Mayor Bowser: “I have every confidence in Chief Lanier”; Members of the DC Police Union: “97.5% answered NO (out of 1,150 that voted); they DO NOT have confidence in the Chief‘s leadership”

by Prince Of Petworth August 31, 2015 at 9:23 am 70 Comments


From the Mayor’s office:

“Today, Mayor Muriel Bowser released the following statement in support of MPD Chief Cathy Lanier:

“After 25 years of policing DC streets, deploying officers and strategies, and building a force of highly qualified officers and leaders, in the good times and the tough times, too, I have every confidence in Chief Lanier.”


From the DC Police Union:

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.”

You can read the full release here: DCPU Press Release (PDF)

  • Jammin Jimmy

    It’s like an election in the middle east

  • Boomer

    What the first “poll” actually says:

    33% of union members responded in the way the leading question on this survey pushed them to
    67% of union members didn’t bother to respond

    • vote

      sounds like the turnout to the recent DC mayoral election (and most other elections).

    • “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?”
      How is that a leading question?

      • HaileUnlikely

        If leading at all, most questionnaire designers would argue that this phrasing was leading in favor of an affirmative response.

        • FridayGirl


        • Boomer

          You can’t detach this question from the context.

          It’s coming from the union in an official message to its members. The union has consistently bashed Lanier in the press and probably does so even more often and vociferously internally. And not only have they trashed Lanier, they have done so on these two issues more than any other – managing resources and safety. The responses are primed not only by internal politics but by the messaging they have used.

          It’s like asking teachers union members in New Jersey, “Do you have full confidence in Governor Christie’s administration to do what’s best for public education and put teachers and students first?” Or subscribers of a tea party mailing list, “Do you trust Hillary Clinton to fight for average Americans?” Of course the people who respond are going to say no.

      • Bargain

        The biggest problem with the phrasing is that it’s a “double-barreled” question. You could have confidence that Lanier is properly managing resources but not keeping citizens safe or vice versa. It should be two separate questions.

        • Accountering

          Meh, if you are properly managing resources, then you are likely keeping citizens safe. Sure, you could parse those statements out, but I had to read it a few times to do those mental gymnastics.

          • Bargain

            So, because homicides are up (citizens are less safe) that means Lanier is not properly managing resources? There is a middle ground. You can agree that Lanier is managing resources properly, but other factors (more guns, synthetic drugs, unreasonably low sentencing, failure to prosecute, etc) are the cause of citizens not being safe.

          • Blithe

            So, how would you answer the question if you thought the resources themselves were inadequate? If I thought, for example, that more officers and/or other resources are needed to keep people safe, but felt that the resources that are available have been well-managed given the current constraints, I would have absolutely no idea how to respond to this question.

    • Harry

      Thank you for providing that key piece of info – as soon as I saw this post I wondered what percentage of the union actually voted.

  • Vin Wrynn

    But why? Do they genuinely think she’s not effective at reducing crime, or do they just dislike her tactics? I would imagine the union is irritated that All Hands has disrupted cops’ scheduled vacation/leave/etc.

    • AG

      The way the question is worded, it could also mean that they feel that there are things beyond her control.

    • kittycatbob

      That’s exactly what I was going to say. It certainly would help to know specifics about the reasoning behind the answer.

    • Anon MPD

      So a few things here. First, AHOD was ruled in violation of the contract over two years ago and Chief Lanier was pretty much like “Don’t care.” http://wjla.com/news/local/mpd-s-all-hands-on-deck-violates-city-contract-judge-rules-91740

      Second, AHOD is just emblematic of the larger issue happening right now. The use of tents, light towers and fixed post details are all window dressing. Yesterday, I got an anonymous call for a person selling drugs with a description. Rolled up, saw the person fitting the description, rolled the window down and asked if he was selling drugs. He said he wasn’t and I told him to enjoy his day and drive off.

      While this may greatly anger the Popville readers, there’s really nothing I can do. I can’t search him for drugs or even a weapon based on an anonymous call. I could park my car there, and he would simply move off. I should say I didn’t think he was dealing. But plainclothes units would be nice. As patrol units, we have been micromanaged to the point of absurdity. Told to park here and don’t move. Then park her with your lights on. Then keep your lights on and not sit in the car. The latest is that we need to always be driving or they will take the car away.

      I’m no genius, but these are not the management tactics of anyone who knows anything about management. And so there is no confidence in Chief Lanier. Not because the raise wasn’t good enough or because she’s not a great cop. It’s that its clear that they have bad ideas and then, when they don’t work, incredibly seem to double down on them.

