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D.C. traffic whistleblower’s efforts stall
Question of the Day
A veteran Metropolitan Police sergeant says higher-ups at the department and the city council chairman are protecting a manager accused of misusing department funds, failing to rescind defective speed-camera citations and improperly voiding legitimate tickets.
Sgt. Mark Robinson, a 22-year veteran who served with the department’s automated traffic enforcement unit, said the police internal affairs bureau told him that it had upheld allegations he brought against Homeland Security Bureau Program Manager Lisa Sutter, but no punishment or penalties were sought.
He also said that despite being dubbed a whistleblower, he has been removed from his post.
Fraternal Order of Police Chairman Kristopher Baumann said he was not surprised that Ms. Sutter has gone unscathed despite complaints to numerous oversight bodies and adverse internal affairs findings.
“The unit that she heads is a cash cow for the city,” Mr. Baumann said.
Sgt. Robinson said he took his concerns about Ms. Sutter to the Metropolitan Police Department, D.C. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson and D.C. Inspector General Charles Willoughby, but police officials under the purview of Chief Cathy L. Lanier declined to act on the findings by internal affairs.
In a July 13 letter to Mr. Willoughby, Mr. Mendelson, chairman of the council’s Judiciary Committee, wrote that Sgt. Robinson should be considered a whistleblower and that D.C. policy was to encourage whistleblowers to come forward. But Sgt. Robinson said he was moved from the automated traffic enforcement unit to a special events post shortly after he filed his complaints and has not been returned to normal duty.
The Mendelson letter included a statement by Sgt. Robinson accusing Ms. Sutter of giving $25,000 to a nonprofit without proper authority, improperly using automated traffic enforcement revenue to cater a staff meeting, and failing to rescind more than 100,000 defective citations resulting from portable speed cameras while improperly voiding an undisclosed number of other citations that had been approved by sworn police department reviewers.
According to documents attached to the letter, the police department’s office of audit and compliance referred the matter to internal affairs, which upheld some of the accusations, yet police officials took no action.
‘Not worth their time’
While police department officials did not impose any discipline in response to the internal affairs investigation, it is unclear what action, if any, the inspector general’s office took.
Ms. Sutter declined to comment.
Willoughby spokeswoman Blanche Bruce said the inspector general’s office usually gets back to a requestor “in the appropriate manner, but we don’t talk about ongoing matters.” She also would not confirm whether Sgt. Robinson’s complaints constituted an “ongoing matter.”
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