- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 7, 2001

A D.C. police officer accused of taking a weekend joy ride in a $1 million bomb-disposal truck resigned yesterday after Police Chief Charles H. Ramsey told him to quit or be fired, police sources said.
Although former Officer James T. "Jay" Effler resigned, the Metropolitan Police Department is conducting an internal and criminal investigation for the unauthorized use of the 2-month-old truck, which is the size of a fire engine.
"He is no longer an employee of this department. He resigned," said Sgt. Joe Gentile, police spokesman. "It is a matter that is being investigated for misuse of equipment. The results of an investigation will determine what course of action will be taken."
This was not the first time Mr. Effler has been in trouble during his 12-year career on the police force. He was accused numerous times of brutality but was cleared each time.
The Washington Times reported yesterday that Mr. Effler walked into the compound for the Explosive Ordinance Disposal Unit in Southwest, flashed his badge, and left in a new, $1 million bomb containment truck on Saturday. The officer drove the truck out of the District and had to be told on Monday morning to return it when the truck was found missing.
"Someone saw him on I-95. No one knew exactly where he was going. That truck isn't something that blends into the countryside. It's like a fire engine. It's a big truck," said a police source familiar with the incident.
A police source said there was no damage to the truck, but after officers found it missing, they had to figure out who had it. They later called Mr. Effler and told him to return it.
"He brought it back Monday morning after he was asked to," the police officer said.
The officer said Chief Ramsey knew about the missing truck immediately and demanded an explanation. When he found out the details, he told Mr. Effler to quit or be fired. Mr. Effler quit.
"This got up to the chief right quick," the officer said. "The next thing we know, he's cleaning out his locker at Harbor [Patrol]."
Mr. Effler was assigned to the Harbor Patrol unit located in Southwest.
Some officers were relieved to hear Mr. Effler's career with the department had come to an end.
"With this guy, anything is possible. They should have gotten rid of this guy a real long time ago," said an officer.
Mr. Effler joined the department in 1989, making him a member of one of two now-infamous classes.
In a rush to beef up the force, police abbreviated training sessions and conducted few or no background checks on officer candidates for the 1989 and 1990 classes.
Many of the officers indicted in recent years on charges ranging from robbery to murder joined the department in either 1989 or 1990.
Eighteen complaints from the public were filed against Officer Effler by 1995, including reports that he used racial epithets, profanity and excessive force, The Washington Post reported last year.
None of those complaints were sustained by the Civilian Complaint Review Board or the police department, the Post reported.
Officer Effler also was named in three brutality suits filed against the city, the paper reported. Those lawsuits were settled for amounts ranging from $10,4000 to $31,000, the paper reported.
cJohn Drake contributed to this article.

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