- The Washington Times - Monday, July 22, 2013

A D.C. Superior Court judge has upheld an administrative board’s ruling that puts the Metropolitan Police Department on the hook for millions of dollars in back pay and raises questions about the continued use of Chief Cathy L. Lanier’s signature crime-fighting initiative.

The department and the Fraternal Order of Police have sparred regularly over the use of All Hands on Deck, which the union says unfairly changes officers’ schedules without union negotiation. But a ruling handed down Friday by Judge Michael L. Rankin dismisses the department’s latest challenge to the union’s class-action grievance.

The ruling affirms a 2011 Public Employee Relations Board’s decision, which upheld an arbitrator’s 2009 decision that police officers must be paid overtime for working the extra shifts required by the initiative.

Fraternal Order of Police Chairman Kristopher Baumann estimates that for the deployments in 2009 alone, the department could owe back pay upwards of $40 million. The police department has disputed the dollar amounts in question, A police spokeswoman said the office of the attorney general would review the decision and advise the department on its next legal steps, adding it was “undisputed that nothing in the court’s decision precludes or prohibits the Department’s continued use of AHOD as a robust and effective crime-fighting tool.

“We have shown over the past 6 years that AHOD deployments are successful in deterring violent crime, and we have every intention of continuing to use AHODs in the future to continue our success and reduce violent crime even further,” Gwendolyn Crump said in an email.

During All Hands on Deck periods, the department 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.

“The department has spent years trying to appeal the decision, only to lose at each stage,” Mr. Baumann said Monday.

The department had argued that the Public Employee Relations Board’s decision on the arbitrator’s award was an “abuse of discretion,” according to Judge Rankin’s ruling.

The police union cheered the decision, saying it affirmed what it has argued all along — that officers should be compensated for overtime worked and that the initiative must stop.

“Every [All Hands on Deck period] from 2007 through 2013 is in some stage of litigation at this point,” Mr. Baumann said.

In 2011, the department complied with an order forcing overtime payment for officers who worked extra shifts during two All Hands on Deck weekends in 2009. It was unclear how much was paid to compensate officers at that time.

Judge Rankin’s ruling upheld the original decision by arbitrator John C. Truesdale, which stated the department should rescind an order sent to officers Jan. 7, 2009, that outlined eight dates that year for All Hands on Deck initiatives.

The ruling does not address a time frame for the department to pay back wages owed.

“In the real world, the department should comply,” Mr. Baumann said.

But he noted the union would likely end up filing a motion for enforcement.