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Wednesday, July 26, 2000 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Survey: Police concerned

Seattle Times Eastside bureau

KIRKLAND

More than half of Kirkland's police officers have concerns about the skill and experience of their superiors, according to a new survey that casts doubts about Police Chief Pleas Green's ability to lead the force.

The survey said about two-thirds of the officers think the Green administration does not treat employees fairly, and a majority of officers suggested their bosses are just plain hard to work for.

"We've got our work cut out for us," said City Manager Dave Ramsay, who added that a plan is being put into effect to deal with issues raised in the survey.

The chief works for Ramsay, not the City Council, so it is up to the city manager to decide whether Green stays or goes. Ramsay said last night he has no intention of replacing him.

The survey results are "hard-hitting," Ramsay said, but the differences within the department can be resolved. A major problem is a "systemic problem" of poor communication, he said, adding that the survey "doesn't get into the reasons why."

The department, which has about 100 uniformed and civilian employees, has been in turmoil for months. The Kirkland Police Officers Guild recently filed more than 70 complaints with the state Public Employment Relations Commission. Many of the accusations accuse Green of violating the city-guild labor agreement.

Last month, the guild's lawyer, Jim Cline, rejected the idea of the survey, calling it a waste of money.

Green served 12 years as Yakima's police chief before being named as Kirkland's top officer five years ago.

Green could not be reached last night for comment. But in an earlier interview, he said his department is addressing a number of the guild's concerns and is taking more than a dozen steps, including holding regular guild-management meetings, to address operational concerns.

The survey posed a dozen questions, and officers were asked to give answers on a scale of six choices, ranging from "strongly disagree" to "strongly agree."

A partial listing of the results said:

When asked if the administration is skilled and experienced, 22 "strongly disagreed," 18 "disagreed," nine "slightly disagreed," 29 "slightly agreed," 17 "agreed," and five "strongly agreed."

Asked if the administration treats people fairly, 32 strongly dis agreed, 18 disagreed, 20 slightly disagreed, 11 slightly agreed, 11 agreed, and nine strongly agreed.

Asked if the administration keeps officers up to date about events, 39 strongly disagreed, 28 disagreed, 13 slightly disagreed, seven slightly agreed, seven agreed, and five strongly agreed.

Asked if the administration is difficult to work for, 30 strongly agreed, 15 agreed, 17 slightly agreed, 12 slightly disagreed, 13 disagreed, and 12 strongly dis agreed. Ramsay said three steps are planned to try to improve the situation. They'll include openly sharing the complete survey results with police personnel today, working to better understand the causes of the low rankings and devising a plan to overcome the problems.

Ramsay said communication is "a two-way street" and it's not precisely known why the tensions have developed.

Peyton Whitely's phone message number is 206-464-2259. His e-mail address is pwhitely@seattletimes.com.

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Copyright (c) 2000 Seattle Times Company, All Rights Reserved.

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