- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 10, 2012

A member of D.C. Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier’s inner circle is under investigation after she reportedly failed a routine drug screen, according to numerous officials with the Metropolitan Police Department.

Inspector Deirdre N. Porter, a 21-year veteran assigned to the Patrol Services and School Security Bureau, “will be out of the office until further notice,” according to her outgoing voice message.

At least three high-ranking police officials, including a commander and a captain, say Inspector Porter was placed on non-contact status pending the outcome of the investigation, which means she has been stripped of her gun, badge and all police powers, and must not have any contact with the public.

Chief Lanier’s office did not respond to questions about her status, and it is unclear when Inspector Porter was removed from her post or what, if any, drugs were involved.

Inspector Porter is known to be a close colleague of Chief Lanier and even closer with Assistant Chief Diane Groomes. She once served as director of the department’s Disciplinary Review Branch, which investigates reports of police misconduct and metes punishment for substantiated charges.

According to veteran lawyers who handle police misconduct cases, one of her legacies is that she introduced penalty factors into notices of proposed disciplinary charges in a way that is not supported by established case law.

In at least two police misconduct cases reviewed by The Washington Times, judicial officers have questioned her credibility.

A 2009 hearing examiner’s report in an unfair labor practices complaint before the Public Employee Relations Board states that “her responses to cross-examination on critical facts were vague and evasive.” The report adds that her responses “were equivocal and her demeanor was unconvincing on these points of fact.”

That same year, after Inspector Porter gave testimony regarding an officer’s grievance, an arbitrator said: “I accept Inspector Porter’s statement as to her belief in this matter, but I find that the record here does not support the validity of her belief.”

The investigation of Inspector Porter figures to be closely watched, as a 2011 complaint pending before the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission by four veteran police officials accuses Chief Lanier of “a disturbing pattern of discriminatory conduct” in handing down harsher discipline for male officers than female officers.

And the stakes are high for the men and women of the department when drugs are an issue.

General Orders state: “The Human Resources Officer will initiate the preparation of termination proceedings based on the recommendations from the Office of Internal Affairs for all members with a confirmed positive urine test that are not the result of a bona fide medical treatment by a licensed physician, psychiatrist and/or dentist.”

Inspector Porter joined the Metropolitan Police Department in August 1990, and has served in numerous patrol, specialized units and administrative support positions.