I recently had the opportunity to read the article titled “Zero Tolerance Bites Back” (City Desk, 9/5) in reference to the Metropolitan Police Department’s new policy for any officer more than 10 minutes late for a court appearance to be labeled a no-show and formally reprimanded. I also read that one of assistant chief Sonya Proctor’s captains felt it was hurting the officers’ morale.
I, as an MPD officer, can say morale among the officers is once again at an all-time low. Most individuals don’t understand that there is no sufficient parking for officers attending court. The Fraternal Order of Police parking lot, which is located at 4th and S Streets NW, isn’t large enough, and most of the time if you are lucky enough to get on the lot you will be blocked in by another vehicle. Not to mention, most of the vehicles parked are not police officers attending court. They are merely civilians who work for the police department. The lot isn’t monitored, so it has turned into a charity parking lot for all! The officers are also allowed to park on one side of 4th within one block, not to mention one block on both sides of E Street.
The parking I just described is not sufficient for a police department that has over 3,000 members. Most police departments provide adequate parking for their members, but not in the nation’s capital! If you’re not lucky enough to get one of the few spaces by arriving at 6 o’clock in the morning, you will be parking at your own risk. You’re probably thinking about the broken meters; well, if the Department of Public Works thinks you have been there for more than two hours you will receive a ticket for sure, whether you are a police officer or not. They have a quota to meet, and they could care less whether or not you are attending court. Most of the officers play musical parking spaces, moving their vehicles every two hours.
In most occupations, if you are required to come to work you can guarantee a place to park, except MPD. There are lots of officers who have decided it is in their best interest to come to court as little as possible to avoid the parking problems, numerous tickets, and of course being suspended without pay for a day or two if you are late or miss court more than once. I also read where Inspector Joseph Adamany of the court liaison office was quoted as saying, “We’ve got to get the troops to court on time. Period.” It is apparent that the inspector doesn’t have parking problems like those who come to court daily after working from 10 at night to 6 in the morning only to rush to court to get a parking space and after spending approximately 15 hours awake just to find you have a pink surprise that is going to cost you $55 because you weren’t able to move your vehicle due to the fact you had to testify and represent the governmentthe same government that issued you the ticket! Sometimes I ask myself, with the lack of support from most officials and citizens, is it really worth it?