An apparent lapse in simple communication meant the city paid a police captain more than $10,000 while he was suspended for moving furniture.
There was no clear order not
to move furniture from the police department's former downtown precinct to the new location, according to a letter to Director Jim McDevitt from reprimanded Captain Brad Arleth, refuting an investigation that found he was insubordinate.
Earlier this week, the Spokane Police Department released the results of an internal investigation into Arleth's decision to move furniture from the Peyton Building into the Intermodal Center. Assistant Chief Craig Meidl (at then-Interim Chief Rick Dobrow's direction) filed an official complaint against Arleth for insubordination, which sparked the investigation. Meidl claimed Arleth's decision was in opposition to a direct order.
In his rebuttal letter, Arleth says he was never given a clear directive about the furniture. He adds that he was told the furniture was "new" and customized specifically for the Intermodal space, which was not the case.
Arleth also questions the thoroughness of the investigation. Ed Lukas, the city's asset management director, and Construction Manager Judy Knight were never interviewed by the investigator, though the direction on what to do with furniture came from them.
"I made a decision that did not involve any cost, any liability, nor any harm and actually enhanced the working conditions at the precinct space, which is what I'm paid to do," Arleth wrote.
The Lieutenants and Captains Association also submitted a grievance letter to Director of Human Resources, Heather Lowe.
"The Association believes that the complaint and investigation are the result of poor communication at several levels in City Hall and the Police Division. We are seeking the relief of a finding of Exonerated in this investigation and the removal from all of Captain Arleth's City-maintained files any reference to being disciplined in this matter."
Lt. Dave McCabe, the president of the Association, says Lowe will first decide whether or not to overturn the sustained insubordination finding. If she doesn't, City Administrator Theresa Sanders reviews the investigation, and if there's still no resolution to the satisfaction of Arleth and the Association, the case could eventually go to arbitration.
"We just want to get across the point that [Arleth] did what he thought he was supposed to do," McCabe says. "And he doesn't feel like he should be disciplined for doing that."