D.C. cops union seeks deal with ethics board

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Local,DC,Alan Blinder,Jack Evans,Muriel Bowser

The D.C. Police Union is trying to strike a deal with the District's ethics board that would give police officers additional protections and rights if they come under scrutiny from the new panel.

"You do have employees who are members of bargaining units, and different rules apply to them than apply to managers," said Kristopher Baumann, the union's chairman. "Under the law, there are statutory rights that union employees have when it involves potential discipline."

The D.C. Board of Ethics and Government Accountability is considering the proposed agreement, which would allow police officers to request union representation during interviews and hearings. The deal would also set out a special process for officers to contest the panel's decisions.

Stacie Pittell, the board's general counsel, said Baumann was trying to "give his union members the same rights, should they come before us, as they would have if they came before internal affairs under the collective bargaining agreement."

The three-member ethics panel has so far appeared skeptical of the proposal, which The Washington Examiner obtained under the Freedom of Information Act.

"I don't understand why we would want to enter into a memorandum of understanding, period," said Deborah Lathen.

Board Chairman Robert Spagnoletti raised concerns about the potential "collateral consequences" of reaching a deal, but he said he would consider the proposal.

"It's worth listening to," Spagnoletti said. "We'll obviously be thoughtful moving forward."

But Baumann warned that the board could face lawsuits if it fails to reach an accord with the union.

"At the end of the day, they can work within the framework of the law or they can litigate," said Baumann. "The law is out there. We can either agree to do it this way or we can move into litigation."

Ward 4 Councilwoman Muriel Bowser, the author of the law that created the board, said she hoped a deal wouldn't undermine the District's ethics guidelines.

"The expectation of the public is that all District employees are being held to a high standard," Bowser said. "I think our intent is that the standard of conduct will apply to all District employees."

Ward 2 Councilman Jack Evans said he would support crafting agreements to avoid trouble with the city's powerful public sector unions.

"I would think it would be something that if we're going to give it to one group, everyone should get it," Evans said. "If the police can make a good argument why they deserve it, they ought to get it."

ablinder@washingtonexaminer.com

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Alan Blinder

Staff Reporter, D.C. City Hall
The Washington Examiner