Loose Lips

Police Union Boss Kris Baumann Won’t Run Again

Kris Baumann, FOP

Here's a New Year's gift for Mayor Vince Gray and Metropolitan Police Department Chief Cathy Lanier. After eight years leading the Fraternal Order of Police, union chairman Kris Baumann says he won't run for re-election to his position later this year.

As union head, Baumann has scrapped with the police brass and two mayoral administrations over everything from the All Hands on Deck initiative to the botched firings of cops. He pushed Freedom of Information Act requests in court fights and became a go-to media quote-meister, weighing in on everything from a private gym for police management to police escorts for the likes of Charlie Sheen.

"In the face of two open hostile mayoral administrations and the biggest economic downturn of our lifetimes, we have not only persevered—we have grown stronger," Baumann wrote in an email today to union members.

Baumann will stop running the FOP, which he calls the District's "most formidable union," in April. He says he's comfortable leaving the top job now that the union's years-long contract fight with the city is heading to arbitration.

Under Baumann, the FOP was a constant problem for the Adrian Fenty administration, and it eventually endorsed Fenty rival Vince Gray in the 2010 mayor's race. Lately, though, Baumann has pushed back against Gray's legacy, writing that his former pick is "despised throughout the city."

"The disappointment residents feel about Gray and his administration is the same disappointment we feel," Baumann says.

Baumann's email to the union:

Last Monday, I announced that I would not be seeking re-election as the chairman of the D.C. Police Union. Since that time I have received numerous questions from fellow officers about why I was not running for office, and seeking my thoughts on the direction of the D.C. Police Union and the Metropolitan Police Department. I wanted to take some time to answer some of those questions, but more importantly, to thank you for your support over the past ten years.
I have had the privilege of representing you for the past eight years as chairman of the D.C. Police Union, and for two years before that as chief shop steward of the Seventh District. For your support, your kind words, and your loyalty, I thank you. It has been an honor.

Part of responsible leadership is to foster new leaders, and to ensure a succession plan is in place. Right now the D.C. Police Union has a team of truly remarkable leaders that will ensure the continued success of this organization. Delroy Burton, Wendell Cunningham, Mary Bonaccorsy, and most members of the Executive Council are the most competent, professional, and dedicated leadership team that any union could ask for. As long as they are in charge, the D.C. Police Union will remain the most powerful and respected union in the District.

As a result, it is time for me to step away. For those of you who know me, you know that I never planned on being involved with the union. I returned to law enforcement to be a police officer, and working as a patrol officer in the Seventh District was rewarding and one of my favorite times professionally. But for those of you who were not with the Department back in 2003, it is hard to understand that as bad as the conditions and morale are now, it was worse then. Police officials were entirely unaccountable, and the union was able to offer little assistance. After being asked to help some very good police officers who were being targeted by officials for personal reasons, I could not in good conscience stand by while the careers of honest police officers were destroyed by unethical officials, nor could I stand by, as a police officer, while corruption and malfeasance went unaddressed throughout this Department and the District government. As a result, I became involved with the union, and won an election to chief shop steward of the Seventh District.

Two years later, I ran for chairman on a platform of professionalism, anti-corruption, accountability for government officials, and zero tolerance for dirty cops. And then something wonderful happened: not only was I elected, but two other individuals, Wendell Cunningham and Delroy Burton were elected on the same platform. Wendell, Delroy, and I have been re-elected on the same platform of ethics and professionalism three times. As you have often heard me say in the media, nothing has made me prouder. It is one thing to have a few officers openly reject corruption, malfeasance, and demand transparency and professionalism from a police department – it is quite another to have the rank-and-file membership repeatedly make it clear that they will not tolerate corruption.

Over the past eight years, the D.C. Police Union has been transformed. For those of you that were here a decade ago, you may remember that the union had virtually no media presence (we had to pay for an ad in the Washington Post just to present our side of an issue), no history of litigating tough issues, and little or no influence with community groups or the D.C. Council.

Now we are the most formidable union in the District. In the face of two open hostile mayoral administrations and the biggest economic downturn of our lifetimes, we have not only persevered – we have grown stronger. While other unions have been decimated or simply disappeared; while other city employees have been laid off or furloughed; while other city employees have had their retirement benefits taken from them; while union after union has seen its members’ pay cut or had to give back raises – we have held fast.

How big has the change been? You need only look at our recent record with regard to influencing legislation in the District. The gains we have made are extraordinary. In the past three years, we have pushed back two attacks on our retirement, successfully protected our health benefits on two occasions, reversed legislation that would have destroyed our use-or-lose leave system, and, last month, had legislation introduced that would provide us future cost of living adjustments and retroactive pay to compensate for the past six years. That type of legislative record would have been unimaginable ten years ago.

