April 13, 1998

Front Page

Council hears police department recommendations

     by Jane McClure
   Contributing writer

   CARNATION--City Council members last week heard recommendations from Acting Police Chief George Potts and City Administrator Randy Suko on ways to strengthen the management of the city's police department.
   Cmdr. Potts cited the department's lack of a formal reporting system to other city officials, the absence of established goals for both the deparment and individual officers, the lack of an up-to-date policies and procedures manual, no written guidelines for working with law enforcement agencies in contiguous jurisdictions and no weekly activity reports to the public as "red flags." Potts, on loan from the Redmond Police Department, has been taking the place of Public Safety Director Gunnar Otness, who was placed on administrative leave during the recent investigations into the conduct of Officer Frank Sloan.
   Suko then presented specific policy recommendations designed to ensure consistency in responding to citizens. He said the city needs to provide financial accountability and monitoring of the department; define responsibilities of the mayor, council, administrator and chief; establish direct accountability of the department to the mayor, council and administrator; standardize record-keeping, file management and documentation practices and improve the response time to complaints made against city employees. The recommendations were referred to the Public Health and Safety committee for review, and Potts invited council members to ride with the officers during a shift to observe the department's work firsthand.
   Mayor Pro Tem David Hunter announced that the Association of Washington Cities had completed its investigation of a complaint made against Carnation police Officer Frank Sloan and submitted its report. The council will review the report's findings over the next two weeks and consider actions to be taken. Hunter reaffirmed the council's commitment to the continued confidential handling of this matter to ensure respect for all those affected by the investigation. "This has been a difficult time for the city, for council, for staff and for Officer Sloan, who is a well liked individual," Hunter said. Hunter reported that the city's contingency fund was sufficient to cover the $30,000 in unbudgeted costs--mostly legal fees--that have been incurred by the city recently. He also reported that the city had two weeks remaining under its existing contract with the Redmond Police Department for the services of Cmdr. Potts. The King County Sheriff has offered to provide a sergeant to serve as Carnation's acting police chief for six months at no charge. The Public Health and Safety Committee was asked to review the matter and make a recommendation to the council in two weeks.
   Councilmembers also discussed the process for selecting the next mayor. The council has 90 days to fill the position, which was vacated Mar. 3. Candidates must be registered voters and have resided within Carnation for at least one year. Hunter expressed concern that public input into the decision, though not required, may be desirable at this time. Councilman Don Raybuck said he had been elected to represent the citizens and was comfortable in supporting Hunter for the position. Support for Hunter also was expressed by Councilmembers Paula Turner and Ron Chapin, as well as by several in the audience. It was decided to keep the nomination process open through April, review candidates at the May workshop and vote at the May 19 council meeting.
   In other council business, the city administrator apprised the council of delays the city has experienced in obtaining septic permits from the King County Health Department over the past year and a half. Projects adversely affected include the Carnation Town Center project, Pete's Club, renovation of the historic downtown hotel, Sandy's Espresso, Rusebud's and a subdivision off Entwistle Street. Those problems, along with suggestions for improving the process, were outlined in a seven-page letter to King County Council Chair Louise Miller.
   The council also directed staff to proceed with the purchase and installation of a $1,500 public address system for the chambers.