Mayor Lacy's letter to the Citizens of East Wenatchee and Members of the East Wenatchee City Council
CITY OF EAST WENATCHEE
STEVEN C. LACY, MAYOR
271 9th STREET NE
EAST WENATCHEE, WA 98802
January 31, 2019
To Citizens of East Wenatchee
Members of the East Wenatchee City Council
Dear Citizens and Councilmembers,
I write this letter as a result of the presentation of a letter to the East Wenatchee City Council and to the community at large on January 22, 2019 by Teamsters Local Union No. 760. It is highly unusual, and generally improper under most circumstances, to address any aspect of personnel matters in a public setting. In my over twenty years as Mayor, I have never felt compelled to do so. Moreover, were it not for the serious, publicly stated, and possibly defamatory accusations made in that letter against our Police Chief and Assistant Police Chief, I would not be responding in this manner now. Matters of this type should always be handled internally for the protection of all involved.
The matters leading to the union's complaints against the police administration were previously presented to me in June 2018. At that time the union was given the opportunity to present whatever information it chose to support its allegation that undeserved discipline had been issued, that police discipline was being driven by improper motives or bias by the police administration, or that the administration was engaging in policy decisions detrimental to the department. After I met with union officials, and after all information the union chose to present was heard and thoroughly explored, I responded in writing to the union, finding that the information presented did not support the accusations of undeserved discipline or discipline driven by improper or illegal motives. That response was issued by me in writing on July 17, 2018. The allegation in the January 22, 2019 letter that "[t]he administration has made no attempt to communicate a strategy to resolve these issues" is incorrect. To the contrary, in my written response I found that certain complaints of the union concerning policy implementation and possible use of improper procedure for the issuance of discipline had sufficient merit to issue directives remedying those concerns, which, as part of my written response, I issued at that time.
Following my response to the union in July, the union made no contact with me thereafter before approaching the city council on January 22, 2019 at a time when I was out of town. Meanwhile, the former union representative was replaced by the Teamsters union a month or so before that meeting. The new representative, who signed the January 22, 2019 letter and presented it to the city council on that date, made no attempt to introduce himself or to communicate with me. In fact, at no time during that period did anyone from the union attempt to approach me with any new complaints or any reaction to my July 17, 2018 response to the union's complaints.
Since the public action by the union I have renewed my inquiry into the facts. My investigation has consisted of police employee interviews and a more extensive review of the written disciplinary records and relevant policies of the department. My review has revealed that (1) the union is not complaining of any new incidents of discipline since I met with them last summer, (2) the union has presented no evidence sufficient to support the new, specific accusations in the January 22, 2019 letter. I have found no support for the accusations that the police administration has engaged in a pattern of inequitable treatment of employees. Nor has the union presented any evidence to support its allegations of intimidation, harassment, retaliation, or any other unethical behavior in connection with the discipline of any employee of the department.
Nevertheless, both the January 22, 2019 letter and my own investigations have made it clear that some police personnel have developed strong feelings of animosity and distrust toward the police administration. Moreover, it appears that those individuals have the support of a significant number of other officers. The cause or causes of those attitudes remain sufficiently unclear to warrant an effective, outside professional review of the department. Given that situation, I have agreed with the union to seek such a review of our police department over the next several months through a program offered by the Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs (WASPAC). The review will be conducted under the auspices of WASPAC's Loaned Executive Management Assistance Program (LEMAP). It is my expectation to be guided by the recommendations from that review to such an extent that remedies can be applied this year which will increase the morale in our department and insure that the efficiency of our department will continue to be top notch, as it has heretofore been.
Steven C. Lacy
Mayor of East Wenatchee