WASHINGTON – A war of words between the D.C. police union and Mayor Vincent Gray’s office has reached a fever pitch following an arbitrator’s ruling on officer wages Monday.
Police officers have not received a raise in six years as the union has been locked in a stalemate with District officials. The police union was hoping for a 3 percent raise each year from fiscal year 2009 through 2013 that would be provided through backpay, along with a 4 percent raise beginning in 2014.
The arbitrator’s decision fell far short of that, instead giving officers only a 4 percent raise for half of 2013, followed by 3 percent raises in 2015, 2016 and 2017.
“Mayor Gray has made it clear that he does not respect law enforcement,” says union Chairman Kristopher Baumann. “He has done a great deal of damage to the relationship the District has with its police officers.”
According to Baumann, the arbitrator’s decision does not even keep up with inflation and will lead to officers leaving the force.
“It’s going to be very, very difficult to keep the best and the brightest,” Baumann says.
Baumann vows to fight the ruling, which still must be approved by the D.C. Council before it becomes final.
Meanwhile, the mayor’s office is firing back.
Spokesman Pedro Ribeiro issued a statement to WTOP calling Baumann’s comments “inflammatory, baseless and irresponsible.” According to Ribeiro, Baumann dragged the arbitration process out needlessly and is “embarrassed” that he “lost.”
“I would hope that the media would view his lame duck comments as the irresponsible sour grapes that they are,” added Ribeiro.
Ribeiro says District officials only wish the raises would have come sooner. However Baumann claims that is a “bald-faced” lie.
Police Chief Cathy Lanier says in a statement to the Associated Press that while she’s glad the officers have a new contract, she’s disappointed it took so long to get there.