December 13, 2013

The album displayed on Photobucket.com is not exactly what you would expect of a 24-year veteran D.C. police officer.

Among 47-year-old Linwood Barnhill Jr.’s library of images: a young woman clad in skimpy undergarments; a young woman posing nude; a man in a uniform wearing a badge and counting stacks of cash; a hand holding a bag of a substance that appears to be marijuana; a woman kneeling on the floor exposing her naked rear end; and more of that ilk.

Barnhill was arrested Wednesday and charged with two counts of pandering; that is, inducing two girls, 15 and 16, to engage in prostitution.

His arrest came only hours after D.C. police officer Marc Washington was pulled out of the Potomac River near Hains Point on Tuesday night. (He was pronounced dead later that night.) Washington and Barnhill were assigned to the 7th Police District, which covers much of Southeast.

At the time of his death, Washington was under house arrest and was wearing a GPS bracelet because he had been charged with producing child pornography. Police Chief Cathy Lanier said last week that the cases are unrelated.

D.C. Council member Tommy Wells (D-Ward 6), chairman of the Judiciary and Public Safety Committee, which oversees the police and fire departments, called the officers “bad actors” but declared that he has full confidence in Lanier. “She shares my disappointment and disgust with these two individuals,” he added.

“Bad actors?” “Two individuals?” That’s it?

It would be profoundly wrong to infer from Wells’s comments that the actions of Barnhill and Washington represent unusual D.C. police behavior. Whether city officials wish to acknowledge it or not, the record speaks otherwise.

Last month, 45-year-old Wendel Palmer, a 22-year veteran of the D.C. police department, was convicted of sexually abusing an 11-year-old girl who sang in the church choir that he directed. He faces sentencing on Jan. 31.

D.C. police officer Larry Seay was charged in 2011 with nine counts of sexual assault, involving three women, while on duty and in uniform. Seay was suspended without pay pending the outcome of his trial. This year, a mistrial was declared after the jury couldn’t decide whether he had assaulted the women as he walked his beat. The women said they were prostitutes. The public defender representing Seay said that if there was sex, it was consensual.

Whoa. What is a cop doing having sex while on duty?

This gets us to D.C. police officer Kenneth Furr. He was at least off duty when he tried to pick up two prostitutes. Furr was convicted in October 2012 of solicitation and assault with a dangerous weapon.

Another D.C. police officer, Sean Marenkovic, was found guilty of two sex offenses in August 2011 for having sex with a 14-year-old girl he met online when he was working as a West Virginia sheriff’s deputy.

Who can forget — oh yes, maybe city officials can — D.C. Detective Richmond Phillips, who was convicted in January of murdering his girlfriend and their 11-month-old daughter?Phillips killed his girlfriend, left her body in the woods and drove off with the baby in the car. He later abandoned the car, leaving the baby in sweltering heat. That’s how she died.

Wells, who wants to be mayor, apparently is performing his police department oversight with the same boosterism that he displayed when he oversaw the Vincent Schiraldi-led Department of Youth Rehabilitation Services.

The Washington Examiner reported in September 2012 that, in the previous 3½ years, “more than 90 D.C. police officers — from detectives to captains to the rank-and-file cops on the street — have been arrested.” The charges have ranged from child pornography to murder.

That ought to be cause for alarm in the D.C. Council, as much as, say, out-of-service fire trucks and broken ambulances.

D.C. police officers dishonoring their badges is a threat to public safety. The locus of the problem, however, is not Lanier. Credit her and her team for uncovering some of the misconduct that led to the high number of arrests.

But what do these awful numbers say about the department’s hiring practices, standards of conduct and performance oversight?

Speaking of oversight: Cop and alleged pimp Linwood Barnhill, who was reportedly hanging around shopping centers and using the alias “Malik” to entice young girls into prostitution, has collected his D.C. taxpayer-provided salary — while on non-duty status — since September 2012.

Who’s watching the watchers?

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