NEWS: ‘This City Needs Cops And It Needs A Lot More Of Them,’ DC Police Union Chairman Says After RNC Riots
Police officers in Washington, D.C. have worked long shifts without days off and sustained injuries while responding to protests over the last week in the district, the head of the DC Police Union told the Daily Caller News Foundation. DC Police Union Chairman Greggory Pemberton said that protesters around the country should be arrested and prosecuted if they are found responsible for crimes. He added that the demand protests put on the department leaves neighborhoods vulnerable since officers who would be stationed there are being pulled to address the riots. “Over this past week beginning with the [Republican National Convention], demonstrators and rioters have once again proved the opposite of their agenda. This city needs cops and it needs a lot more of them. The department has suspended our schedules and suspended days off; many members are working 18 plus hours straight,” Pemberton told the DCNF. “The demand to have hundreds of police officers downtown to address these riots takes officers out of our most vulnerable neighborhoods, which delays the service we provide to citizens,” Pemberton added.
When the city authorized a "hazard pay" stipend in April, the DC Police Union notified MPD that the stipend needed to be included in each member's hourly rate in order to properly calculate thier overtime rate. This calculation is required under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). Initally, MPD agreed to include the calculation, but later recanted and is refusing to provide the correct compensation. Now, each member who has worked overtime during the period of emergency has not received the correct amount in their hourly overtime rate. The DC Police Union is now pursuing a lawsuit to recover damages resulting from the District of Columbia’s unlawful failure to include hazard pay in the calculation of the overtime rate. This lawsuit aims to compensate each member in the amount they should have received. The Union is seeking to get you the money that you earned.
Listen to Chairman Pemberton speak with Mary and Vince on WMAL’s Mornings on the Mall about protests, riots, and issues facing DC police.
NEWS: D.C. Police Union seeks court injunction to stop release of body-worn camera footage, officers’ identity following fatal interactions
The union’s lawsuit is seeking a decision by Saturday. No hearing date has been scheduled. But Judge William Jackson, union officials said, has been assigned to oversee the petition. In the filing by the D.C. Fraternal Order of Police, its chairman, Gregg Pemberton, cited a June 8 letter written by Michael R. Sherwin, acting U.S. Attorney for the District, to the D.C. Council. In the letter, Sherwin objected to the city’s move to release the body camera footage, saying it could identify witnesses and hamper any criminal investigation. Sherwin also disagreed with the city’s decision to identify the officers involved in a deadly, on-duty incident. He argued that police do not identify suspects in a case unless they are charged and that police officers should be given the same courtesy.
The union representing D.C. police officers sued the District in federal court on Wednesday, challenging a new law that makes it easier for the police chief to discipline and fire officers by cutting out the role of the labor group. In its suit, the union said the District unfairly created a “distinct class” of government employees and called it discriminatory to strip the officers’ labor representatives of the ability to help shape the disciplinary process, as is afforded to nearly all other District workers. “At a time when true leadership is needed most, it is unfortunate that we find ourselves having to challenge our elected District leaders for violating the constitutional rights of our first responders,” said Greggory Pemberton, the chairman of the police union.
The D.C. Council approved emergency legislation earlier in the month to limit use of force by police, release body camera footage more quickly and limit the role of the police union in the police disciplinary process. The council voted to prohibit D.C. police from using tear gas, pepper spray, rubber bullets or stun grenades to disperse a crowd. Former ANC Commissioner and community activist Kathy Henderson said defunding the police could cause a spike in violent crime. "We rely on the police to protect us," Henderson said. The police union urged the council to approve MPD's budget and said that "the idea that our department is systemically racist in a way that manifests itself in brutality and civil rights violations is preposterous. The MPD has been at the forefront of police reform for 20 years. Problems that exist in other cities do not exist here."
After days of heated debate, the D.C. Council passed a budget slashing $15 million from the Metropolitan Police Department despite Mayor Muriel Bowser’s objections. The budget adds millions of dollars for social service programs. The budget does not add funds Bowser requested for the popular MPD Police Cadet Corps program. Some of the funds that were cut will fund violence interruptors who work in communities with at-risk youth. In downtown D.C. on Tuesday, opponents of the police budget cuts warned the move could drive crime higher, reduce staffing and hit the District’s budget hard. “Everything is being rushed through the city council on an emergency basis, which doesn’t allow for public hearings. It doesn’t allow for government testimony. It doesn’t allow for expert witnesses and it certainly doesn’t allow the robust discussion that’s required,” said Gregg Pemberton of the D.C. Police Union.
Chairman Pemberton appears on Fox & Friends in the Morning of Fox News
The District’s police force has come under major scrutiny during the last few months. In response to the local protests after George Floyd’s death, the D.C. Council passed emergency police reform legislation that, among other things, makes neck restraints a felony and bans using rubber bullets and teargas to disperse peaceful crowds. The Council also cut $9.6 million from the mayor’s proposed police budget increase. Many officers do not agree with these steps towards police reform. According to an internal survey from the D.C. Police Union, 71% of officers are considering leaving the Metropolitan Police Department because of the police reform bill, and 39% are considering leaving law enforcement altogether. How does D.C.’s police union respond to the emergency legislation? And what does police reform look like to MPD officers? We sit down with the chairman of D.C.’s Police Union, Greggory Pemberton, to talk about police reform and changes that need to be made.
A survey conducted this week by the D.C. Police Union shows 71 percent of respondents said they were thinking of leaving the force. The eye opening response coming as officers grappled with the idea of changing the very way they police the city.