Twenty-three D.C. police officers have been arrested this year on charges ranging from sexual assault to killing a mother and her 1-year-old daughter, a rate of alleged abuse by city cops that one expert places on par with the worst-run city police departments in the country.
The city's police force was on the wrong side of several crime stories in the past week:
> An off-duty D.C. police officer with a history of alcohol problems allegedly was drunk and jumped on the hood of a vehicle and shot at transgendered people inside, striking at least one.
|D.C. police said 23 officers have been arrested in 2011, but were not able to immediately provide their identities and charges. Here are 11 of those charged this year who were written about in The Examiner.|
|• Danny McCullough III, 38, accused of pulling a gun after being thrown out of a bar in Connecticut.|
|• Jennifer L. Green, 28, arrested in sting during what she believed to be a burglary.|
|• Guillermo Ortiz, 31, Silvestre Bonilla, 31, and Dioni Fernandez, 36, were arrested in a sting in March after each purchased electronic equipment they thought was stolen property.|
|• Sean Marenkovic, 32, convicted of having sex with a teenage girl.|
|• Richmond Phillips, 41, was charged with first-degree murder after Wynetta Wright, 20, and her baby daughter were found dead in Prince George's County.|
|• Sgt. Aisha Hackley, 35, accused of embezzling $43,000 from an 85-year-old woman she met during a fraud investigation.|
|• Larry Seay, 37, indicted on nine counts of sexual assault in cases involving three women.|
|• Kenneth Furr, 47, accused of drunkenly shooting at transgendered people.|
> Another District officer was convicted of having sex with a teenager in West Virginia.
> And a D.C. officer was under investigation for lying to protect her boyfriend about witnessing a murder.
There are 3,818 sworn officers in the department. D.C. Police Chief Cathy Lanier said Tuesday that the acts of some of them were "despicable and dishonor the uniform that we wear. "[But] the public should be encouraged by the fact [that] MPD has uncovered some of the misconduct internally, which demonstrates that the Metropolitan Police Department has a culture of integrity," Lanier told The Examiner.
Samuel Walker, a criminal justice professor emeritus at the University of Nebraska who specializes in police accountability, said he was astonished by the sheer numbers of D.C. police officers arrested and the level of criminality.
"This might even exceed New Orleans, probably everybody's candidate for worst police department in the country," Walker said.
The arrests raise questions about the recruiting, the screening, and the disciplinary process, Walker said. Bad conduct appears when there's an absence of accountability and there's a sense that the officers can get away with it, he said.
He found the news particular alarming in light of the fact that the Metropolitan Police Department had enacted a number of reforms after the U.S. Department of Justice investigated allegations police shootings and of excessive use of force.
"That should have taken care of a lot of these things. You have to ask, what has happened?," Walker said.
Lanier said the comparison of the D.C. police department to New Orleans was "ridiculous."
"I am confident that there is not wide-spread corruption across the police department," Lanier said.
Paul Butler, a criminologist at George Washington University and a former federal prosecutor in D.C, said the arrests seem to demonstrate that police and prosecutors are breaking through the so-called thin blue line to change the perception that police officers protect their own.
"Departments are starting to understand that these perceptions matter to keep communities safe," Butler said. "They're sending the message that no one, especially a police officer, is above the law."
At least four of the officers were arrested as part of a departmental campaign to weed out dishonest and corrupt cops. Internal affairs sting operations were set up after warning signs were detected in management reviews, audits, tips or ongoing investigations.
One officer thought she was helping a burglar break-in to a home, police said. Three others kept stolen goods for themselves instead of reporting the discovery of a criminal operation, police said.
Police union chief Kris Baumann had no comment Tuesday.
Butler called the arrest of the police officers a "mixed blessing" from a police department perspetive.
"On one hand, the public is glad to see that the bad apples are being dealt with," Butler said. "On the other hand, you read about case after case, and it's alarming. But on balance, it's better news that cops that are bad actors are being prosecuted."