      • Accountering

        This approach to police work is maddening. I honestly feel badly for you for how much it sounds you have been handcuffed in your job. I wonder how she still has a job at this point – seems like she is good at putting on a face and doing well at press conferences, but it sounds like she has botched her real job, which is public safety.

      • Niagara

        When did MPD discontinue the jump out units and why? Wasn’t the crime rate lower when jump outs were deployed?

        • Anahn

          Ah, yes, jump-out units. The greatest source of “justice” and “innocent until proven guilty” this country has ever seen. Does a lot for building good community partnerships with authority as well. http://thinkprogress.org/justice/2014/12/10/3468340/jump-outs/

          • Anon MPD

            You do know that before the NYPD ruined it, stop and frisk was a legitimate tactic right? It’s simple police work. And jump outs are simply a quicker version of the same.

          • Alan

            Pretty sure “stop and frisk” was de-legitimized by the Supreme Court in Terry v Ohio. Shoot for particularized suspicion over randomly patting down brown people in poor neighborhoods. Constitutional *and* better use of police resources, to boot.

          • dcd

            Please. Terry v. Ohio was, if I recall, decided in the late 1960s. Stop and frisk has been a legitimate tactic long after that decision. (And as an aside, we can argue NYPD’s tactics, but growing up in the 80s and early 90s Times Square was a seedy craphole. Some people may decry its Disneyfication, but it’s undeniably safer now.)

          • tylertenleytown

            Alan, no it was the opposite of that. Terry v. Ohio affirmed stop and frisk as constitutional. As Anon MPD explained, certain departments abused it, and it became more of a stat-driven tool, leading many people to believe that it was a bad policy everywhere. Jump out units doing a stop and frisk are doing the same work that a regular patrol officer would do, it’s just that suspects don’t see jump out units until they’re right there. There still needs to be a reasonable suspicion (not particularized suspicion) of a criminal act, regardless of the type of police involved.

  • AG

    What percentage of officers are in the union?

    • FridayGirl

      I read “less than 1/3” in the news this morning.

      • AG

        I thought the third was that a third of union members responded?

    • JohnH

      There’s 4,000 officers I believe. And 1/3 of the union voted. So 3,000 of the 4,000 are in the union?

  • Resident

    Gee…a push poll on the weekend that the entire force was in an “All Hands On Deck” mode didn’t result in good results for the Chief? Shocker.

  • jcm

    The union has hated Lanier for years, this is nothing new. Supposedly the reason they endorsed Catania is that he agreed to get rid of Lanier.

    • I’m Not a Cop

      Over the last few years – even when homicide rates were extremely low – I think that you could have gotten these kind of numbers in a poll of the union. They’ve been down on her for years. I thought it goes back to her stance on raises and overtime, and tending to side with the last couple Mayors on some of these negotiations rather than the union. I respect the police in this city but I distrust a lot of what I hear from the union because I can never tell when they are honestly critical of tactics or if they are really more critical of pay issues. (Maybe they need more pay – I don’t know – but firing the chief over a pay dispute or other employment issues and calling it about the surge in homicides doesn’t help the city.

      • brookland_rez

        Thanks for the insight.

      • kate

        Well said.

  • MZ

    Not super surprising given Lanier’s thoughtful, data-driven, and introspective response to the recent violence. After the past year, I have zero faith in police unions.

  • districtwanderer

    Did the Zimbabwe Election Commission run this?

  • Resident

    Also worth noting that less than a third of police union members responded to the poll. Given the likely reaction of the union to anyone voting “no” that’s probably a pretty good indication that 2/3rds of the rank and file didn’t agree.

    • Accountering

      I think it is interesting that you find a push poll where 97.5% voted no, and assume that the other 2/3 of people who didn’t vote would have voted yes.
      Much like the republicans claiming that the only reason BO won is because of low turnout. If only more people had showed up to vote, we would be addressing President Romney now! (/Sarcasm)

      • Resident

        Just to be clear…to vote, an officer was required to enter an ID number. This means that the union would know exactly who voted and how they voted. This vote has nothing to do with an actual, fair poll of line officers. I spoke to numerous officers in working on my letters to Chief Lanier and didn’t run across nearly that much opposition to her. The timing of the vote, on an ‘all hands’ weekend should also give you pause.

        There certainly is opposition to the Chief from with the ranks…but this poll is a highly suspect measure of it.

        • Accountering

          I agree this poll isn’t perfect, or possible even good, but to say that the other 2/3 of officers who didn’t vote support her is specious at best.

        • “The timing of the vote, on an ‘all hands’ weekend should also give you pause.”
          I don’t see a date on the vote, where are you reading that it occurred this weekend?

