D.C. police official Groomes returns to job

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By Theola Labbé-DeBose
Thursday, December 23, 2010; 6:54 AM

A high-ranking D.C. police official placed on administrative leave over allegations that she had "compromised" an exam has been reinstated to her job, Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier said Wednesday night.

Assistant Chief Diane Groomes "has been restored to duty and returned to her position as the official in charge of the Patrol Services and Security Bureau," Lanier said in an e-mail.

Lanier had placed Groomes, 44, on administrative leave last month, issuing a statement to the media that said Groomes was allegedly involved in "compromising" a test administered to her fellow command staff.

Lanier said her decision came after an internal investigation concluded that Groomes did not "compromise" the test. Rather, the internal probe found that the exam was an open-book test. "No official obtained or shared the answer key," Lanier said.

But Kristopher Baumann, chairman of the labor committee of Lodge 1 of the Fraternal Order of Police, which represents lower-ranking officers on the 4,000-member force, questioned why Lanier took action against Groomes in the first place.

"Well, they knew it was an open-book exam before they put out a press release destroying Chief Groomes's reputation," Baumann said. "If this is how careless they're going to be about allegations and investigations, then I hope that the new Mayor-elect [Vincent] Gray will take a careful look at the decisions being made by Chief Lanier."

When reached last night, Groomes said in an e-mail, "Thank you to all those on my staff ?.?. community groups ... [police department] members (both sworn and civilian) for all of their support and prayers. I look forward to continuing the job that I love doing. ... Happy holidays to all."

Groomes, a 20-year member of the department, will continue to oversee the patrol services and school security bureau. It is the section that shows the department's most public face to residents, and it includes hundreds of front-line officers assigned to seven police districts across the city. Groomes, whose salary is about $150,000, is well known and popular among residents.

When announcing Groomes's leave Nov. 19, the department said that it would throw out the exam, invalidate the results for all members of the command staff and develop a new test. Given the results of the internal investigation, it was not immediately clear Wednesday night if those actions would still be taken.


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