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Terrance W. Gainer is used to absorbing darts aimed at his boss. Hired in 1998 by his former Illinois colleague, Chief Charles Ramsey, to manage the Metropolitan Police Department’s day-to-day affairs, Gainer arrived prepared to be bruised: While the PR-savvy Ramsey worked his way into the family by profiling as a cop’s cop, Gainer remained the outsider who’d come to clean up a notoriously unruly department. And a furious letter that’s been making the rounds in the department for the past couple of weeks suggests that he still has a way to go before he gets invited out for beers with D.C. cop old-timers.
Addressed to Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) head Frank Tracy and written by “Some fellow Cops from Illinois,” the letter skewers “these two morons”Gainer and recently arrived fellow transplant Gene Marlin, who works under him out of the Office of Operational Services and doesn’t have a title yet.
“If we sound bitter, it’s because we are,” the letter reads. “Please feel free to make as many copies of the letter as you care to, and pass it out to our brother and sister Cops.”
Feel free someone did: The memocontaining an array of unproven complaints ranging from the petty to the defamatorywas disseminated throughout the entire police force last week, posted on bulletin boards and Xeroxed as if it were an office NCAA pool entry form.
Among the allegations are charges that Marlin “is as close to a complete idiot as you’ll ever meet.” Gainer, meanwhile, allegedly favored cronies, hogged TV cameras, and even flubbed Illinois State Police uniform design: The authors claim Gainer’s bumbling led to cops wearing such items as ascots, short pants, and pith helmets. “People got promoted into positions that didn’t exist, with no recommendations from their commanders, and often over the objections of their commanders, just because Gainer felt like it,” the letter alleges.
Gainer says that he has no idea of the identity of the author of what he calls a “slanderous unsigned memo” and says of its allegations, “Most of them are untrue. And some are a stretch and a misrepresentation of the facts.” For instance, Gainer says that promotions were far more organized and less impulsive than the memo describes. “I can’t see anyone being upset about the practice unless they were hoping for a promotion and didn’t get one,” he says.
For others on the force in D.C., however, the more pressing question about the memo has less to do with the various chargeswhat manager couldn’t be the subject of a three-page memo on what an asshole he or she is, after all?than with who spread the letter around the department.
Gainer’s relations with Tracythe letter’s addresseeand the FOP can’t be cordial in the wake of the police union’s March no-confidence vote on Gainer. The 136-to-6 rebuke came in response to Gainer’s criticisms of unnecessary police shootingsas well as his January dissing of a specific officer for not showing up for a court hearing, after which the suspect was freed and soon allegedly killed a woman.
“Frank [Tracy] indicates that [the FOP] had no part in the distribution of the memo, and I take him at his word,” Gainer says. “But clearly someone unscrupulous is handing it out.” Tracy didn’t return repeated calls for comment.
Gainer says that the latest salvo in the war against him isn’t “going to deter me from being fair to members of the department, or changing procedures when appropriate, or holding people accountable.” Of course, it’s hard to hold anyone accountable for an 11th-generation photocopy of an anonymous letter. “I do have very high standards and am very demanding,” Gainer acknowledges, “and I think most members of this police department are happy with the bar being raised…but clearly I have upset some people.” Jake Tapper