Top police reply to union complaints
Seattle Times Eastside bureau
Kirkland police officials responded yesterday to more than 70 complaints from the Kirkland Police Officers Guild that were filed with a state personnel board in April.
In a 50-page report, the officials rebutted or explained the department's position on all but a few of the guild's contentions, allegations and criticisms.
But the guild's lawyer says the response misses the simple point that the police chief, Pleas Green, has to go.
A hearing on the complaints, originally scheduled before the Public Employment Relations Commission (PERC) on June 19, has been postponed and a new date has not been set.
Allegations from the guild, which represents about 80 commissioned officers and noncommissioned support staffers, date to Green's appointment five years ago. Some complaints dealt with what the guild calls Green's "flexibility" in work rules, particularly on overtime, shift changes and diversity.
At times, they say, Green has pursued a policy that violates the labor agreement.
"Contrary to the guild's assertion, patrol officers and detectives are not routinely pulled from regular assignments to replace those who are sick or on vacation," said the report.
However, during in-service training, traffic and community-resource officers may have temporary schedule changes to work patrol, it said.
Police administrators deny that officers are forced to take compensatory time off in lieu of overtime pay. The report states that a guild employee must receive approval, ahead of time, from a supervisor to take compensatory time instead of overtime.
The guild also raised the issue of a lack of diversity, noting there is only one African American and no Hispanics on the force. The officials responded that since Green took command, the department now has three Pacific Islanders, two African Americans and one Hispanic wearing badges, plus seven women.
In response to guild complaints, the officials responded, the department has initiated efforts to provide forums for discussion, exchange of information and problem solving, and has established an open-door policy at weekly command meetings.
At present, joint guild-management committees are addressing accident-review policies and Kirkland's assumption of dispatch services for Clyde Hill, Yarrow Point, Hunts Point and Medina.
"We have a great department and some great people," Green said. "As with any professional organization, in a fast-paced and changing environment, there will continue to be ongoing challenges and issues to mutually address and resolve.
"We are looking forward to proactively addressing the issues."
But the guild's lawyer, Jim Cline of Seattle, said the time for that is long gone.
"He's not addressing the primary problem, which is leadership," Cline said. "The real issue is the spirit and culture of retaliation (Green) has created, and the officers don't trust him. They (officials) don't rebut the fact that there's a lack of trust."
Seattle Times Eastside reporter Ian Ith contributed to this story.
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