The District of Columbia government pays police officer Reginald Stanfield about $18,000 a year for his services. His services consist of making one very brief visit every other Thursday to the fourth district stationhouse at 6001 Georgia Ave. NW - to collect his paycheck.
A police trial board voted to fire Stanfield on Jan. 6, 1977, citing 19 alleged offenses that ranged from being drunk on duty - three times - to losing his service revolver - twice. But nearly a year later, the mayor's office has yet to act on Stanfield's appeal, and until it does he will stay on salary, but off duty.
"There are some pieces missing from the file," explained Martin Schaller, executive secretary to the mayor, who added that his records showed the case dating back only to April rather than to last January. "I don't see it as that old," he said.
It can take months simply to obtain a transcript of a trial board hearing, according to Schaller, and still more months to obtain briefs from the opposing lawyers. But the over-all back-log of such appeals has been sharply reduced, said Schaller, and "we no longer have a major problem."
A police official disagreed, arguing that morale and respect for departmental discipline is undermined by the phenomenon of some officers apparently profiting, if temporarily, from their misdeeds. "It only takes a small number of these cases to have a morale effect," said the official.
Police records indicate a total of 12 such cases currently awaiting action by the mayor, most dating back about a year. Nine of the officers involved are on salary, and three are not. In general, police explain, an officer charged with one major offense is likely to be suspended without pay even before his trial board hearing, while an officer charged with a series of lesser offenses is likely to remain on salary.
Either way, the officer's status at the time of his trial board appearance continues until his appeal is resolved. If he is on nonpay status and wins his appeal, he will receive back pay. If he is on pay status and loses, however, the city cannot take back the salary it has already given him. (A majority of such appeals are resolved in the officer's favor, Schaller has said)
A year ago, there were 22 cases before tha mayor, with 13 of the officers involved on salary. One officer had been waiting for a decision from the mayor since 1967. But in the wake of a Washington Post article of the subject, the most long-standing cases were apparently resolved. Today, the oldest case dates back to April, 1976, and that officer is one of those suspended without pay.
Councilwoman Willie Hardy (D-seven) said a year ago that she would seek to reform the appeals process and possibly to impose a time limit on the mayor's review. But no time limit has been established.
Normally, said Schaller, six months should be sufficient. He speculated that the Stanfield case might have taken longer because the police department had failed to forward detailed information to back up the charges against Stanfield.
The police public information office provided The Washington Post with a written summary fo those charges, showing that:
In 1970, Stanfield was charged with "inefficiency" after losing his service revolver.
In 1971, he went before a disciplinary review officer for allegedly leaving his beat and for failure to obey a superior, and was fine $200.
In 1972, he was fined $100 for being under the influence of alcohol while on duty.
In 1973, he was accused of having failed "to properly investigate an auto accident" and of unspecified "conduct unbecoming an officer."
In 1974, he was charged with failure to report promptly the loss of his service revolver: with being 30 minutes late for roll-call: and with failure to acknowledge a radio assignment.
In 1975, he was accused of "failing to devote his whole time and attention to the business of the department; with being 50 minutes late to roll-call on one occassion, an hour and 25 minutes late on another, and 55 minutes late on a third, and with "failing to carry out a complete inspection of a building which was later found to have been tampered with."
In 1976, he was charged with being under the influence of alcohol on three occassions and with having tried to falsify records in order to be paid for time when he was not working.
Stanfield did not reply to messages left for him by The Post and could not otherwise be reached for comment.