A decision by D.C. Police Chief Cathy Lanier to deploy members of the department’s Gay and Lesbian Liaison Unit to street patrol duties under an existing patrol support initiative could hinder the unit’s ability to serve the LGBT community, sources familiar with the department said.
In an order issued on Aug. 26, which was sent by email to every police officer, Lanier expanded the scope of the department’s 13-year-old Patrol Support Team Initiative (PSTI), requiring most detectives, supervisors and officers not currently performing street patrol duties to undertake such duties for one week each month.
Lanier revised the order a few days after releasing it following strong objections raised by the police union, which said removing detectives from their regular cases for one week each month would seriously hinder their ability to investigate serious crimes such as robberies and assaults.
The chief’s first version exempted homicide detectives and detectives investigating sex crimes from having to perform street patrol duties. The revised version provides a means for other detectives and officers to seek an exemption from the PSTI program.
Sources familiar with the department said GLLU members were puzzled over why they were suddenly included in the PSTI program. According to the sources, the GLLU has long been considered a patrol unit, with all of its current five officers and one sergeant regularly performing street patrol duties in parts of the city where LGBT people live and gather.
One of the sources said that removing GLLU officers from their regular patrol duties to perform other patrol duties under the PSTI program would likely result in no coverage for the GLLU during certain nighttime shifts.
Meanwhile, in a related development, the sources said GLLU members were stunned when they discovered the first version of the Aug. 26 emailed order announcing the PSTI changes misspelled GLLU Officer Justin Markiewicz’s first name as “Justine.”
The initial version of the order was quickly rescinded and replaced by a new email, or teletype, as the message is called, using Markiewicz’s correct first name of Justin.
But the sources noted that the version with the misspelled name came just a few weeks after GLLU Sgt. Matthew Mahl filed an Internal Affairs Division complaint against Capt. Edward Delgado, accusing him of allegedly repeatedly addressing Markiewicz in person and in email messages as “Justine.”
The Blade obtained copies of at least four of the email messages in which Delgado referred to Markiewicz as Justine. The Blade on Wednesday obtained a copy of the first version of the Aug. 26 redeployment order with the name “Justine” appearing on it.
Delgado is commander of the department’s Special Liaison Division, which has jurisdiction over the GLLU and the other special units, including the Latino Liaison Unit, the Asian and Pacific Islander Liaison Unit, and the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Liaison Unit.
Police spokesperson Gwendolyn Crump said the complaint was being investigated by the Internal Affairs Division and neither she nor any member of the police department could comment further on the pending investigation.
Crump attributed the latest misspelling episode of Markiewicz’s name in the Aug. 26 police email about changes in patrol duties to a typographical error.
“There were more than 900 names on the list,” she said. “We didn’t check to see that this specific officer’s name was correctly spelled. This typographical error was made by someone who had no knowledge of the Internal Affairs matter.”
Crump told the Blade earlier in the week that similar to previous times when GLLU officers have been redeployed to new street patrol assignments, the GLLU officers could still respond to a GLLU-related call for service while assigned to PSTI duties. She said GLLU members will be assigned to PSTI duties on a six-week cycle.
“Every six weeks, one member of the GLLU will be assigned to work PSTI,” she said in an email message. “This means that there will be five other members still available who will handle the normal day to day operation of the GLLU.”
One of the sources familiar with the department, who spoke on condition of not being identified, said GLLU members carry additional duties in addition to street patrols, such as attending LGBT-related meetings and events and serving as trainers on LGBT-related issues at the police academy.
The source said removing a GLLU officer from his or her regular patrol duties one week each month could result in fewer than the number of officers needed to perform GLLU-related duties for a full 24-hour work shift.