The Washington Post

D.C. police didn’t violate whistleblower laws with discipline, jury rules

D.C. police officials did not violate whistleblower laws when they disciplined officers who failed to undergo mandatory annual training, a D.C. Superior Court jury ruled this week.

The Wednesday ruling, which followed a week-long civil trial, came after a lawsuit was filed by two officials with the District’s Fraternal Order of Police: Delroy Burton, the union’s executive chief, and union chairman Kristopher Baumann.

The union officials claimed that police Chief Cathy L. Lanier and other senior officers disciplined them in 2009, a year after Burton notified superiors that Lanier failed to attend a 2008 training seminar.

The three-year-old case was first heard by the District’s Public Employee Relations Board, which ruled in 2010 that Lanier and senior police officials had engaged in “retaliatory conduct” when managers disciplined Baumann and Burton.

During the trial, Lanier and her senior officers told the jury that Burton and Baumann were disciplined because they failed to undergo annual weapon and CPR training. Lanier also said that Burton’s allegations that she failed to attend the training seminar were false.

“I never miss training,” Lanier said in a Friday interview.

Baumann said both he and Burton had undergone the required training. Baumann said the verdict was an example of how difficult it was for employees to win whistleblower claims in the District.

“It’s an almost insurmountable mountain,” he said in a Friday interview.

In 2010, a Superior Court jury ruled that senior police officials violated the city’s whistleblower act when Lanier and others suspended an officer in 2005 after the officer informed city officials that the department allegedly brokered an illegal deal to provide security for the Gallery Place entertainment area downtown.

Keith Alexander covers crime, specifically D.C. Superior Court cases for The Washington Post. He has covered dozens of crime stories from Banita Jacks, the Washington woman charged with killing her four daughters, to the murder trial of slain federal intern Chandra Levy.

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