- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 12, 2005

The District’s attorney general will not file charges against a deputy fire chief who hit an 11-year-old child in a crosswalk and left the scene before police investigated last month, officials said yesterday.

“No charges will be filed against Chief [Beatrice] Rudder,” said Traci Hughes, spokeswoman for Attorney General Robert Spagnoletti. “The attorney general’s office made the decision based on the review of information from an investigation.”

Chief Rudder, 51, will face a trial board in the fire department, Fire Chief Adrian H. Thompson said during a D.C. Council hearing yesterday.

Discipline against Chief Rudder could be meted out as a reprimand, suspension, reduction in rank or termination.

“We’re waiting for the [attorney general’s] review to come across our desk to find out what the decision is in terms of how we handle the Chief Rudder case,” Chief Thompson said.

“Subsequent to that review, if they decide to prosecute from a legal side, then that’s finished. If they don’t decide to prosecute, then we’ll begin our trial board as soon as possible.”

A department spokeswoman said Chief Thompson was informed of the attorney general’s decision not to file charges after the hearing.

Chief Rudder, who earns $112,769 a year, joined the department in 1978 and was the first woman to complete firefighter training in the District. She was one of three finalists for the fire chief’s job in 2002, after Chief Ronnie Few resigned.

The Washington Times reported that Chief Rudder was driving a fire department-owned Ford Excursion when she struck the boy in the 900 block of G Street NE about 3:35 p.m. on March 15. She left before police investigated the accident, according to a police report and fire officials.

The boy, who suffered minor injuries, was transported to Children’s Hospital, where he was admitted overnight for observation.

Council member Phil Mendelson, an at-large Democrat whose committee oversees the fire department, yesterday asked Chief Thompson about Chief Rudder’s status during the hearing.

Mr. Mendelson, chairman of the judiciary committee, also asked Chief Thompson for a list of non-emergency accidents involving department personnel and whether firefighters are disciplined for involvement in motor vehicle accidents.

Chief Thompson said that when employees are found to have violated city policies, “corrective action is taken.”

Ed Reiskin, deputy mayor for public safety and justice, told The Times he will let the fire department make any disciplinary decisions in the case.

A police spokesman has told The Times that leaving the scene of a minor traffic accident is an “arrestable” misdemeanor offense.

Chief Rudder did not ask for an officer to report to the scene, a violation of department policy. She also did not identify whether she was involved in the accident or simply a witness, according to a recording of her emergency call.

Article 20 of the fire department’s order book states that in the case of a vehicle accident, the driver should request a dispatcher notify a battalion chief, the department’s on-duty safety officer and the Metropolitan Police Department.

Fire officials said that several hours after the accident, Chief Rudder went to a police station to see whether a report had been filed. When she learned there was no police report, she filed one at the 5th Police District headquarters.

The accident occurred in the 1st Police District.

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