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The No. 1 complaint of most D.C. Police officers isn’t about stupid residents. Or even false alarms. Or, for that matter, thugs.
The rank and file, rather, love to bitch about their bosses. They’ve never made any real arrests. They’re messing around with my days off. They don’t let me do my job.
And that’s where it usually ends. The grunts mutter something under their breath, always off the record, and go about their business.
Yet on Dec. 28 the old cop-vs.-white-shirt tension went a bit beyond its usual confines. Inside the D.C. Police Department’s Special Operations Division (SOD), it exploded into threats of violence.
According to police records, Officer Steven Hebron had made the mistake of questioning why Captain Burt Henry had taken overtime assignments. Hebron allegedly believed Henry’s use of overtime was unnecessary. The allegation did not sit well with Henry.
Henry spent a lot of time on Dec. 28 hunting down Hebron. Whoever was in his path got an earful. Marvin Spriggs was ready to leave the office on an assignment when Henry yelled for him to stop what he was doing and listen to his rant.
“As I walked over to him it was clear that he was upset by the look on his face,” Spriggs wrote in his witness statement. “At this time, he pointed his finger toward me and stated, ‘Tell your motherfucking boy to keep my name out of his mouth.'”
Spriggs stated that he then asked Henry which officer he was talking about. Henry replied: “That bitch Hebron! I’m going to fuck him up. I’m going to get him….Where is he?” Spriggs told the captain that Hebron was inside. “Capt. Henry then stormed inside looking for officer Hebron.”
Hebron, in his own statement to police, stated that a fellow officer informed him that Henry was looking for him. He left the roll call room and entered the locker room, where he spotted Henry and another officer sitting on a couch. Henry then confronted the officer.
“Captain Henry stated, ‘Listen motherfucker, what is this I been hearing about you telling people that I been cornering the market on overtime?’ He then said that he would fuck me up and that this conversation is not the captain officer conversation, but a man to man conversation. He told me to consider myself lucky and that the next time it will be a captain to officer conversation….The captain was pointing with his finger in my face within close proximity, gesturing as if he wanted to fight me. I asked the captain to please stop talking to me in that tone. However he continued to move in my direction and follow me around the locker room.”
The other officer, Louis Guerra, cut off Henry’s rant. Guerra made his own formal statement to police officials. His statement confirms Hebron’s testimony: “At one point Captain Henry called Officer Hebron a ‘mother-fucker’ and also said, ‘I will fuck you up.'”
Guerra goes on to state:
“I got up off the couch and told the captain that he was out of line, and that he couldn’t just turn his rank on and off like a light switch. I also told him that his demeanor did not represent his rank of the Metropolitan Police Department and that he should leave the locker room. After that he kept rambling on like a mad man and saying something like he did the best he could but that people did not appreciate him around here. He acted as if he was going thru some kind of break-down.”
Although the incident is under investigation, Henry remains on duty. The investigation is being conducted by Henry’s boss within SOD.
The police union has lobbied police officials that Henry should be removed from SOD and be required to undergo a psych review. “I have no comments,” Henry tells City Desk when asked about the incident.
“If this were you, and I pulled up on the scene, you would be arrested. This should be a criminal investigation,” says one officer in SOD.
The police union had e-mailed one police official, Alfred Durham, several times concerning the incident. Durham told the union that Henry would not be sent for a psych evaluation. “If that was any police officer, he would be sent to a clinic ASAP,” says the SOD officer.
Henry is currently in charge of the department’s SWAT team.
“It’s stunning that the department would leave him in that position,” says union chief Kristopher Baumann. “It’s certainly cause for alarm both for police officers and the citizens of the District of Columbia.”
*photo by Darrow Montgomery.