Saturday, August 28, 2010

Jury finds that senior police officials violated District's whistleblower act

Jury finds that senior police officials violated District's whistleblower act
D.C. Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier said the department plans to challenge the verdict.
By Keith L. Alexander
The Washington Post
August 28, 2010

A D.C. Superior Court jury ruled that senior police officials, including Chief Cathy L. Lanier, violated the District's whistleblower act when they suspended a police officer in 2005 after he informed city officials that the department allegedly brokered an illegal deal to provide security for the Gallery Place entertainment area downtown.

The jury ruled Thursday that officer Sean McLaughlin was wrongly suspended after he alerted the mayor's office and the D.C. Council that the department had brokered a deal to make officers available to provide security in the area, after the department had rejected requests by McLaughlin and other officers to supply off-duty security in the same neighborhood.

Citing the District's Whistleblower Protection Act, the jury sided with McLaughlin, saying Lanier wrongly disciplined him. In 2005, the police union and nine officers filed a class-action suit against Lanier and the department, arguing that the officers were wrongfully punished for the disclosure.

Last year, Judge Judith E. Retchin dismissed the claim filed by six of the officers. But the jury found Thursday that the three remaining officers -- McLaughlin, Duane Fowler and Martin Freeman -- had alerted officials of the department's wrongdoing, constituting whistleblowing. In March 2005, Freeman was terminated and McLaughlin and Freeman were suspended...

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