EAST WENATCHEE — The East Wenatchee police union has declined to endorse a plan from city officials to fix problems in the police department.
The plan was drafted in response to a report from the Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs that recommended more than 100 changes to the department. The report, called a Loaned Executive Management Assistance Program review, or LEMAP for short, included 18 chapters on topics from use of force to rank structure.
The Wenatchee World obtained a copy of the city’s plan, as well as the union’s email response, via records request.
The city sent a draft of its plan on June 27 to union representative David Simmons. He rejected the plan Monday.
“I have looked at the City’s plan and I believe that it ignores a significant theme of the LEMAP review, specifically in the area of leadership,” Simmons wrote in an email to the city. “The City has developed this plan to address the LEMAP recommendations with no input from our members.”
A team of active chiefs and high-ranking law enforcement officers from the sheriffs and chiefs association interviewed members of the department in April. Their findings were released two weeks ago.
The city proposed following some, but not all, of the LEMAP review recommendations.
At a council meeting Tuesday, Mayor Steve Lacy said the city will discuss its plan with the union at upcoming meetings with police officers July 9 and 11. He said he believes the problem to be a personnel matter that shouldn’t be handled in public.
Below is an outline of the city’s plan. Read the full version at wenatcheeworld.com.
Standards and management
Developing a new mission statement, agency values and a strategic plan. The department’s mission statement was implemented by Assistant Chief Ray Coble in 2017 without employee input.
Several employees referred to it as “window dressing that was recently posted on the wall,” the review said.
The review found that Chief Randy Harrison rarely speaks at meetings and some officers hadn’t heard direct information from him in years.
Communication and chain of command is a problem within the department and is exacerbated by the infrequent presence of Harrison and Coble, the report said.
Until the past few months, Harrison and Coble worked from an office separate from police headquarters and kept a four-day schedule. Harrison works 6 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday to Thursday, and Coble works 6 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday to Friday. The schedule is “unusual” for police executives, the report said.
A recent example of poor communication within the department, the report said, was when a newly hired officer arrived at the police department and no one knew who he was, to whom he should report or what work was expected of him.
The city’s plan would require Harrison and/or Coble to meet with every officer at least twice a month.
The city’s plan also calls for Harrison and Coble to move their offices into the headquarters building, which they’ve already done, and to consider creating a corporal position so a supervisor can be on-duty at all times.
Employees complained to reviewers that discipline was inconsistent and it was unclear why one incident would be subject to an internal investigation and another similar incident would not.
The city wants to stabilize the disciplinary process by being more consistent and documenting all complaints. The plan would refine current policy to better differentiate when to counsel an officer who violates a policy and when to use more severe disciplinary measures.
Patrol and training
A lack of in-service training was a major concern for the department’s officers, the review said. Some officers told reviewers they hadn’t received domestic violence training in years.
The city’s plan would include more in-service training, to include joint training with neighboring law enforcement agencies, and firearms and defensive tactics.
East Wenatchee PD is the only department in Chelan and Douglas counties equipped with body cameras. The cameras are worn on a voluntary basis. The city plan, at the recommendation of the report, would consider eliminating its use of body-worn cameras.
Body cameras have been contested between the city and the union. The department acquired the cameras in 2014, and then in 2017 the city attempted to make them a mandatory item worn by officers. The union resisted and the cameras remained voluntary use, according to the city plan.
Reviewers analyzed the department’s role in the community and officers’ constitutional authority, to include arrests, searches and seizures — areas which all officers interviewed said they hadn’t had any meaningful, updated training in the area since the police academy.
The city plan calls for more consistent training and on an increased basis, to include the areas of arrests, searches and seizures.