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Lanier to D.C. Council: Too many fired officers returning to work

Wednesday - 7/2/2014, 5:22am  ET

Cathy Lanier (WTOP/Alicia Lozano)
Cathy Lanier during Tuesday's "Ask The Chief" program on WTOP. (WTOP/Alicia Lozano)

WASHINGTON - D.C. Police Chief Cathy Lanier says dozens of her police officers are not fit for the job.

She is expected to testify Wednesday before a D.C. Council committee in support of a bill that would repeal a 90-day statute of limitations for discipline against D.C. police officers and firefighters.

"[I am] asking that the council repeal that 90-day rule for police and fire to allow us to really move to terminate or discipline officers involved in misconduct. Sometimes it's criminal," Lanier said on WTOP's "Ask the Chief" program Tuesday.

The 90-day window begins when the department "knew or should have known of the act or occurrence allegedly constituting cause" for termination or discipline.

"That ambiguity has caused literally dozens and dozens of fired police officers to get their jobs back," Lanier says.

"We have some extremely egregious cases where we've had terminated employees who've been involved in criminal conduct, that an arbitrator has overturned a decision and ordered us to rehire that employee," she adds.

The police union has said that the 90-day limit has helped speed up disciplinary cases that used to drag on for years, and that all officers should get due process.

A bill to repeal the 90-day limit has been introduced twice before, most recently in 2012. That bill did not make it out of committee.

"As long as I'm the chief, I'm going to keep bringing it up. Because every time I have to rehire an employee that wouldn't even meet the hiring standards, and then they get in additional trouble, it's me that's holding the bag," Lanier says. "I want to make it clear that I don't want these employees on the police department and I'm going to do everything I can to make sure they're not here."

The department is under a cloud after several veteran officers were accused of felonies over the past year that range from child sex abuse and prostitution to attempted murder.

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