Metro Transit Police union votes 'no confidence' in Chief Michael Taborn

Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, January 20, 2011; 10:35 PM

The union representing more than 80 percent of Metro Transit Police officers passed a resolution of "no confidence" in Chief Michael Taborn last week and asked that Metro remove him.

Union attorney Justin Keating said that about 100 to 120 members attended the union meeting Jan 12 and that all but one person - who abstained - voted for the resolution. The two-page resolution said Taborn had disregarded the collective-bargaining agreement, had failed to fix a faulty police radio system and not had paid enough attention to officer safety, among other complaints. The vote is believed to be a first for the Transit Police.

The news of the no-confidence vote was first reported by the blog Unsuck DC Metro.

"As far as we know, it has never been done before," Keating said.

He said about 350 of Metro's 420 sworn police officers are in the union, which is part of the Fraternal Order of Police.

Metro spokeswoman Lisa Farbstein said, in an e-mail, that Taborn "is making the tough decisions to fulfill his responsibility of ensuring the security of the system for our customers and employees."

Taborn, who was appointed chief in February 2008, has worked for the Transit Police for more than 30 years. He had not been notified officially of the vote by the union, Farbstein said.

Farbstein said that under Taborn, arrests have increased since 2008 and that parking lot crime has gone down. But crimes against persons and property and more serious crimes, such as aggravated assault and robbery, increased last year, compared with 2009.

She said Taborn recently reorganized some police functions, moving more sworn officers out of office jobs and into patrol jobs.

"Leading the police department requires smart solutions that use resources wisely, and it is not surprising to see this kind of reaction in the wake of organizational changes," Farbstein said.

Keating said union concerns centered on what he called a lack of responsiveness on the part of Taborn and his management team to the collective-bargaining agreement, which expired four months ago.

"Chief Taborn has allowed [Metro's] Office of Labor Relations to undermine and denigrate our Union, to insult our Chairman, and to obstruct even the most simple labor-management activities," the resolution says.

The resolution also says Taborn has not done enough to compel Metro to fix the police force's "dangerously unreliable radio system, instead blaming the officers for the problems they encounter."

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