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FOP: Police appointees violate residency rules
Threatens suit if law not enforced in 10 days
Question of the Day
More than half of the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) officials selected as appointees rather than through a competitive hiring process are in violation of D.C. residency requirements, according to the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP), which has called for an investigation.
In letters Monday to D.C. Inspector General Charles J. Willoughby and Department of Human Resources (DCHR) Director Shawn Stokes, the FOP also said two appointments were in violation of D.C. law and questioned whether nepotism has factored into the hiring and advancement of some of the appointees, known as excepted service employees.
"Over the past year, the FOP has become aware of several inappropriate and potentially unlawful actions by the [MPD] with regard to executive compensation and excepted service personnel," wrote Kristopher K. Baumann, chairman of the FOP, which represents 3,600 officers, detectives and sergeants. "The FOP brought these matters to the attention of both the [D.C. Council's] Committee on the Judiciary and Public Safety and Mayor Vincent Gray.
"Despite our requests for an investigation, and what appears to be admissions by the [MPD] of improper behavior, no action has apparently been taken," he wrote. "To the FOP's knowledge, no investigation was completed, no report has been issued, and no public acknowledgment of wrongdoing by any individuals has been made."
The D.C. Code provides that only police officers at the rank of captain can be selected for sworn police excepted service positions. In addition to 220 such positions, the MPD is allowed to designate 1 percent of its total authorized positions as excepted service policy positions. No more than 10 policy positions may be filled by sworn members, the Baumann letter states.
The law says all excepted service employees are required to be residents of the District within 180 days of their appointment, and those employees must certify that the District is their principal place of residence.
Any excepted service employee who fails to meet the residency requirement within that time period must forfeit his or her position, according to the letter, which cites the D.C. Code. Forfeiture means the employee must be terminated, it states.
"The FOP is concerned that a number of excepted service personnel employed by the [MPD] are not in compliance with the domicile requirements," Mr. Baumann wrote. "This includes sworn employees at the rank of inspector, commander and assistant chief and all civilian excepted service employees."
Because the MPD has not published the names and positions of all of its excepted service employees, as required by law, Mr. Baumann said on Monday the FOP does not know the total number involved. In an attempt to determine exactly which excepted service personnel reside in the District, the FOP has submitted Freedom of Information Act requests to DCHR, he said in his letter to Ms. Stokes.
Mr. Baumann added that because the MPD considers all inspectors, commanders and assistant chiefs to be excepted service for purposes of summary demotions, it has boxed itself in with respect to the rules governing those employees.
"They have no argument left that these people are somehow exempt from the rules governing excepted service employees," he said.
Late in the day on Monday, Mr. Baumann also wrote to Mr. Gray and D.C. Attorney General Irvin B. Nathan to request that they enforce the D.C. law within 10 days, after which the FOP intends to seek court action. Such action could cause upheaval within the ranks of the MPD because excepted service employees who reside outside the District cannot legitimately be paid, he said.
The FOP is requesting that the MPD disclose all excepted service employees who have been granted a waiver to reside outside the District, to determine that such waivers are appropriate.
Mr. Gray's office did not return calls and emails seeking comment.
Assistant Chief Rodney Parks said MPD conducts an annual recertification and the most recent audit revealed no violations. He said all applicants are screened to ensure they meet the requirements of the position.
"We will cooperate with any investigation of these practices," he said.
Charles T. Tucker, DCHR general counsel, said, "We look into every allegation seriously," but cautioned, "this will take time to determine which individuals are subject to these requirements and which are not."
In addition to the residency flap, the FOP alleges that Assistant Chief Alfred Durham and Cmdr. Daniel P. Hickson were appointed as excepted service employees in violation of the law because they were not captains when they were appointed. Mr. Baumann said neither appointment was permitted by D.C. law.
Noting that Cmdr. Hickson and excepted service employee Thomas Wilkins are brothers-in-law, the FOP requested an investigation to determine if any of the District's nepotism laws were violated.
"Given the current budget, morale and structural problems in the MPD, the FOP believes it is important that an independent agency, with expert knowledge of personnel matters, review and investigate these problems," Mr. Baumann wrote.
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