My name is Jimmy White and I am the Secretary for the Fraternal Order of Police, Metropolitan Police Labor Committee (DC Police Union). I am writing to you concerning an article written by your Contributor, Jeffrey Anderson, and published by your paper this morning (July 1, 2016) at 8:23 A.M.
Having recently been elected to the position of Secretary for the DC Police Union, I was excited for the privilege to work hand-in-hand with the various major media outlets. Together we could have promoted and defended our Union’s membership. The media is a strong and very valuable tool that our Union could have used to disseminate our members’ message to the city, if not the whole country. This article, however, sought to undermine these potentials.
As I began to read, I thought nothing of this scathing article under the belief that “you can’t please everybody.” This article, however, goes a step further than mere criticism and treads into the realm of libel. I will highlight five separate instances where Mr. Anderson reported false information that could be construed as damaging.
First, Mr. Anderson wrote, “...Mahl, whose salary is paid by the FOP while he is on full release from active duty.” This statement is false. Chairman Mahl’s annual salary, as well as the Chairmen who served before him, is paid by the Metropolitan Police Department. All elected Chairmen are entitled to a monthly stipend per our Union’s by-laws. There may have been some confusion on Mr. Anderson’s part regarding the difference between a salary and a stipend. He did not cite a source for this statement. Therefore, a reasonable reader would believe the statement is his alone.
Second, Mr. Anderson wrote that “...the union had already purchased for his use a brand new Dodge Charger, fully equipped for police emergencies, at a cost of roughly $40,000.” This is not entirely false, but inaccurate. The amount budgeted by the previous Union administration for the purchase of a new vehicle was $40,000. The Chairman purchased the new Dodge Charger for less than what was budgeted. Additionally, the proceeds from the sale of the old vehicle were credited to the budgeted portion for the new vehicle. The new Dodge Charger was not “purchased… fully equipped for police emergencies.” In fact, Chairman Mahl purchased and supplied his own emergency equipment for the new vehicle. The actions of the Chairman saved the membership thousands below what was previously budgeted for the new vehicle.
Third, Mr. Anderson further reports that “Members derided him (Mahl) and White for appearing at a Union meeting in uniform as if ‘they’re one with management,’ and shouted their disapproval until the two walked out to applause.” These events did not occur as described, and are false. In fact, the end of this sentence makes a very strong case for libel. It is true that Chairman Mahl, myself, Vice Chairman Stephen Bigelow, and Executive Steward Russell Mullins were all in full uniform while we attended the Union meeting. This is a point Chairman Mahl ran on during his campaign. He stated to the membership (all seven districts and the various specialized units, including those members who attended the Union meeting) that his team are still the police and are representative of their constituency.
The uniform topic was passionate at times. However, neither Chairman Mahl nor I were “shouted” out of the meeting “to applause.” This is the aforementioned statement I referenced in the preceding paragraph. The truth is that after the conclusion of the reported discussion regarding the uniforms, the Union meeting continued to its conclusion with the entire Executive Committee in attendance - including Chairman Mahl and I. After the conclusion of the meeting, both Chairman Mahl and I spoke with the separate groups of attendees and shook hands while thanking members for attending. There was no instance at any point where Chairman Mahl, nor I, “walked out to applause.” I am concerned that Mr Anderson’s source (assuming there was one, because none was cited), for this portion of his article is either not familiar with the laws defining libel or is apathetic toward its potential legal ramifications on your contributor or your publication.
Fourth, Mr Anderson writes, “When Mahl took over, he announced he would suspend class grievances and dial back on formal protests.” Chairman Mahl has never “announced” that he would “suspend class grievances,” nor did he state that he would “dial back on formal protests.” He did campaign (and was elected) on his initiatives to clean up the backlog of our Union’s grievance and arbitration actions, including conciliation efforts with the Department. With that, no conciliation effort can be achieved without the input from the effected members. Ultimately, no matter how amicable our relationship is with the Department, our Union will fight our members’ battles that need to be fought. This is another example of libelous statements intended (or so it appears) to damage the reputation of Chairman Mahl. I – again - do not see a source so I must believe this statement is coming from Mr. Anderson.
Fifth and finally, Mr. Anderson writes, “She (Chief Lanier) recently began to issue Executive Orders without going through the bargaining process….” Again, not true. The “Executive Orders” referenced above are discussed, negotiated, and edited at the regular weekly bargaining meetings attended by both the Union leadership (Chairman Mahl) and the Department leadership (Chief Lanier).
I am at a loss for any more words regarding this article. In the future, I know Chairman Mahl would welcome all opportunities to contribute to any relevant article important to your readership. These contributions, hopefully, can be attained in an environment commensurate with the decorum both of our professions deserve. As opposed to a barrage of questions whose answers can be taken out of context.
Thank you for your attention. I look forward to your response.
DC Police Union
Posted July 01 2016 at 7:08 PM by Jimmy White | Permanent Link