranging, narrowed by City Council to examine Brame’s hiring, promotions and appointment as chief, and whether city policies procedures and practices were followed Findings: Hiring, promotions and appointment followed procedure, but 1988 rape allegation against Brame should have been referred to an outside law enforcement agency. 3. Administrative investigation Agency: Washington State Patrol Status: Completed April 28, 2004; assessed for five months by city “review team,” released Tuesday. Scope: Targeted 33 allegations of misconduct by 32 city and police department employees. Findings: 104 “conclusions”: 12 that might be “sustained,” 92 conclusions are either not sustained, unfounded or exonerated 4. Federal investigation Agency: FBI, U.S. Attorney’s Office Status: Incomplete Scope: Targets possible corruption in public contracts in Tacoma and Pierce County Findings: Unknown On the Net To view Walton’s report, go to www.ci.tacoma.wa.us/tacomanews.