D.C. police union chief Kristopher Baumann has had a tough time getting through dinner of late. Just last Wednesday, members of a news outlet Baumann declines to name called him six times as he tried to scoop his vittles. If it’s not reporters coming at him, it’s residents: “I tried to buy a soda at the store, and I got caught for twenty minutes.” Each time Baumann is asked to give up the vital information he’s being pestered about, he tells the truth—he has no idea what the future holds for Metropolitan Police Department Chief Cathy Lanier.
Though Baumann has started asking people to stop asking him about Lanier, that doesn’t stop folks from passing plenty of rumors along to him.
Today, for example, he was told by some “political” sources that the chief would be resigning at a 12:00 p.m. press conference. Just in case you’re wondering… that didn’t happen. Asked about the scuttlebutt, Lt. Nicholas Breul of MPD says he hasn’t heard anything about Lanier “leaving anytime soon.”
But that kind of sounds like another rumor, and as many times as Baumann has heard Lanier is on her way out, he’s heard that incoming mayor, Vincent Gray, has decided to ask the popular police chief to stay on.
If that happens, even though Baumann and Lanier have butted heads on many occasions, the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) head is prepared to deal with it. “If he decides to keep her, we will proceed accordingly,” Baumann says.
Another rumor that’s been flung Baumann’s way is that the chief and mayor-elect are conducting “secret meetings” about whether she should stay. Baumann doesn’t put much stock in the gossip: “There’s no way to track that down.” But it would kind of make sense.
The departure of nationally adored and locally criticized schools chancellor Michelle Rhee in the wake of Gray’s primary victory likely has those who have been wondering about Lanier on pins and needles now that the general election is over. The Washington Post says business interest will pressure Gray to keep the chief, but Gray also owes a debt to the FOP for supporting his candidacy. (The rank and file officers that make up that organization are said not to think very highly of Lanier. They haven’t gotten a raise since she started her post, after all)
A few secret meetings might help Gray to find the best way out of his dilemma. Also, it might be a good idea for him to figure out if Lanier actually wants the job. Cops say Lanier’s position means grueling hours and lots of stress, and as City Desk previously reported, Lanier has an extremely sweet retirement package that kicks in the moment she’s either fired or decides to walk.
In that case, as a spry 43-year-old retiree, Lanier would pull down a salary that exceeds $100,000 a year plus benefits. Which doesn’t sound like a bad situation—and might even inspire her to tell Gray to look elsewhere.