DC Taxpayers Are Spending Millions To Rehire Bad Cops

from the Metro-PD-casting-public’s-pearls-before-swine dept

Late last year, a trove of records was obtained by transparency activists Distributed Denial of Secret (DDoS). Those records showed what the Washington DC Metro PD hoped to hide: that the internal disciplinary process was apparently irreparably broken.

The joint report by DCist and The Reveal made sense of the DDoS-liberated data. What it showed was that officers with sustained complaints were often given nothing more than tiny hand slaps (suspensions, write-ups) for severe misconduct, including drunk driving, indecent exposure, sexual solicitation, and theft.

Welcome to Impunityville, USA. Not only were Metro PD officers assured they wouldn’t face criminal charges for criminal acts, they were assured they wouldn’t even need to worry where their next paycheck would come from.

Now there’s more bad news. Every so often, the DC Metro PD actually finds officers worth firing. A report from the DC auditor shows taxpayers are shelling out millions to keep the worst of the PD’s officers on the job, as Mitch Ryals reports for the Washington City Paper.

The full scope of this problem and what it has cost D.C. taxpayers, is detailed in an explosive report released this week from D.C. Auditor Kathy Patterson.

From October 2015 to March 2021, the Office of the D.C. Auditor found that MPD fired 49 officers and was forced to rehire 37 officers. The department paid out $14.3 million in back wages to 36 of those officers after their appeals crawled toward a resolution.

Three of the reinstated officers have been determined by the Auditor’s office to be a “threat to safety.” One of those is Jay Hong, who collided with another vehicle while drunk. In his vehicle, investigators found one (1) loaded handgun and one (1) unconscious, partially-nude woman. Hong pleaded guilty to DUI charges and was fired. The woman later accused Hong of sexual assault, but PD investigators cleared Hong of these accusations. Hong re-secured his job through a third-party arbitrator who suggested a 35-day suspension was a more appropriate punishment for driving drunk with a loaded gun and a loaded woman in his car. He received nearly $300,000 in back pay.

He’s not the only fully employed “threat to safety.” There are more:

The other two officers tagged as safety threats, who are still employed with MPD, are Wilberto Flores and Richard Mazloom, according to ODCA.

Flores was convicted in a criminal court of exposing his genitals to women in the parking lot of a grocery store in 2010, according to the report, which cites information from MPD and the Office of Employee Appeals. 

[…]

Mazloom was the subject of three complaints submitted to the Office of Police Complaints before he went out drinking with friends while off duty and with his service weapon on him in August of 2011…

That night, Mazloom got into a fight on H Street NE, the auditor’s report says. He was later fired, but an arbitrator overturned his termination, in part because they “thought the evidence showed Mazloom was not the aggressor and the other party instigated the fight.”

Both officers were reinstated, taking home more than a half-million in back pay between the two of them. Officer Mazloom has since racked up two more complaints and one sustained instance of misconduct.

According to the City Paper report, nearly 40% of these reinstatements are due to the Metro PD missing administrative deadlines in the disciplinary process. This either means the Metro PD has so many bad cops it can’t keep up with the paperwork or it’s more than willing to slow walk investigations to ensure officers it actually decides to fire can get their jobs back. Neither alternative should be considered acceptable.

This happens frequently enough that even other MPD officers are getting sick of it. Statements made to the Auditor’s office during the preparation of this report show many officers are “demoralized” by the rehiring of bad cops and fully cognizant of the fact that overturned firings emboldens the worst officers in their ranks.

The Auditor’s report closes by recommending the Metro PD (duh) start meeting administrative deadlines to help assure bad cops can’t get their jobs back on a technicality. But the city seems powerless to actually enforce this, which means the PD can pick and choose which officers it will efficiently discipline. And that means taxpayers will still keep paying good money for cops even the Metro PD feels are too terrible to stay employed.

Filed Under: dc metro police, dc police

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