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Lou Cannon, chief of the D.C. Protective Services Police Department, is suing the District in federal court over a recent pay cut after the city caught wind that he’d been receiving both a full salary and a pension, in apparent violation of the city law.
Cannon is joined by five other retired Metropolitan Police Department officers who rejoined the city’s work force (all currently work for Cannon at the Protective Services Police Department, which polices city-owned buildings). LL documented Cannon et al.‘s pay imbroglio last year, reporting that the District has started cracking down on several employees it says have been improperly receiving both a full salary and a full pension for years.
In court papers filed last month, Cannon’s attorney says his clients fall under the Civil Service Retirement System and therefore aren’t subject to the city law that requires retired cops, firefighters, and teachers who return to the city workforce to have their new salaries be offset by their pensions. The city is arguing that Cannon and the officers aren’t part of the civil service system.
What’s really interesting is that Cannon et al. are claiming “deprivation of equal protection under law.” Why? Well, you may recall from LL’s column that MPD Chief Cathy Lanier, upon learning that three of her deputies were going to have their salaries offset by their pensions, gave them huge raises. Cannon and the other plaintiffs say that’s not fair, because they did get their pay offset. Or, in legalese: “By the District of Columbia government enforcing this offset against the Plaintiffs … but effectively negating the effect of the offset on other persons by simply giving them more money, the Plaintiffs … have been denied equal protection of the laws.”
Now LL’s no lawyer, but it seems like this argument may prove tricky for the Gray administration to defend; you’ll recall that they had no good answers as to why Lanier was able to give her subordinates huge raises while other double dippers went without. The attorney for the District declined to comment on that part of the case; the phone of Cannon’s attorney’s, Matthew LeFande (the subject of this old City Paper story by Jason Cherkis) just kept ringing and ringing with no answer. Cannon didn’t immediately return a call for comment.
The complaint says the District started enforcing the offset at the beginning of this year, and that some of the plantiffs “received pay statements of zero dollars.” The complaint also says that the District has identified 28 alleged double dippers, but that there could be “several hundred” more.
On Tuesday, a federal judge denied Cannon et al.‘s request to receive a full salary and a full pension until the court decides the case. LL will have more as this case progresses.