        • Anon MPD

          So the poll was this weekend. I think almost all of the officers would agree with the numbers. To Resident’s point, you did have to put in your CAD number, which is your department ID number. I do think that had a negative impact on turnout because it’s not really anonymous then, but they needed some way to ensure it was only cops voting.

          • Resident

            I am the guy who got into the email exchange with Lanier in the last few weeks. In preparing for that conversation, I spoke with a series of line officers on an anonymous basis. I heard specific complaints but virtually no overall condemnation of her leadership. My experience is about as statistically valid as that poll above.

      • vote

        compare the turnout to broader, longer, ‘campaigned’ elections in DC. the turnout is comparable, but without much of the complaints regarding voter apathy.

  • shmoo

    I fully understand that this is a biased poll and that only 1/3 of the union responded to it, however, when 1/3 of the union responds that they have no confidence in their leader, and crime is way up, we need to start thinking of a leader the entire force can get behind. my 2 cents. The police force isnt a democracy. just because 2/3’s think she is doing fine doesn’t mean she is doing fine. If you worked at a company where 1/3 of the employees did not believe in the leadership, there would be moves to change leadership and start fresh with someone almost everyone can get behind.

  • java

    Keep Kathy!!!

    • Anon MPD

      Deal. Can we get rid of Cathy though?

  • KenyonDweller

    If Chief Lanier announced that the sun rises in the east, the police union would issue a press release strongly disagreeing. Their opposition is so complete that they lack all credibility. As others have said, the question was skewed, but I don’t even assume that they have accurately reported the results.

  • Kingman Park

    She tried to take preemptive measures to avoid being another hotspot for protests but when you implement policies that cater primarily to the criminal element, you see an increase in violent crime.

  • Brett M

    Stop making excuses for Lanier. Poor performance, low officer morale. It’s her time to go.

  • Anonymous

    Regardless of this vote, DC does not feel that safe anymore. Violent crimes, robberies, assaults, sexual assaults…. I don’t care about a union vote of no confidence. I’ve lost confidence. Even on “All Hands on Deck” weekend, we saw one of the most violent weekends this summer. If things don’t change, it’ll cost Bowser and Lanier their jobs.

    • JohnH

      While crime is up, you’re acting like this was fantasyland before this spring/summer. DC has always had a lot of of the crime you mention you suddenly feel unsafe. Is a percentage increase really making you feel THAT much more unsafe?

  • does it matter

    Most officer would like more pay ( who wouldn’t ) The critical issue with Lanier from what I understand was what she said during the contract negotions. That our officers were the same as Rockville and surrounding counties. As one said name any other city in the US that has had anthrax, Ricin, attacks. A plane terrorist attack and an active shooter. Not to mention move the president numerous times a month. Then throw in the demonstrations. The like the new officers but according to her they aren’t staying. So that means the veterans have to help new officers out plus do their own work. As she said the new ones don’t get out and talk to the residents they ride on by. And that is something you can’t teach.

    • anon

      The Chief doesn’t have authority to negotiate pay; that rests with the Administration. The regulations governing setting pay require the Labor Office to look at surrounding jurisdictions. The court agreed that the Administration set them using the appropriate benchmarks as required by the District. Yet the union continues to blame the Chief for this.

  • goaldigger

    The press release mentions that the union has come up with alternative plans and strategies but I didn’t see any real details on what their ideas are, has anyone else seen elsewhere?

  • Kathryn-DC

    Lanier has survived so much from this department — documented sexual harassment as an officer, going through a court case, getting a masters degree, rising through the ranks, dedicated policing. I don’t think the union leadership ever supported her through that, and they declared opposition to her the day she was named chief. So this comes as no big surprise.

  • Thunder

    Wonder who counted the votes.

  • Anonymouse

    What exactly is the police union’s proposal to addressing the crime increase? They say they’ve put forward proposals to respond to the problem, but what exactly are those proposals?

    • madmonk28

      I know one proposal was to reinstate district level vice units. It’s been widely publicized and often discussed on this site.

      • Anonymouse

        That’s the only proposal I’ve seen from the FOP. Reinstate the vice squads. Is that the extent of their entire crime fighting strategy?

  • kgw

    I don’t think there’s anyone else in the country that could do a better job than Chief Lanier. To really put a stop to the shootings you would have to bring in the National Guard, like DC did in the early 90’s or Baltimore did in May. There just aren’t enough officers on every corner to prevent shootings, when a lot of them start with an argument.

    • Brett M

      Really, you don’t think anyone could do a better job increasing crime since 2007 by 7.5-10% or increasing thefts by 40-57% or getting 1/3 of their police force to admit their chief incompetent?

      At least our last police chief helped decrease crime 40%.

