- The Washington Times - Monday, May 21, 2007

A Metropolitan Police Department official has filed a federal lawsuit against Chief Cathy L. Lanier challenging his demotion and seeking automatic reinstatement.

Robin Hoey, 6th District police commander since 2003, was demoted to captain of the central cell block last month in one of Chief Lanier’s first major staffing moves since taking office in January.

The lawsuit calls the demotion “outrageous, grossly fraudulent and reckless,” and seeks unspecified monetary damages and attorney fees.

According to court filings, Capt. Hoey learned of the demotion when called to a meeting in Chief Lanier’s office on April 19, but she gave no reason for the move other than to say she wanted her own command team.

During the meeting, Chief Lanier took Capt. Hoey’s commander’s badge and gave him captain bars, the lawsuit states.

“When Robin Hoey stated that the action was unfair, Chief Lanier addressed him as Captain Hoey and told him that the decision had been made,” according to the complaint.

The documents also state that the chief gave “no statement of reasons or cause for the demotion.”

Police declined to comment on the lawsuit yesterday.

“MPD cannot comment on personnel matters,” said Traci Hughes, a spokeswoman for the police department. “However, I can tell you that Chief Lanier made the decision to change the leadership of the 6th District in the best interests of MPD and the community.”

The lawsuit, filed Wednesday in federal court in the District, states that Capt. Hoey was entitled to a hearing, a reason for the demotion and the chance to respond.

The lawsuit by Capt. Hoey, a 20-year employee of the department, states that Chief Lanier told him that he was an “at will” employee, but he says he is a “career service” employee protected by the city’s Comprehensive Merit Personnel Act.

The law states that career-service employees can be disciplined only after being given notice and a chance to respond, according to the lawsuit.

Capt. Hoey was replaced by Cmdr. Robert Contee, who last year took over the police department’s special-operations division from then-Cmdr. Lanier.

The lawsuit states that the demotion caused Capt. Hoey embarrassment and humiliation and that his transfer was intended to “humiliate him and cause him harm in his personal and professional life.”

The change in leadership for the 6th District, east of the Anacostia River, was one of nearly a dozen management changes announced by Chief Lanier last month.

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