© 2022 KMUW
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations

The D.C. police force and the cops it couldn’t fire

DC Police Chief Robert Contee.
DC Police Chief Robert Contee.

The D.C. Metropolitan Police Department is one of the largest in the country. It employs roughly 3,400 officers. Like any other law enforcement agency, it has a disciplinary process.

Internal records show that MPD’s Disciplinary Review Division sought to terminate at least 24 officers currently on the force for criminal misconduct from 2009 to 2019. Cases include one officer who indecently exposed himself to a woman outside a grocery store. Another responded to a call for service after drinking a pint of vodka. Also, a cop who punched two women at a Hooters and seven others who likely committed domestic assault.

In all but three of those cases, the records show, the Adverse Action Panel blocked the terminations and instead issued much lighter punishments – an average of a 29-day suspension without pay.

These officers amassed disciplinary records for domestic violence, DUIs, indecent exposure, sexual solicitation, stalking, and more. In several instances, they fled the scenes of their crimes.

The disciplinary files, obtained by “Reveal” from The Center for Investigative Reporting and WAMU/DCist, provide insight into how police officers avoid accountability and remain on the force, even after the department’s own internal affairs investigators have determined they committed crimes. The records have never before been made public. Neither MPD Police Chief Robert Contee nor the department would comment on Reveal and WAMU/DCist’s findings.

Jenny Gathright is a reporter for WAMU. Dhruv Mehrotra is an investigative reporter for Reveal.

This story is a collaboration with Reveal from the Center for Investigative Reporting.

Copyright 2021 WAMU 88.5