      • Anonymouse

        I truly admire the dedication of Brent M. and Brians Ions to posting on every single thread about Cathy Lanier and telling us how awful she is. That’s a whole lot of online surfing.

        • Brett M

          And I truly admire all the lame excuses that the anonymous people of the world post on every single thread about Lanier telling us how great she is. I guess when the statistics don’t go your way it’s time for personal attacks.

          • Anonymouse

            You keep talking about statistics and personal attacks. I do not think you understand what those words mean.

          • Brett M


            I never attacked anyone, including Lanier, personally. It’s all about the crime statistics and her performance. You’re the one personally attacking me. Why not stick to the facts?

  • neighbor

    I think Lanier is asleep at the wheel too and want to see better leadership at MPD.
    That said, there are plenty of people who share this sentiment; there’s no need for a sham poll. This blatant publicity stunt undermines their case because it gives opponents an excuse for doubting the groundswell of opposition to Lanier. It’s almost like DCPU is so used to being in the wrong, that when they are right they still at as if they need to fabricate support for their position. Here’s hoping someone more competent steps up to spearhead this effort.

  • Anon

    While Lanier suggests that the the timing of the poll coincident with this weekend’s AHOD is curious, the timing of the high incidence of violent crimes (including 2 homicides) committed during the same weekend, concerns me more than this poll.

  • Anonymouse

    So based on MPD’s press release, violent crime was down 39% this past weekend during All Hands on Deck when compared to the same weekend last year that didn’t have an AHOD.
    And MPD recovered 34 illegal guns this past weekend, compared to 7 during same weekend last year.

  • Shaw Neighbor

    I spent a good deal of time speaking to the officers at the 6th and O St tent last week. Not only have the vice units been disbanded but ALL plainclothes operations have been completely outlawed. In other words, no more sting operations. No more plainclothes cops anywhere. Additionally, cops are no longer allowed to use the scent of marijuana as probable cause to search someone (even though the marijuana law passed in DC only makes it legal to smoke in one’s home; smoking pot in public spaces is still illegal in DC to the best of my knowledge). Finally, cops are required to use their patrol cars and lights.. pretty much all the time. The result – criminals are no longer afraid of being searched by cops; they’re so easy to avoid. Folks with illegal guns are much more likely to be packing in the absence of any random searches or enforcement. Random fights break out and get settled with bullets. This is the explanation the cops at the tent offered me after I spoke with them and asked a lot of questions. It has face validity and even jives with the Chief and Mayor’s explanation of the uptick in violence – more guns on the street, more petty disagreements as the cause of shootings. The difference is that these officers were able to cogently link the uptick to changes in policing regulations. By the way, the folks I was speaking to were not junior officers, they were veterans and lieutenants. In a nutshell, DC has rather suddenly taken away two of the key tools that police officers were using to deter crime: plainclothes officers and marijuana consumption. We are now seeing the results. By the way, these changes are not things that voters opined on- they are changes in police regulations – and they are big departures from the policing policies during the Grey administration. When we voted yes to Bowser, she said she would keep Cathy Lanier in place, and I support that. What I don’t support is the bate-and-switch: keeping the Chief, but completely changing the policing policies that had led to success. Likewise, when DC voters approved the marijuana law, it was very narrowly restricted to smoking at home. Rather than enforcing that law, the District government has decided to completely stop enforcing all laws with regard to marijuana. This is totally unacceptable and not what voters approved. Someone needs to be the grown-up in the room and come up with a common sense way to enforce the law that was actually passed – and I believe the Mayor needs to show leadership on this front.

    • Anonymouse

      The grounds for searching a person based on cops smelling marijuana was changed when the Council passed the marijuana decriminalization law last year. It was strongly supported by Tommy Wells and David Grosso. So if cops can’t search people out in public just because they smell like weed, make sure to thank your Councilmembers and the ACLU.
      And yes, the voters *did* opine on marijuana when they voted in support of Initiative 71. Remember all that stuff about minorities being disproportionately arrested by the cops for weed smoking? That appealed to everyone’s bleeding hearts about how awful those meanie, racist cops were. And it passed by an enormous margin.
      Heck, the only reason that public smoking of weed wasn’t decriminalized was because Mendo was a buzzkill and said no. Otherwise, Cheeh and Chong (Grosso and Wells) would’ve allowed that as well.

    • Alan

      “In a nutshell, DC has rather suddenly taken away two of the key tools that police officers were using to deter crime: plainclothes officers and marijuana consumption”

      These are also the same tools they were using to randomly harass scores of Black males in the city who had no intention of shooting anyone. If you think having plainclothes cops shake down every Black guy they see smoking weed is the solution to the crime problem, I have a bridge over the Potomac to sell you.


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