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Police union slams Lanier

The union for Metropolitan Police Department has filed a complaint against Chief Cathy L. Lanier, stating that she violated labor laws and a collective-bargaining agreement in the staffing of her signature All Hands On Deck initiative.

The complaint is scheduled to be heard early next week and states that during the five All Hands weekends, which required all 3,900 officers to work patrol shifts, Chief Lanier improperly changed work schedules and did not reschedule days off in accordance with D.C. law.

"The entire membership is tired of the department only following the rules when they want to follow the rules," said Officer Kristopher Baumann, who heads the Fraternal Order of Police's labor committee, which represents Metropolitan Police officers. "The District and the department have not followed the rules."

The complaint before the Public Employee Relations Board specifically states that the department violated the 2004 agreement because the chief gave officers not scheduled to work the weekends two split days off, rather than consecutive days. It also stated that such measures can be taken only during "declared emergencies."

The lawyer representing the union, Marc Wilhite, said department officials disputed the Nov. 28 complaint, saying they rescheduled shifts in accordance with management rights outlined in the contract with the union.

Calls made to Chief Lanier were not returned yesterday.

Union leaders hope the complaint will end such rescheduling, which could derail Chief Lanier's strategies to increase visibility of officers while she tries to build the department to its full sworn strength.

Chief Lanier, backed by Mayor Adrian M. Fenty, a Democrat, has stood by All Hands On Deck as an investment in community relations and as a strong law-enforcement strategy.

The chief in part attributes the department's improved homicide-closure rate — 70 percent last year, compared with 64 percent in 2006 — to information gleaned from the increased interaction with residents.

She also said she will continue to use "creative" strategies such as All Hands On Deck until the department has 4,200 officers by October 2009.

Chief Lanier expects the department to have 4,050 officers by October.

The push to recruit officers comes amid criticism from some D.C. Council members and community leaders about the increased crime numbers last year and a homicide count that rose for the first time since 2002.

Last year, the city had 181 homicides, compared with 169 in 2006.

The department has made modest gains in the size of the department in recent years increasing from 3,607 officers in 2001 to 3,915 last year.

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