D.C. police Chief Robert Contee
Metropolitan Police Chief Robert Contee Credit: Darrow Montgomery/File

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Any public relations officials worth their salt know that Fridays are when you drop the bad news. The Friday afternoon news dump, as the practice is known, is meant to bury embarrassing, unflattering, or otherwise dirty deeds of government officials. Readers and viewers, tired from a long work week, might tune out of the news cycle until Monday. By then, Friday is old news.

So it’s notable that the Metropolitan Police Department sent an email last Friday at 4:38 p.m. summoning reporters to an 11th floor conference room at One Judiciary Square for a 5:30 p.m. press conference to discuss “recent misconduct investigations involving MPD members.”

MPD Chief Robert Contee announced that seven cops, including two sergeants, working on the specialized crime suppression team in the Seventh District are under investigation for allegedly allowing people in possession of illegal firearms to walk free. 

Contee said MPD received an unrelated complaint on Sept. 11 about two officers. After a review of body worn camera footage, officials discovered that they had confiscated a firearm but failed to arrest the suspect. Contee said the officers’ report did not match the body camera footage.

Internal affairs agents reviewed an additional three months’ worth of body camera footage and found that five more officers were involved in similar alleged misconduct. All seven officers were put on non-contact status while the investigation continues, Contee said, adding that the 12 or so remaining officers in that particular unit have been reassigned while the investigation continues.

Contee said the ongoing probe, which includes review of the entire department, is solely in the hands of MPD’s Internal Affairs Division, though the U.S. Attorney’s Office, which prosecutes felony crimes in D.C., has been made aware. “We’d be foolish not to check everything that these members have been doing,” Contee said.

It is unusual for MPD to voluntarily release details of an internal investigation, much less one that is incomplete, and Contee emphasized his commitment to transparency with the community. Shortly after the announcement, the Washington Post revealed that its reporters had been sniffing around these allegations for the past week. The Post identified two of the officers named in the Sept. 11 complaint as Iman Samaraay and Abdul Dieng.

Contee, who was flanked by Executive Asst. Chief Ashan Benedict and Asst. Chief Andre Wright, said the extent of the alleged misconduct uncovered so far was contained in the Seventh District. Wright, the former 7D commander, now oversees patrol in the First, Sixth, and Seventh districts. He has been accused in the past of inappropriate relationships with subordinates and drinking on duty.

Contee acknowledged that the officers’ alleged misconduct is a bit puzzling. He said the firearms that officers seized were properly logged into the property book, but “the mystery is why were the people not arrested? That is the issue.”

Chairman of the D.C. Police Union Gregg Pemberton told the Post that officers were simply following Contee’s previous orders to seize guns as evidence even when it’s unclear who specifically possessed the weapon.

“That’s not the way that we train,” Contee said, adding that officers also failed to seek arrest warrants after the initial encounters. “It’s not the way I’ve been trained, and it’s not what we expect of our officers.”

Mitch Ryals (tips? mryals@washingtoncitypaper.com)

  • To see today’s COVID-19 data, visit our coronavirus tracker.
  • DC Health is partnering with Children’s National Hospital to offer free childhood vaccinations at clinics across the city. The clinics will offer immunizations for DTap, polio, Varicella, and MMR. Middle school students and older will also have access to the COVID-19 vaccine. Roughly 25 percent of DCPS students are not fully vaccinated, making them noncompliant with D.C.’s school health policies and unable to return to school. [DCist, DC Health]
  • The CDC published the District’s COVID wastewater data on Friday. The results suggest an incoming uptick in cases for the fall. Boosters, anyone? [Axios, DC.gov
  • Citing unstable soil conditions and a failure for contractors to meet delivery schedules, Metro has pushed the reopening of the six stations south of National Airport to Nov. 5, three weeks past the original date. [WTOP, WMATA]

By City Paper staff (tips? editor@washingtoncitypaper.com)

  • The Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs is no more, formally split into two new agencies as of Saturday to try and tackle persistent issues there. But complaints continue, with Chairman Phil Mendelson blasting Mayor Muriel Bowser for nominating the old head of DCRA, Ernest Chrappah, to take over the new Department of Buildings. [DCist, Post]
  • Teachers and parents at some D.C. Public Schools say they still don’t have working lights or HVAC units two months into the school year. The city has also struggled to make repairs to security cameras at buildings across the District, despite pressure from the Council. [WUSA]
  • Owners of a set of condos in Anacostia are pressing for more help from D.C. officials, as their homes (built using D.C. loan funding and bought via a program for first-time home buyers) continue to crumble with few financial answers in sight. [Post]

By Alex Koma (tips? akoma@washingtoncitypaper.com)

  • You had me at “sushi cave.” Kyojin, a new sushi restaurant from the team behind Arlington’s Yume Sushi, is revamping a former Georgetown lounge. They’re aiming for an early 2023 opening. [Eater]
  • Away with stars. Tom Sietsema paused star ratingings for restaurants during the pandemic. Now, that becomes permanent. [Post Magazine]
  • Fall festivals for foodies—check out this roundup. [Washingtonian]

By City Paper staff (tips? editor@washingtoncitypaper.com)

Credit: Darrow Montgomery

Remembering Joe Bussard

Joe Bussard, the self-proclaimed “king of record collectors” who City Paper first wrote about in […]

  • The arts and humanities “are essential to the well-being, health, vitality, and democracy of our nation…They are the soul of America,” said President Joe Biden as he re-established the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities, an advisory board that was dissolved under Donald Trump in 2017. [NYT]
  • The 2020 protest art that wallpapered the fence outside the White House has been scanned, saved, archived, and published by the DC Library. [DIG DC; Post]
  • A national tour of All Things Equal: The Life & Trials of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a new play by Tony Award winning playwright Rupert Holmes, will stop at the Lincoln Theatre for one night only on March 1; tickets go on sale Friday. [Twitter, Broadway World]

By Sarah Marloff (tips? smarloff@washingtoncitypaper.com)

  • D.C. United lost their final away game of the season to CF Montreal 1-0 with a first-half own goal from Donovan Pines. United will play FC Cincinnati this Sunday at Audi Field. Regardless of the outcome, they will finish as the worst team in MLS this year. [Post]
  • The Commanders’ new all-black jerseys feel appropriate for those mourning the 10-25 loss to the Cowboys on Sunday. Some are now calling for quarterback Carson Wentz to take a seat. [Hogs Haven]
  • Despite his horrific tenure as owner of the Commanders, Dan Snyder continues to make money. Forbes estimates Snyder is worth about $5 billion, up from $2.2 billion in 2019. [Washingtonian, Forbes]

By City Paper staff (tips? editor@washingtoncitypaper.com)

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