A D.C. Superior Court judge yesterday blocked a trial board hearing for a D.C. police officer charged with profiting from his job as property clerk -- allowing him to retire with all his benefits and avoid facing the board.
Judge William S. Thompson blocked the hearing, scheduled yesterday for Lt. Douglas L. Cissel, for 10 days. But in the meantime, Cissel will be able to retire Saturday as part of an early-out program that gives 19-year veterans such as himself retirement benefits earlier than usual. If Cissel had been convicted by the trial board and dismissed, he would have lost his benefits.
Cissel blocked the police department's property office, which handled more than $1 million in confiscated merchandise in 1979. He was charged with failing to collect money owed on an impounded 1975 Volkswagen and instead buying the car from the owner for his private use.
Cissel was notified July 21 that he would have to appear before the trial board. After the department announced on Aug. 12 that officers with 18 or 19 years on the force would be allowed to retire with benefits, he put in his retirement notice.
Cissel's trial date had been scheduled for Sept. 30, but after he announced he would retire, Police Chief Burtell M. Jefferson changed the date to Aug. 27 "to give Lt. Cissel an opportunity to defend" himself before he retired, Jefferson said in a letter to Cissel's attorney.
However, the attorney, Robert Greenberg, charged in Cissel's petition to the court that Jefferson "was unlawfully blocking Lt. Cissel's retirement to conerce him to appear before a trial board . . ."
Greenberg argued that if Cissel did not retire Aug. 30, he would suffer irreparably because he would lose a 6.1 percent cost-of-living increase in benefits that went into effect last March 1.
Thompson issued no statement in granting Cissel a temporary restraining order.
The department had charged Cissel with violating a police order that states "Members shall . . . recognize the limitations of their authority and at no time use the power of their office for their personal advantage," according to the notice of charges.
Cissel also was charged with violating an order that prohibits "employment for any business or in any capacity over which the Metropolitan Police Department exercises a special supervisory, regulatory or enforcement function."
In 1979, it was charged, Cissel worked as an auctioneer for Irving Kamins, owner of Arcade Auction Inc., 733 15th St. NW, while overseeing a police contract with the firm.
Cissel also was charged with violating an order that prohibits police officers "from accepting personal or business favors such as social courtesies, loans, discounts, services or other considerations of monetary value which might influence or be reasonably suspected of influencing their decisions as representatives of the District government."