Sergeant Matthew Mahl, a gay 12-year veteran with the Metropolitan Police Department and former supervisor of the department’s LGBT Liaison Unit, took office on April 1 as head of the police union.
Mahl’s election by a 2-to-1 margin on Jan. 12 as chairman of the Labor Committee of the Fraternal Order of Police — the official name of the union — was considered an upset victory over the incumbent chairman, Sgt. Delroy Burton.
Mahl and two other candidates who won election to the position of vice chairman and secretary ran on a platform calling for an end to what they considered an overly confrontational posture of the incumbents they defeated toward D.C. Police Chief Cathy Lanier and Mayor Muriel Bowser.
Although Mahl has said he would begin his new role as union chairman with a cordial working relationship with Lanier, he couldn’t immediately be reached to determine how he views the chief’s actions toward the LGBT Liaison Unit that he once led.
Some LGBT activists have expressed concern in recent years that Lanier has downgraded the effectiveness of the LGBT Liaison Unit by reassigning its members to non-LGBT related street patrol duties for as much as half of their daily work shifts. Others familiar with the unit say department officials have indicated Lanier may not replace liaison unit officers who retire or leave through normal attrition, raising the question of whether the unit will be phased out of existence.
Sources familiar with the department say Lanier also has reassigned to street patrol duties members of the other three liaison units for part of their daily shift — the Asian and Pacific Islander, Latino, and Deaf and Hard of Hearing units. The reassignments are said to be due a shortage of officers needed for street patrol duties brought about by a retirement “bubble” throughout the department. The sources say the chief appears not to be replacing most of the officers who leave the other three units as well.
Mahl, who was well liked by the officers working under him at the LGBT Liaison Unit and by members of the LGBT community, has yet to weigh in on recent developments associated with the liaison units.