Some members of the D.C. Metropolitan Police Department aren’t “furious” about Chief Cathy Lanier keeping her job. “I’m very happy about it,” says one high-ranking police official, who asked for anonymity because members of MPD have been asked not to talk to the media. “I think it’s good, I think we’re going in the right direction.” The official also wasn’t surprised when Mayor-elect Vince Gray announced he’d be keeping Lanier on Thursday. He thinks it’s the strategic thing to do. Things have been going well, and Lanier has only about a year left on her contract, anyway. “I thought from the beginning that he would keep her and say, ‘Let’s see where we are in a year.'”
A lower-ranking cop is angry with Gray for making the move, though. “People aren’t happy, I can tell you that,” the officer says. “Another four years of disaster!” The officer says morale has been at an all-time low under Lanier because of the lack of respect she’s shown the rank and file. “We already have people leaving and they’re leaving en masse,” he claims. “They’re not taking care of these people.” District cops haven’t had a raise in several years.
The officer further insists that Lanier’s claim to fame—low crime stats—will fall apart soon. “The numbers will look good up until Dec. 31,” he says. “It’s all going to self-implode.”
Another officer, who’s not part of the command staff, seems less mad at Lanier than he is at Gray. “Vincent Gray sold the police out,” he says.” The department is at an all time low.” But he also takes issue with the police union, which has fought pitched battles with Lanier for a while now, then endorsed Gray enthusiastically in the primary against Adrian Fenty. “You got to pick and choose your battles,” he says. He says the entire department has lost money because of ongoing litigation between the two. “The rank and file is caught in between, ” he says.
Fraternal Order of Police head Kris Baumann says the union has tried to negotiate with Lanier before to no avail, so they’ve had no choice but to go the legal route. “Our job is to fight for the rights of officers,” he says. “We pick our litigation strategically.”
Photo by Darrow Montgomery