D.C. Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier loves talking directly to city residents. And so after days of headlines about the city’s loss in another round of legal appeals on her “All Hands on Deck” initiative — which changes officers schedules so that nearly all personnel are deployed in neighborhoods on a designated weekend — Lanier took to her keyboard Wednesday night and sent a message to every police-community e-mail list in the city.
In the message, which hit households from Spring Valley to Penn Branch, Lanier said she’s gotten queries from residents and “there is a lot of misinformation in the press.” (Note: Lanier did not detail what the misinformation was.).
She went on to give what she called “accurate background,” about the program that is “one piece of my crime fighting strategy.” An excerpt:
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 (AHOD) 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.
As far as the arbitrators ruling, and recent PERB decision, our attorneys assure me that they only impact two AHODs in 2009 and no others. Additionally, they in no way preclude us from holding future AHODS.
Of course, the issue wouldn’t continue to be controversial if there wasn’t an opposing view. Just hours after Lanier hit send, Fraternal Order of Police chairman Kristopher Baumann countered with a two-page response that was sent out to all union members. An excerpt:
“The Chief has stated that the rulings at issue affected only two AHOD events in 2009. That is simply not true. Any person who reads the Arbitrator’s decision, and the PERB ruling, can plainly see the falsity of her argument. The FOP invites anyone who is interested to read the rulings – they are posted on the FOP’s website: www.fop-mpd.org.
The Chief also has stated that the FOP Chairman supported AHOD when it was announced. That, too, is false. While the FOP supported the end of improper Crime Emergencies; the FOP has been filing grievances regarding AHOD since 2007, because AHOD violates District law and our contract. It is only because the FOP challenged the AHOD program that we now have the two rulings that the Chief is trying to distort. Every AHOD deployment has been challenged by the FOP and is pending arbitration.....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.”
One thing that’s clear after this latest exchange between Lanier and the police union: it’s all hands on deck on each side when it comes to debating this issue.