Police Chief Cathy Lanier on July 4. (BILL O'LEARY/THE WASHINGTON POST)

The future of one of Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier’s signature initiatives — ‘All Hands on Deck’ weekends where extra officers patrol the city — is in serious doubt after a board ruling released Friday.

The Public Employee Relations Board, which referees government labor disputes, upheld an arbitrator’s 2009 decision that “AHODs” broke various provisions of the police officers’ contract, including a provision against changing work schedules without negotiation. The board found “no merit to MPD’s arguments” for overturning the arbitration decision.

The upshot is that police officers might well be entitled to tens of millions of dollars in overtime pay. During an All Hands on Deck weekend, officers are required to work an eight-hour patrol shift every day, upping police presence on the District’s streets.

Police union chairman Kristopher Baumann said the costs to the city could be “staggering” — anywhere from $1.5 million to $4.3 million per AHOD weekend, of which there have been dozens.

Whether the board ruling constitutes an immediate death sentence for AHOD remains to be seen. A police spokeswoman did not immediately return a call for comment, but after the 2009 decision, Lanier forged right ahead with AHOD, and it’s continued ever since. PERB rulings can be appealed to the District courts, but the prospect of running up further legal expenses, not to mention huge overtime bills, might be enough to kill the program given the tight city budget. Lanier herself indicated in a 2009 WTOP appearance that PERB would get the final say.

Lanier said in a 2009 statement: “As our reduction in violent crimes and homicides this year demonstrates, the initiative is in the best interest of our city and the safety of our residents.” The police union, meanwhile, portrays AHOD as “the most expensive public relations campaign this city has ever had.”

UPDATE, 2:25 P.M.: Lanier released a statement, in which she says that AHODs will continue as planned:

Contrary to what the FOP asserts, the PERB ruling was not a directive to discontinue All Hands on Deck (AHOD). The decision is limited to the 2009 AHODs and thus has no impact on any of the other AHODs.

The FOP, it seems, would prefer a more reactive approach to policing that would revert back to crime emergencies, in which members worked 12 hour shifts six days a week - costing taxpayers $17 million in overtime.

It is absurd to suggest that there is a problem with my announcing proactive, targeted dates for these initiatives months in advance, and that I should instead simply suspend the contract, provide no notice of scheduling changes, and engage in ineffective reactive policing.

We are consulting with the Office of the Attorney General to determine whether or not to appeal this decision.

Here’s the ruling:

PERB AHOD Decision 8/5/2011