NAACP task force writes Chief Lanier on new MPD command team
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NAACP task force writes Chief Lanier on new MPD command team

Text of letter to Chief Lanier

From:Rick Rosendall
Sent:Monday, October 01, 2007 2:03 PM
To:GLAA Members
Subject:NAACP task force writes Chief Lanier on new MPD command team


GLAA has participated for more than ten years on the NAACP-DC Metropolitan Police and Criminal Justice Review Task Force. In addition to Mark Thompson (who is now a Baptist minister, and whose ordination I attended earlier this year), who leads the task force on behalf of the D.C. Branch of the NAACP, active participants include Steve Block, a staff attorney for ACLU of the National Capital Area; Ron Hampton, executive director of the National Black Police Association; and myself on behalf of GLAA.

The task force has been a crucial civil liberties coalition here in the District. It played a key role in the creation of the independent Police Complaints Board (currently chaired by our friend and colleague Kurt Vorndran), and supported ACLU/NCA in its effort to pass the police demonstrations bill that former Councilmember Kathy Patterson pushed through in the aftermath of the wholesale civil liberties violations in Pershing Park that occurred in September 2002. The Council chair's signing ceremony for that bill was held in January 2005:

We in GLAA are proud of our work as an active partner in this coalition.

The letter below from Rev. Thompson to Police Chief Cathy Lanier raises concerns about her recently announced reorganization of the Metropolitan Police Department. GLAA and ACLU/NCA both took part in drafting the letter. As you may discern from its tone, we are seeking not a throw-down with the Chief but a collaborative relationship that will secure everyone's stake in building a police force that is both effective and responsive to the full diversity of our city's people. In the long run, that will make everyone safer.


Rick Rosendall
VP for Political Affairs
Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance

NAACP letter to Police Chief Cathy Lanier

From:NAACP Police Task Force
Sent:Mon, 1 Oct 2007 13:29:35 -0400
Subject:MPD Leadership

Cathy Lanier, Chief
D.C. Metropolitan Police Department
300 Indiana Avenue NW, 5th Floor
Washington, DC 20001

Dear Chief Lanier:

Hope you're well. I am writing this letter on behalf of the NAACP Metropolitan Police and Criminal Justice Task Force and its members, most of whom are also members of the Biased Policing Task Force.

The September 26th issue of the *Washington Post* reported your statement in response to community concerns that you have not treated whites and African Americans equally in reshuffling the department and assembling your new command team. You are quoted as saying: "I want people to get the full picture and not focus on the wrong things."

In setting the record straight, you explained that while you did demote three veteran black assistant chiefs, you had previously demoted three veteran white assistant chiefs. You further noted that there are 14 inspectors of whom six are black and 16 commanders of whom 10 are black. You emphasized that of the seven patrol districts, four are headed by black officials.

The government and in particular the law enforcement agency of a city as diverse as ours is impeded in its relations with the people it serves if its leaders and officers do not reflect that diversity. The people in the most at-risk communities in Washington will have greater trust in -- and will therefore be more likely to cooperate with -- a police force to which they feel a connection and which they feel understands their concerns.

Your explanation to the *Post* indicates that you agree that it is legitimate for District residents to be concerned about the racial composition of the senior command of their police department. For that reason, we are puzzled that you did not inform the Biased Policing Task Force of your plans when it met with you on September 17th and did not take that opportunity to share the explanations you later provided the *Post*.

At that meeting, you talked about public relations. We urge you to take advantage of the Biased Policing Task Force as a forum to raise issues such as the restructuring of the department's senior command when there are significant issues of diversity. We hope that you will take a more collaborative approach than the rollout of the recent changes appears to demonstrate.

We would welcome the opportunity to meet with you to discuss how we might work better together in the future.


The Rev. Mark A. Thompson
NAACP Metropolitan Police & Criminal Justice Review Task Force

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