D.C. Police Chief Cathy Lanier email defends All Hands on Deck
Say what you will about D.C. Police Chief Cathy Lanier, but she puts up one hell of a fight. After losing a recent ruling that questions the legality of "All Hands on Deck," she insisted that the crime-fighting initiative will continue as planned this weekend. Now, miffed about media coverage of her standoff with the cops' union, she's sent an email in her defense to every police-community list.
There's "a lot of misinformation in the press," she writes, then makes her case for AHOD (full text here):
In 2006, in response to a spike in violent crimes and homicides in the early summer, Chief Ramsey declared a crime emergency. By declaring the crime emergency the union contract was suspended and all members of the department were required to work 12 hours a day, six days a week. The Crime Emergency remained in place for nearly six months and cost the city 17 million dollars in overtime expenses. While I agree that the steps Chief Ramsey took at the time were necessary to keep our residents safe, it was very hard on the members of the police department, who had to cancel leave, vacations, and days off.
When I became the Chief in 2007, I proposed the concept of the All Hands on Deck to our labor union and their membership. I received their concurrence that violent crime spikes are predicable. As such, we did a detailed crime analysis and selected four to six dates a year, when violent crime was most prevalent, and scheduled the entire Department to work. On those dates, those not assigned to patrol (i.e. Administrative and support personnel) are deployed on the street to increase visibility and prevent crime. We publish these dates in January of every year so our members can schedule their vacations and personal time around them. This initiative requires a minimal time commitment, requires no overtime, and allows the officers to maintain two days off during the AHOD week. Lastly, only a small number of officers are impacted by the AHOD.
The Fraternal Order of Police responded [pdf] with a two-page message to members, which included the following:
The ruling last Friday was the second loss in a row for the Chief on her signature initiative. The ruling meant that her pet project is unlawful and tremendously expensive, as there are millions to pay in penalty overtime compensation – none of which has been budgeted. Rather than accepting the truth of the rulings, and obeying the law as it has been repeatedly explained by independent legal reviewers, Chief Lanier is responding in a manner that would be inappropriate for anyone, let alone a public servant. She is misrepresenting the significance of the ruling, misrepresenting the facts surrounding AHOD, and doing her best to threaten the FOP into backing down. That will not happen. ...
The Chief also contends that AHOD is a crime-fighting measure. The officers on the street know better – it is a publicity gimmick. Certainly, a higher police presence may reduce crime temporarily during the three days of AHOD – that is the precise reason why the FOP is continually advocating for increased staffing levels, and changes to the Department that will make this a place where people want to stay. But forcing everyone to walk around for 3-day weekends that are planned months in advance has no relation to true crime fighting, and is not a serious, long-term strategy. That is probably why the Chief admitted, in an August 24, 2008 Washington Post article that 'Absolutely, it's a public relations stunt -- and it works! People like it. So, if they like it, criticize me.' ...
No matter how the Chief tries to spin the issue, the fact is that the FOP has defeated the Chief twice on the issue of AHOD. Today, I sent a letter to Mayor Vincent Gray, explaining these issues in detail, and pointing out that the Chief’s position in response to the rulings is a flagrant disregard for the law, and allowing her to continue with AHOD will rack up significant costs for the District. You are invited to review that letter on the FOP website; it provides a thorough overview of why the Chief’s position cannot be trusted.
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