City Desk

D.C. Police Chief Speaks Out on “Gym-Gate”

The Examiner reported this morning that Metropolitan Police Department Chief Cathy Lanier and her inner circle will be sweating at a private gym built next to her office. The news would seem to come at a bad time—as in budget-crunch time.

But Lanier e-mailed City Desk today to issue a full-throated denial. The gym, she claims, is for everyone who works at MPD headquarters, not just the top brass.

"I would like to once again correct misstatements in an Examiner article," Lanier writes. "The article alleges that MPD is building a private workout space, in a secure location, to be used by top staff. This story could not be further from the truth."

Lanier says the department is using an existing space that could be used as a "break room, or other purposes" for a communal workout space, and that it wasn't her idea. "This is being done at the request of our MPD members," she says.

She claims having a gym at HQ is nothing new. As a matter of fact, there was one in the exact same space once before: "Many people wanted to bring this back; but, due to tight times we chose not to spend money on this route."  Lanier says the room being used was set up as gym back when Fred Thomas was chief. "All we are doing is putting it back to what it used to be—a place to work out. Minus buying any equipment. "

The chief doesn't say why they've chosen to do all this now. She did say this: "Virtually all police facilities have exercise rooms to allow members the opportunity to stay physically fit. This is a beneficial way to handle the stress that comes with being a police officer." Lanier goes on to suggest the gym will contribute to the "wellness initiative" the department has been working on, which has spawned efforts like the "MPD Biggest Loser" campaign, which she says helped the department collectively shed 1500 pounds.

(City agencies didn't immediately have an answer to the big question about all this: How much did it cost?)

Police union head Kris Baumann says he isn't buying the MPD line. He says there's no way everyone who works at HQ will have access to the gym. "It's in an area where only her and her staff are allowed," Baumann says.

Lanier insists that's not true: "It is secure from the General Public—not persons who work for the PD."

Update:An internal document that appears to show security protocols for the fifth floor of MPD's headquarters refers to there being an area on that floor with a glass door. To get past the door, and the guard posted there, employees must have an ID card. If an MPD officer or employee doesn't have the proper ID, they have to sign in and wait for the office they plan to visit to be contacted, so they can get approved. If the gym MPD is building is behind the glass, that would seem to restrict access to it.

Photo by Darrow Montgomery

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  • Ward One Resident

    My guess would be that Cathy Lanier could cure cancer and Kris Baumann would have a problem with it.

  • Rick Mangus

    I am the biggest budget controling hawk in the world, but to this I say, B.F.D.!

  • Lee

    Ward One Resident, where are you when Baumann was at the City Council supporting the Chief's confirmation, and supporting the Department position with regard to the Secure Communities initiative. Rick Mangus, the big F deal is that they were hiding it and it's not in any budget document for MPD.

  • MPD blows

    The area ia a secure. Trust me when I tell Baumann is correct. Perhaps you need to listen to Baumann. Remember, he works on the inside on MPD. Ward one resident
    you don't. Ward one resident, you are an outsider. You don't know what happens on the inside. The chief could tell you, something that's completely false and you think it's the truth. You know why? Your not on the inside.

  • Rick Mangus

    'Lee', why are you getting you're panties in a twist, you should be bitching about how much money was spent on Happy Feel Good projects like stupid bike lanes and urban art projects, subsidizing so-called artist! Hey folks guess what we are coming-up on the BAG TAX anniversary! How much money was collected and what money was spent and for what, no one seems to want to come-up with answers down at the Wilson Building, not surprising!

  • Rick Mangus

    'Lee', another thing why did you not bitch about the city cutting or eliminating the fees for events like the High Heel Race, Caribbean Festivel, Midgets for Christ, yea we can all celibrate diversity in the poor house!

  • tired

    What comes to mind is she is not the honest person everyone seems to think she is. She arrogant and likes to play get back just like her former boss. Believe me Baumannn knows exactly what he is talking about

  • dcblkwoman

    Lanier needs to stop kissing up and begging Gray to let her keep the job as police chief. She has 5 college degrees (on the department dime) so she should be well equip to find another job. Not to mention she will be making over $160,000 a year if fired from MPD. Or maybe she's not as smart as she wants people to think and will be outted if tried to seek employment elsewhere. Hummmmm.

  • dcblkwoman

    @ Rick.. I totally agree with you on the city limiting those fees on certain events. As we can see now. We need the money no matter how small it might have been.

  • Drez

    Whenever Bauman is the only opposition voice quoted, I automatically am skeptical of what he says.

  • Lee

    Rick Mangus,

    This is about being honest, what you and all the Lanier apologist fail to understand that she is not honest! You make a good point about all the other wasteful spending by the City Council; however, we are not talking about the Council here, we are discussing the police chief.

  • This is Taxpayer Money

    Drez, perhaps you should be asking yourself WHY Baumann is the only opposition voice. Shouldn't the Council be questioning what money is spent also, or are you willing to let the Chief spend money on a private gym without questioning her, when people are losing their jobs and struggling to survive in this economy? I appreciate that someone in this city thinks that public officials ought to be held accountable when they spend money.

  • noodlez






  • drez

    This is just dumb. There is also a gym in the Reeves Center that is "behind locked doors" and requires special access. It has been there has been for many years, and yet is open to rank and file municipal employees.
    There is nothing wrong with the DC Government providing health and wellness facilities to its employees. It is a good thing. Heck, I think we all can recall scandals from years back when MPD officers could not pass basic fitness tests. And since DC taxpayers pay for municipal employee salaries and insurance, it is in DC Taxpayers' interests to help DC employees stay as healthy as possible.
    I agree with noodlez that this is a non-story.

  • Rick Mangus

    'Lee', maybe I don't care because I have been lied to so many time and have become jaded, this is a city of lies, built on lies, by liars!

  • DCCommish

    What a bunch of bullshit this story was! report news not crap!

  • DCDem

    The gym in the Reeves Building is on the first floor and it is locked to anyone who doesn't have a valid District Government ID. The old "club U". That is the limit of restrictions. The door to the gym is in an area that is accessible to the general public. It is not on a higher elevation outside the office of a Director where you need to first go through security to get into the building then pass through another level of security to get to the gym then another stop-gap to get into the gym.

    There is a difference. Bauman is correct.

  • Drez

    The old gym was on the 7th floor. If I recall correctly, access is open to any in DC Gov but must be requested and granted first. I don't think a standard DC Gov ID will by-default permit access. In this there is no difference.

  • DCDem

    There is no difference. There is primarily no area of the Reeves Center where the public does not have access to. Particularly on the 7th floor. Once you are in the building you are in the building employees and public alike. Only the location has changed that makes it even more accessible. The only layer of security you have to go through is to gain access to the building.

    Because there is not always an attendant in the facilty, the door is activated by identification. If ANY employee wants access to it, they just need to fill out a piece of paper saying the want to use the facility and they have access. No guard at the door asking for ID or requiring an escort if you don't have one.

    Bauman was right.

  • BDM

    WE THOUGHT THERE was no money. If there is money KEEP the SUBSTATION OPEN at 27th & Penn Ave, S.E. This will be a service for Ward 7. Find the money!!!!!