Some more about the SPOA’s no-confidence vote

The story I wrote for today’s paper about the union’s vote of no-confidence in Chief Blair Ulring has gotten some criticism for making the union look silly. The vote is about a lot more than pants and beer concessions, it has been said.

I don’t doubt that, and, in fact, the story reflects that:

The police union declared it has no confidence in Chief Blair Ulring in a vote motivated in part by anger over a series of his rulings on policy, discipline and a general dissatisfaction with how he has handled cuts at the Police Department.

Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to get details about any other complaints.

I learned about one week ago that the SPOA was holding the vote. My source was not a police officer or a city employee. Since I had asked, a union official confirmed Thursday morning in a voice mail that the vote had been completed, and told me the result. Later, I obtained a screenshot of the vote’s tally.

No one interviewed for the story was willing to specify grievances. I wasn’t able to reach any union leaders by Thursday night. In the week before the vote I was able to dig up two specific complaints on my own, and those were confirmed, as I noted in the story, by Ulring and City Manager Bob Deis.

I was only able to express in general terms the rest, as about “punishment, policy and (Ulring’s) perceived failure to sufficiently fight cuts to the Police Department.” I’ve long known that some think Ulring is overly harsh in punishment. I’ve heard from some that they were disappointed he didn’t fight harder against layoffs.

I learned today that part of the complaint about punishment and discipline is an accusation that Ulring has interfered inappropriately in investigations by the department’s internal affairs division. That will be part of future coverage of the no-confidence vote and the union’s grievances. In the meantime, if there are others you feel are important, tell me about them. I can’t write about them if you don’t tell me about them.

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