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D.C.’s All Hands on Deck initiative hits another potential setback

- The Washington Times - Monday, August 8, 2011

Metropolitan Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier's signature crime-prevention blitz, known as All Hands on Deck, was delivered a second potential setback since coming under union fire.

On Friday, the Public Employees Relations Board upheld a 2009 ruling that requires overtime pay for police officers who work extra shifts as part of the initiative and also directs police officials to rescind orders enabling the initiative.

All Hands on Deck increases the number of officers on city streets for several days at a time by requiring all officers to work eight-hour shifts each day and reschedule their time off. Police union officials have called the initiative a high-profile show that unfairly changes officers' schedules without first bargaining with the union.

"All Hands on Deck is the most expensive public relations campaign this city has ever had, and that's all it ever was," Kristopher Baumann, chairman of the Fraternal Order of Police, said Monday.

He estimates each weekend patrol costs the District $1.5 million to $4.3 million. The department scheduled eight AHOD outings in 2009.

While the union thinks last week's ruling finally puts a stop to the initiatives, Chief Lanier, who has continued the practice while appealing the 2009 decision, has a different interpretation.

"Contrary to what the FOP asserts, the ruling was not a directive to discontinue All Hands on Deck," she said in a statement issued Monday. "The decision is limited to the 2009 AHODs and thus has no impact on any of the other AHODs."

The employees relations board, a city agency that resolves labor-management disputes between D.C. government and unions, did not return calls seeking clarification on the ruling.

Chief Lanier also said she was conferring with the attorney general's office to determine whether to appeal the board's most recent decision.

The next All Hands on Deck is scheduled for this weekend, Friday through Sunday, said police department spokeswoman Gwendolyn Crump.

Chief Lanier has said she likes the initiative, planned months in advance, because it puts officers on the street before crimes occur.

Alternative options used previously included the declaration of a crime emergency that suspends the collective bargaining agreement with the union and mandates that officers work extra shifts and longer hours after crime spikes.

"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," Chief Lanier said.

The union argues the longer the department continues the "unlawful" policy, the more it will cost taxpayers.

"If they continue to disobey the law, this will end up in court on a contempt order," Mr. Baumann said.

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