- The Washington Times - Friday, March 16, 2007

Acting Metropolitan Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier yesterday told receptive D.C. Council members that she was prepared to act on their concerns if they approve her nomination on a permanent basis.

“I assure you, you will see more police in your neighborhoods, working smarter and focusing on your priorities,” she said during her five-hour confirmation hearing before the council’s Committee on Public Safety and the Judiciary.

Chief Lanier faced little opposition during two hours of questioning, and some council members voiced their support for her from the dais.

The nomination will likely come to a vote by the judiciary panel at the end of the month and could go before the full council on April 3.

Chief Lanier’s confirmation appeared certain yesterday. About 60 public witnesses testified, and the overwhelming majority favored her confirmation.

“As a leader, she has a standard … that commands respect,” said Kristopher Baumann, chairman of the Fraternal Order of Police Metropolitan Police Department Labor Committee.

Joseph Persichini Jr., assistant director in charge of the FBI’s Washington Field Office, said Chief Lanier has “heart” and has made an effort to work with federal law enforcement.

“Chief Lanier has been at the forefront of change in law enforcement at the Metropolitan Police Department,” he said.

Many of the questions and criticisms Chief Lanier faced centered on the issue of community policing.

Council member Jack Evans, Ward 2 Democrat, said he still receives complaints from constituents about a lack of police presence in city neighborhoods.

Anthony Muhammad, an advisory neighborhood commissioner in Ward 8, complained that he has invited the chief to community events and that she has not appeared.

Chief Lanier said her schedule “fills up fast” and asked community leaders to be patient.

“Everybody wants me at every meeting,” she said.

Chief Lanier disagreed with a proposal by council member Jim Graham to put armed officers inside of nightclubs after recent violence, including a January shooting inside a Northwest club that killed a 17-year-old girl. Chief Lanier told Mr. Graham, Ward 1 Democrat, she would consider a proposal to station armed officers outside of clubs.

Council member Mary Cheh, Ward 3 Democrat, asked the acting chief about the department’s handling of protests, characterizing the past response as “disgraceful.”

Chief Lanier said that during past protests, including a 2002 demonstration in which police arrested nearly 400 protesters and a handful of bystanders in Pershing Park, the department lacked proper policies and training.

“There have been a lot of significant changes,” she said.

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