D.C.'s police chief defended her signature crime fighting strategy Tuesday in the face of consistent criticism from the police union, which continues to label it illegal.
Police Chief Cathy Lanier called last weekend’s All Hands on Deck a success with crime dropping 27 percent when compared to the same time last year.
The chief says the citizens love it and it costs nothing in overtime, but the union says the chief is violating labor law and the city will eventually have to pay.
The number one goal of All Hands on Deck, according to Lanier, is to drive down violent crime and prevent homicides.
Every officer in the department is expected to work and the weekends are chosen by crime analysts who track the trends.
"We anticipated this was going to be a violent weekend based on our analysis," said Lanier. “That’s why we set All Hands on Deck. So, All Hands on Deck ran from 3 p.m. Friday to 3 a.m. Sunday, and during that time, we had three homicides. Two of those homicides took place inside of a home. All Hands on Deck will have no impact on crimes that occur inside of the home. The one committed outside, there was an arrest within hours.”
On WTOP’s Ask The Chief program, Lanier said crime dropped by 27 percent, and historically, there hasn't been an All Hands on Deck where crime hasn't dropped double digits.
However, it is still controversial with officers who like to say the chief's initiative is unfair and breaks the law.
"If anybody can point to any law that I am breaking, I would be happy to explain it, but there is no law," she said. "The rulings are all public record. You can pull those records and see we have not been told to not have All Hands on Deck.”
It is a challenge accepted by union president Delroy Burton, who said, "D.C. Code 612 governs the basic work week for all District government employees. When they split people’s days off, so you have a day off that’s supposed to be Sunday and Monday, they give you the day off of Monday and Thursday -- that violates the law. Simply not abiding by an agreement that the law allows the two parties to negotiate, when you don’t abide by the agreement, you are violating the law. So she can act as if she doesn't know these things. She knows these things, but it appears she doesn't care, except when she wins.”
Burton says the union has been fighting All Hands on Deck since its inception and they have won several significant rulings from an arbitrator and a D.C. Superior Court judge.
"It’s possible that by the time we have litigated and settled every AHOD that Chief Lanier has done, it will cost significant amounts of money and she will be long gone and the damage will be done,” Burton said.
It has been a standoff and a fight between the chief and the union since 2007 and there is no end in sight. All Hands on Deck is already on the schedule for several other weekends extending into the fall.
When All Hands on Deck first began, there was a big public relations push by the chief and then-D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty to get the word out. Officers would be saturating D.C. neighborhoods.
And although Chief Lanier said she thought it was a good idea, the All Hands on Deck news conferences came to an end when Fenty left and current Mayor Vincent Gray took office.
WTTG FOX 5 & myfoxdc
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