The internal affairs division of the Metropolitan Police Department is investigating a police commander after she forced officers under her command to collect signatures for the mayor’s pledge to end homelessness.
Vendette Parker, commander of the city’s seventh police district, told officers that they needed to collect at least five signatures each from residents while on patrol, Mark Seagraves of NBC Washington reports.
Officials with the D.C. Police Union told The Daily Caller News Foundation that using officers to collect signatures for the mayor was a severe misuse of resources and could have possibly violated federal law.
“It’s alarming that the commander of the Seventh District, an area that has a 100 percent increase in homicides this year, would think it was acceptable to squander the time of its police officers by ordering them to solicit signatures for a political agenda,” Gregg Pemberton, a spokesman for the union, said. “If that wasn’t enough, she gave them a quota of five signatures to obtain.”
The Hatch Act of 1939 is a federal law that forbids federal and District of Columbia employees from engaging in political activity, which Pemberton believes was the case with Parker. Specifically, it forbids government employees from engaging in political activity while on duty or wearing an official uniform.
“What’s even more concerning is that someone in a position of such high command would be so clueless about federal regulations and the Hatch Act,” Pemberton said. “The obvious question is what else doesn’t she know? I’m not sure this is the person that should be in charge of the most violent district in the city.”
The entire city is in the midst of a crime wave unseen in almost a decade, but no part of D.C. has seen an increase in murders like the seventh police district, which encompasses most of Southeast D.C. across the Anacostia River.(RELATED: DC Police Union Says Mayor Is Lying About Crime Stats)
Murders in the district have nearly doubled over the same time last year. So far in 2015, 35 people have been killed in the area, compared to just 19 at the same time last year.
Across the entire city, murders are up close to 50 percent over the same time last year. At this time in 2014, there were just 74 murders, while this year there have already been 109 — more than all of last year.
Pemberton said the union heard from officers in other districts that they, too, were told to collect signatures for the mayor, but could not confirm if they actually had. It appeared, according to Pemberton, that the directive may have come from higher up than the district commander.
Michael Czin, a spokesman for Mayor Muriel Bowser, told TheDCNF no one from the mayor’s office requested officers collect pledges.
Requests for comment from an MPD spokeswoman and Commander Parker were not immediately returned.
Bowser announced the initiative to end homelessness last week and promised there will be no homeless people in the city by 2020.
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