As the city has reached the tragic number of 105 homicides before the end of August, which matches the total number of killings in 2014, the membership of the DC Police Union has become increasingly frustrated. Wave after wave of widespread violence has shaken this city and time after time, our officers have been told to stand fast. We’ve been told that the status quo is working and we’ve been forced into a corner of lackluster, feckless, inefficient enforcement and been required to stand by and watch while the leaders of the department doubled-down on their stop-gap, gimmicky tactics.
We have pleaded with the leadership to stop sacrificing the safety of our communities for what amounts to political correctness. We came with ideas and plans that could be implemented immediately. We outlined the problems with current strategies and highlighted why they were failing. We were willing to compromise on every issue for the sake of being able to do anything more than the current unproductive deployment. We were told that we shouldn’t have any input; we were told we were wrong; we were even told that we “are just resistant to change”.
We continue to be inundated with support from the community. Calls, emails, social media, blog posts, and personal interaction at community meetings, all supporting our efforts to bring an end to the rampant gun violence in the city, are an everyday occurrence.
Because of the disappointment of our members and of the community, combined with the dismissive response from the leadership, we decided to quantify our frustrations through research.
Two very important polls were conducted. The first was an internal referendum of the 3,600+ members of the DC Police Union. The question posed to them was about their confidence regarding the leadership of the department. This referendum was conducted independently by The Merriman River Group—an election/polling company with a stellar record of integrity and accuracy. The second poll was an independent survey of DC registered voters conducted by LJR Custom Strategies—a national public opinion firm. It was completed to gain an understanding of how the citizens of the District feel about the current direction of public safety in the city.
Here are the results of our research:
Members of the DC Police Union were asked the following question:
“Do you have confidence that Chief Cathy Lanier is able to properly manage the resources of the Metropolitan Police Department and keep the citizens safe?”
The members had the choice of answering YES or NO.
1,150 members responded to the poll and 1,122 answered NO, they do not have confidence in Chief Lanier’s ability to manage MPD and keep the citizens of the District safe.
That’s an overwhelming 97.5% that answered NO; they DO NOT have confidence in the Chief’s leadership.
What Does This Vote Mean?
The DC Police Union has been frustrated with the leadership of MPD for years. Failure to negotiate contracts in good faith, no cost of living increases, unreasonable scheduling disruptions, cancelled and banned vacation time, bad faith bargaining, heavy handed and capricious discipline, disingenuous reporting of statistics and data, impotent and ineffective policing strategies, disbanding of the most effective units, gimmicky deployment, toxic management, a skyrocketing attrition rate, and an inability to fundamentally keep our neighborhoods, our citizens and our officers safe have all contributed to the fact that our members have lost confidence in the leadership of the Chief. This ‘No Confidence’ vote is a symbolic gesture of our member’s long-building desire for a new direction in policing in the District.
Hopefully our research will open a productive discussion about the future of public safety in our city and in the Nation’s Capitol.
Additional Survey of Registered Voters
As stated before, a survey of DC registered voters was also conducted by LJR Custom Strategies. The results were as follows:
District residents were asked about their feelings regarding Chief Lanier.
As we expected, Chief Lanier still enjoys a generally positive approval rating of 60%. However, that is down 24% from her 84% approval rating in March of 2011 in a poll conducted by Clarus Research Group, and down 15% from the NBC/Washington Post poll conducted in September of 2014. We believe her high approval rating in 2011 was based on the fact that there was sufficient manpower to do community policing, but her numbers are steadily dwindling due to the fact that MPD’s hemorrhaging manpower has mitigated her ability to successfully maintain proactive policing and a supportive community approach. The DC Police Union has, for months, been clamoring for permission to patrol and proactively police our neighborhoods, only to be denied and given even more fixed posts, light towers and foot beats, which have all hampered our response time and hamstrung our officers by taking away the tactical advantage of active patrol. In fact, the Chief has repeatedly doubled-down on these tactics in recent months in a misguided and ineffective attempt to address the rise in violence.
The residents were given a list of issues facing the District and asked to name the one that concerned them the most.
46% of respondents stated that CRIME was their top concern. When asked to select the issue that was their second biggest concern, 31% named DRUGS as the one trailing CRIME.
Another question posed to the residents was this:
“On a scale of 1-10, with 1 being not concerned and 10 being highly concerned, how concerned are you about crime in DC?”
49% of the respondents answered a 10 (the number 1 answer).
“Using that same scale, thinking back to last summer, how concerned were you about crime in DC back then?”’
Only 31% answered a 10, and more importantly, the number one answer was a low concern (responses between 1-6). From last year to now, the citizen’s concerns about crime have risen nearly 20% and it’s gone from the lowest level of concern to the highest.
The DC Police Union believes that the concern for public safety and how to deal with crime is not only a priority for our members, but for the citizens and the leadership alike. The District of Columbia is an incredible city and it has the capability and the resources to be the pinnacle of policing, with cutting edge equipment, highly trained officers, and policy at the forefront of the industry. Let’s not get caught up in politics and political correctness. We believe that the time for public relations policing and spin zone crime statistics should be over. Real common sense solutions based on research and evidence should be the focus of our government and our community.
Posted August 31 2015 at 9:37 AM by DC Police Union Executive Committee | Permanent Link