- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 7, 2005

A D.C. deputy fire chief who last month struck an 11-year-old child in a crosswalk and left before police investigated did not ask for an officer to report to the scene, according to a tape of the emergency call — a violation of department policy.

Chief Beatrice Rudder also did not identify whether she was involved in the accident or simply a witness, according to tapes obtained by The Washington Times through a Freedom of Information Act request to the city’s Office of Unified Communications.

“Firefighting deputy to communications, I need an ambulance right away at Ninth and G streets Northeast,” Chief Rudder says, then pauses before adding, “for a child struck.”

The call is the only time that she speaks on the recording.

A call taker acknowledges the chief’s call and the time, 3:37 p.m., and a dispatcher sends units to respond to the accident scene.

Several of the units can be heard responding to the dispatcher.

According to Article 20 of the fire department’s order book, if there is a vehicle accident, the driver should request a dispatcher notify a battalion chief, the department’s on-duty safety officer and the Metropolitan Police Department.

About 40 minutes after Chief Rudder’s call to communications, at 4:17 p.m., the dispatcher is heard on the tape notifying the fire department’s safety officer.

“OK, safety officer, we need you to respond to Ninth and G streets NE — the number 9 and G, as in George, streets NE — for a child struck,” the dispatcher says. “We also need you to contact Chief Rudder.”

The safety officer then indicates that he is already on the scene of the accident.

Nowhere on the tape are police or a battalion chief notified, nothing indicates how dispatchers were alerted to send a safety officer, nor is there any indication of how the safety officer was alerted to respond to the accident scene.

Chief Rudder, 51, was placed on paid administrative leave on March 23 after The Washington Times reported that she had hit a child in a crosswalk and left the scene before police investigated the accident. She did not return a phone call seeking comment yesterday and has not returned several other calls in the weeks since the accident.

A police spokesman has said that leaving the scene of a minor traffic accident is an “arrestable” misdemeanor offense.

No charges have been filed against Chief Rudder.

Fire Chief Adrian H. Thompson has said Chief Rudder will face an administrative hearing. Ed Reiskin, deputy mayor for public safety and justice, said he will let the fire department make any disciplinary decisions.

Discipline could be meted out as a reprimand, suspension, reduction in rank or termination after an administrative hearing.

Chief Rudder was driving a Ford Excursion when she struck an 11-year-old boy in the 900 block of G Street NE at about 3:35 p.m. on March 15. She left before police investigated the accident, according to a police report and fire officials.

The boy, who suffered minor injuries, was transported to Children’s Hospital, where he was admitted overnight for observation.

Fire officials said that several hours after the accident, Chief Rudder went to a police station to see whether a report had been filed. When she learned there was no police report, she filed one at the 5th Police District headquarters.

The accident occurred in the 1st Police District.

Chief Rudder, who earns $112,769 a year, joined the department in 1978 and was the first woman to complete firefighter training in the District. She was one of three finalists for the fire chief’s job in 2002, after Chief Ronnie Few resigned.

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