By Theola Labbé-DeBose
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, November 14, 2009
Despite a ruling by a federal arbitrator that her most public crime-fighting strategy is illegal and should end immediately, D.C. Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier kicked off another weekend of the All Hands on Deck program with a public announcement Friday in Northwest Washington, praising its necessity and vowing it will continue.
Lanier brought close to two dozen police academy recruits to the corner of Seventh and Kennedy streets NW as an example of the extra manpower available during the initiative, which began at 6 a.m. Friday and will end at 6 a.m. Sunday. It was the first All Hands since arbitrator John C. Truesdale ruled in September that the program violates the police union contract and city law. The police union filed grievances against the department, arguing that to accommodate the special deployments, it changed work schedules without negotiation, which is a collective bargaining violation.
The department appealed the arbiter's decision, which was upheld. The department is appealing to the D.C. Public Employee Relations Board.
"As we continue through the process and await the decision of the PERB, we will continue with All Hands on Deck," Lanier said. "It's an important part of keeping our community safe."
Lanier was accompanied by Mayor Adrian M. Fenty (D), who said that the city's legal counsel has advised that the department can continue while the appeal is pending and that the department's case is on "strong legal ground."
But Kris Baumann, chairman of Fraternal Order of Police D.C. Lodge 1, which filed the grievances, said that the chief and mayor's actions were a flagrant disregard for the arbitrator's ruling. Baumann said that the city could face hefty fines.
"The message that the chief and the mayor are sending is that they will not obey the union contract or the law," Baumann said.
Lanier said she thinks that All Hands is critical to public safety because it allows the extra officers to proactively knock on doors, greet neighbors and help assist homicide detectives in investigations.
"When all we're doing is responding to 911 calls, the crimes have already occurred," she said. "While we will continue to do that . . . [with this] we can be not just responders, but we can be part of the community and help prevent crime."
Lanier said that the extra officers also assist with tracking down suspects on outstanding warrants.
The police recruits walked in clusters of 10 and 12 going from business to business along a commercial strip of Kennedy Street to hand out fliers seeking information in the slaying of Rufina Hernandez, a liquor store clerk shot during a robbery in the nearby 5400 block of Georgia Ave NW on Nov 7. Hernandez gave the two robbers money, but she was shot in the neck and later died.
A $25,000 reward has been offered in the case.