• DC Police Commander Says She Never Made Officers Collect Pledges For The Mayor

    A police commander in Washington, D.C., claims she never told officers they had to collect signatures for the mayor’s homelessness pledge, but rather encouraged officers to hand out fliers.

    Vendette Parker, commander of the city’s seventh police district, said her goal was to allow officers and members of the community to engage in conversation.

    “At an overtime roll call over the weekend, I instructed the officers to get out of the car and engage with community members,” Parker told The Daily Caller News Foundation in an email. “I handed out three flyers on gun tips, homelessness, and ATV/dirtbike rewards program information they could use as an icebreaker. I asked the officers to make an effort to engage more citizens during their shift, instead of remaining in the patrol car.”

    Original reports indicated that Parker set a quota of five signatures per officer on the mayor’s pledge, but Parker said that wasn’t true.

    Parker said she simply told officers that if they handed out five of each of the fliers, they would have engaged with 15 different community members during their shifts.

    “No one was directed to obtain any signatures,” she said. “A recurring complaint we get is that officers are always sitting in the car. My goal was to get the officers out of the cars and engaging with the community.”

    Gregg Pemberton, a spokesman for the DC Police Union, though, told TheDCNF he’s spoken to many officers who say the commander did give them a quota.

    “The officers we have spoken with were clearly given a quota of signatures to obtain, but I’m not surprised the command staff has once again resorted to lying about their own misconduct,” he said. “Either way, it is still a violation of the Hatch Act and hopefully it’s properly investigated.”

    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.

    Police Chief Cathy Lanier, however, dismissed the claims made by police union members.

    “In my opinion, this is just another distraction by the union from our crime fighting mission,” she told TheDCNF in an email.

    Sean Conboy, a spokesman for the Metropolitan Police Department, told TheDCNF he could neither confirm or deny that the matter is being investigated, though NBC Washington reports that the commander is under investigation.

    Michael Czin, a spokesman for Mayor Muriel Bowser, told TheDCNF no one from the mayor’s office requested officers collect pledges.

    The pledge is part of a push by Bowser to fight the homelessness epidemic currently facing the city.

    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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