D.C. Police Chief to Fight Ruling Against ‘All Hands on Deck' Patrol Program

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By Theola Labbé-DeBose
Saturday, September 12, 2009

D.C. Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier's All Hands on Deck crime-fighting initiative must stop immediately because it violates the police union contract and city law, an arbitrator has ruled.

Lanier said she plans to appeal this week's ruling and to continue with the program, in which all available officers are assigned patrol beats throughout the city for three consecutive days at various times during the year. Its purpose is to allow officers to interact with residents and prevent crime.

The department has barred officers from taking leave when it puts the extra police on the streets, and the union filed a grievance arguing that changing schedules without negotiation was a collective bargaining violation.

In his decision Wednesday, arbitrator John C. Truesdale agreed with the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 1. "I find that the AHOD initiatives did constitute a change to an established and bargainable term and condition of employment . . . namely, the scheduling provisions," Truesdale wrote.

Truesdale also ordered the department to provide overtime pay for officers who worked the extra shifts. Lanier has 20 days to appeal the ruling.

The dispute highlights the ongoing tension between Lanier and the union's chairman, Kristopher Baumann, who has long derided the initiative as a publicity stunt that is not linked to a specific crime-fighting strategy. Baumann testified at the June 17 arbitration hearing that there are six to 10 pending grievances related to All Hands.

"I disagree with the arbitrator's decision and am confident it will be overturned on appeal," the chief said in a statement. "The All Hands on Deck initiatives will continue pursuant to my authority under both the labor agreement and District personnel law."

Baumann said the legal victory was bittersweet because the union told the department in 2007 when it started All Hands that the program violated the contract. "The amount of money that this has already cost and will continue to cost is unfortunate," Baumann said.

In six All Hands periods this year, the department has made more than 2,000 arrests and seized more than $30,000 worth of drugs. Two more are scheduled for November and December.

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