Topic: Seattle Police Officers’ Guild
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September 19, 2013 at 2:51 PM
The Seattle Police Officers’ Guild (SPOG) announced Thursday it is endorsing Sen. Ed Murray for mayor, snubbing Mayor Mike McGinn, who appeared to represent the interests of the rank and file when he fought the Department of Justice over the extent of police reform.
Guild President Sgt. Rich O’Neill said in a written statement, “Many view Seattle government as broken and dysfunctional. SPOG believes that in order to work on all the problems facing the city we need Ed Murray and his ability to unite all of the different groups for the common good.”
The union cited Murray’s legislative experience and expertise on civil rights, transportation, budgetary problems and public safety. It noted that Murray received the 2013 Legislator of the Year Award from the Council of Metropolitan Police and Sheriffs and the same award in 2009 from the Washington State Council of Police & Sheriffs for his work supporting public safety.
O’Neill said that Murray assured the guild he would make public safety his No.1 priority. “We need a Mayor that will stay focused on public safety!” O’Neill said in the statement.
Murray strategist Sandeep Kaushik said the campaign “appreciates the guild’s support. They were looking for leadership in the mayor’s office.”
McGinn campaign manager John Wyble said McGinn tried to strike a balance in the negotiations with the Department of Justice over sweeping reforms in the department, the cost to the city and the concerns of the city’s minority communities over use of force and bias.
“Reform is happening. The mayor fundamentally believes in police reform. Maybe the Guild was saying, ‘Let’s take a chance with somebody else,’ ” Wyble said.
May 30, 2013 at 4:43 PM
A King County judge today granted a request to block the release of patrol-car video considered to be key evidence in an assault case brought against a Seattle police officer.
Superior Court Judge Julie Spector issued her ruling after listening this morning to arguments by the officer’s attorney and a King County prosecutor on whether an injunction, blocking the release, should be granted.
On May 13, King County Court Commissioner Pro Tem Eric Watness temporarily blocked the release of the dashboard-camera video, ruling it should not be disclosed to the news media until Spector could hear full arguments.
The King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office had planned to release the video to The Seattle Times and KOMO-TV in response to public-disclosure requests. Times news partner KING-TV later made a request.
Officer Chris Hairston’s attorneys filed court papers seeking to block the release at this stage of the case.
Hairston has pleaded not guilty to a misdemeanor assault charge stemming from a Sept. 24 incident in which his wife, Katie, who also is a Seattle police officer, responded with another officer to a report that a person had passed out near Seattle Central Community College. While dealing with several people who had been drinking alcohol, Katie Hairston was assaulted.
When Chris Hairston arrived, he is alleged to have assaulted the handcuffed suspect. A Seattle police report said Hairston could be seen on the video forcefully using his hands on the man.
Hairston was charged by the City Attorney’s Office, which has declined to release the video, citing legal restrictions.
The Times initially requested the video from the county Prosecuting Attorney’s Office, which obtained an assault conviction against the man who attacked Katie Hairston.
Attorneys for Chris Hairston, in seeking an injunction, argued, among other things, that disclosure of the video would jeopardize Hairston’s right to a fair trial; violate Hairston’s right to privacy; and conflict with a state law regarding the release of dashboard-camera video while criminal or civil litigation is pending.
The county Prosecuting Attorney’s Office argued the video was subject to public disclosure and that Hairston wasn’t likely to prevail on the merits.
The Seattle Police Officers’ Guild has sharply criticized City Attorney Pete Holmes for charging Hairston, saying Hairston simply grabbed the suspect and that his conduct should be handled internally by the Police Department.
Prior to Hairston’s request, the guild’s president, Sgt. Rich O’Neill, questioned why Holmes had not released the video.
April 30, 2013 at 1:38 PM
The Seattle police officers’ union has reached a tentative agreement on a new four-year contract with the city, the union head announced this afternoon.
Sgt. Rich O’Neill, 54, who has been president of the Seattle Police Officers’ Guild (SPOG) since 2006, made the announcement during an invitation-only news conference at union headquarters. The guild represents about 1,250 members, including officers and sergeants.
The agreement is still subject to a vote by SPOG members and City Council ratification. The tentative contract covers the period from 2011 through 2014.
The agreement provides for a cost-of-living increase, which O’Neill declined to disclose until he meets with SPOG members. However, O’Neill did say the increase will maintain Seattle officers’ position as the top-paid cops in the state.
The agreement also includes a provision to “reopen” the contract so the city and guild can negotiate changes in officers’ working conditions — specifically changes in regards to discipline — that arise as reforms to the police department move forward, O’Neill said.
SPOG has been working without a contract since the previous one expired in 2010.
In a statement on the tentative agreement, Mayor Mike McGinn said,“We have reached an important milestone in our work to form a new contract with the Seattle Police Officers Guild. My priorities during this work were to ensure that a new contract would support public safety in Seattle, recognize city budget realities and support our work to fully implement the reforms enshrined in our settlement agreement with the Department of Justice. I am pleased that our tentative agreement has achieved all three of these basic priorities.”
The question of who pays the guild president’s salary is also a topic that can be reopened at a later date, O’Neill said. Contract negotiations between the city and SPOG had reportedly splintered over a proposal that the city no longer pay the salary and benefits of the O’Neill. Currently, the city pays O’Neill $125,000 in salary and benefits under the terms of a 2008 contract while he serves full time as the union’s leader. Under previous contracts, the union paid the president’s salary, according to O’Neill.
No other union head representing city employees receives a full-time city salary.
“While the agreement does not immediately resolve the President’s salary issue, it provides a clear path to settle this issue in the near term while preserving the value of reaching closure on the overall contract,” said Aaron Pickus, McGinn’s spokesman.
SPOG members will be voting on the contract over the next two weeks and the ballots will be counted on May 22.
Under the agreement, O’Neill said SPOG agrees to drop a lawsuit, filed along with the Seattle Police Management Association in March, seeking protection of their collective bargaining rights in response to police reforms mandated by a court-imposed agreement with the Department of Justice.
The agreement lays out specific steps to address excessive use of force, biased policing and other practices in the police department.
O’Neill and Lt. Eric Sano, president of the management association, said the court action sought to clarify the bargaining rights of the two labor groups. Sano said today his union will also drop its suit.
About The Today File
The Today File is a general news blog featuring real-time coverage of Seattle and the Northwest. It is reported by the news staff of The Seattle Times and edited by Assistant Metro Editor Nick Provenza.
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