- The Washington Times - Sunday, October 21, 2012

A D.C. police commander who sued the department and lost after he was demoted in the early days of Chief Cathy L. Lanier’s administration has again been promoted to lead one of the city’s police districts.

Robin Hoey, ousted as head of the department’s 6th District in 2007, confirmed he will take over as the commander of the Metropolitan Police Department’s 7th District after current Cmdr. Joel Maupin retires next month.

“It’s going to be refreshing. There are challenges, but I enjoy it — the good, the bad, and the ugly,” said Cmdr. Hoey, a 26-year department veteran. “As corny as it may sound, I really love public service.”

In one of her first major shuffles of personnel after assuming control of the police department in 2007, Chief Lanier demoted Cmdr. Hoey to the rank of captain and transferred him to the city’s central cellblock.

The move angered residents, who lauded Cmdr. Hoey’s engagement with the community. It also sparked a lawsuit and long-running legal appeals.

Chief Lanier gave no explanation for the demotion at the time other than to say she wanted her own command team. In a legal battle that lasted until this year, an attorney for Cmdr. Hoey argued that the demotion was illegal and that the chief had discretion to summarily demote only a limited number of those within her inner circle of handpicked advisers. The lawsuit sought Cmdr. Hoey’s reinstatement to his former rank and back pay. The Court of Appeals last year upheld Chief Lanier’s authority to demote Cmdr. Hoey and another officer, and a petition for the Office of Employee Appeals to review the case was denied this summer, finally bringing the legal battle to a close.

Cmdr. Hoey declined to discuss the case at length.

“It was just a personnel issue that was completely resolved,” he said, adding his latest transfer had nothing to do with legal proceedings.

An exact start date for Cmdr. Hoey’s takeover of the 7th District could not be confirmed through an MPD spokesman, but residents said the commander is already making the rounds in the community stopping by Malcolm X Elementary School in Southeast during the day Wednesday and attending a community meeting Wednesday night.

“We’re very excited and delighted to have someone who knows the community,” said Yvonne Moore, an Advisory Neighborhood Commission member who lives in the 7th District.

The Fairlawn neighborhood where Ms. Moore has lived for the last 38 years was part of the 6th District when Cmdr. Hoey oversaw it but was moved to the 7th District in a boundary realignment this year. Residents there were regularly impressed with Cmdr. Hoey’s dedication to addressing residents’ concerns, she said.

“He would return your call no matter what time it was. He was going to call you before the end of the day,” Ms. Moore said. “That’s what the community liked about him.”

But taking the reins of the Southeast district, which so far this year has recorded the highest level of violent crime of the city’s seven police districts, could be a challenge.

“For far too long the 7th District has suffered unacceptable amounts of crime and inadequate police resources,” D.C. police union president Kristopher Baumann said.

With violent crime up in the districtby 13 percent as of this week compared to this time last year, according to internal police data Mr. Baumann stressed that it is important as ever that a new commander be afforded the resources needed, such as additional officers.

“We’ve had major reductions over the years but we are going to specifically target the violent crime,” Cmdr. Hoey said. “We are going to do what we can to have safe neighborhoods.”

• Andrea Noble can be reached at anoble@washingtontimes.com.

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