The gains have come across the board. On the litigation front, we have built teams of litigators that have won in every possible venue. Our history of litigation and arbitration victories is unprecedented, and has helped shine a light on the unethical behavior of the District. Our reputation and relationship with residents and community groups has gone from nonexistent to our union leaders being invited to speak on a regular basis, and community members volunteering to testify on our behalf in front of the Council. Internally, with the help of Mary Bonaccorsy and Delroy Burton, we have built rigid financial controls and procedures, and we have come in under budget for eight years in a row. Our audits are the envy of any organization.

How did we come so far? Your support and our professional union leadership are the main reasons. We have proven that we do have rights, and that if we stand strong and remain patient, we will triumph. The changes in the leadership of the Executive Council have been a big part of our success. Sporadic and acrimonious meetings have been replaced by professional monthly meetings where the business of the union and the welfare of our members is the focus. The amount and quality of the work being done by the chief shop stewards is impressive. The current Executive Council contains some of the best leaders I have worked with and I am indebted to them for all of their hard work on behalf of the members.

In addition, communicating our rights and our positions has been the key to many of our successes. In fact, one of the most important roles of a chairman and other leadership positions is to understand how the law works, how the union works, and to understand the processes that are involved. We are often called upon to serve as expert witnesses in arbitrations and trials, testify before the D.C. Council, speak before the media, or handle negotiations with the District. An effective union leader must be able to communicate and explain the law and our contract both orally and in writing.

This is one of the reasons I am comfortable stepping away at this point. Not only do you have a terrific Executive Council, you also have leaders that have proven themselves when it comes to understanding and communicating the positions of the union. Delroy Burton and Wendell Cunningham have become experts in how the union works, and have proven time and again that they are excellent witnesses and communicators. The number and type of cases they have won on our behalf is remarkable. We do not just win our cases because the law is on our side. We prevail because we have skilled litigators and expert witnesses that have the ability to explain our positions. And as long as the union has responsible leadership, I will remain a resource for the union.

Finally, our long-term negotiating and litigation strategies have been put into place and have proven effective. The contract process and several important litigation issues are now largely completed. After six years of carefully protecting our rights and placing us in the best possible position to prevail in arbitration, we have now submitted the decision on our contract to an arbitrator. Whether we prevail or not, the record will reflect the care and professionalism that we took in addressing the contract and I am confident that you will be supportive of our positions (and appalled at the positions of the Department and District). Other litigation matters such as All Hands on Deck, court overtime, information requests, retaliation, and pay issues have been resolved in our favor and now it is mostly a matter of wading through the endless appeals by the District.

And so, with the other leaders on the Executive Council supporting Delroy, Wendell, and Mary – I leave this union in excellent hands. We are lucky to have this type of leadership, and I look forward to being able to go back to work as a police officer with the knowledge that they are protecting all of our interests. Again, thank you for your support. I look forward to seeing you out there.

Photo by Darrow Montgomery

  • name

    While I don't like his style and I'm not sure he had anything to do with the changes, MPD is light years more responsive and responsible than they ever were before. I personally see the charges against dirty cops from the 90's as a very positive step and it seems like the city is winning many of the cases against them. I disagree with SCOTUS on AHOD and I think AHOD did a lot of good for the morale of the city and the view of MPD, even as it ticked off a lot of cops (Lack of overtime pay) and angered a lot of low life residents.

    I'd love to see a book written about his view of the city, how it changed, and why. I won't necessarily agree with the conclusions, but the observations should be interesting.

  • DCShadyBoots

    Is that Cathy Lanier I see dancing in the streets?

  • S.E.

    Well.......this will give him more time to take his Meds

  • noodlez

    ALL HANDS ON DECK DID MORE BAD THAN GOOD!
    THAT SHIT WAS THE PRECURSOR TO STOP AND FRISK.
    I'M SURE ONE OF WEINERSNICHELS WASHCITY PAPER LOCATOR MAPS WOULD PROVIDE THE DATA THAT SHOWS THERE WERE LITTLE TO NO ARRESTS WEST OF 16TH STREET!

    UNLAWFUL ARRESTS, RUINING FOLKS LIVES OVER LOW LEVEL GUILTY PLEAS, LOG JAMMING THE OVERBURDENED JUSTICE SYSTEM ALONG WITH DC JAIL WAS BORDERLINE CRIMINAL AND TO USE INFLATED ARREST STATS TO SHOW YOU ARE FIGHTING CRIME IS AKIN TO WHAT STOCK BROKERS WERE DOING THAT LED TO THE CRASH IN 2009.

    LOW LIFE RESIDENTS HAVE RIGHTS ALSO AND WHO THE POLICE GO TO FIND OUT THE LATEST 411 IN ANY HOOD YOU DUMB SHIT.

  • Typical DC BS

    Sorry noodlez, I don't see many folks west of 16th Street shooting each other over dumb things (like eyeballin, disrespecting, turf beefs, etc.), slinging rock or weed on the corners or running around high on PCP.

    Or are you also railing against the folks who call MPD to report these lovely city vignettes? I believe they are called "snitches" east of 16th Street, rather than "law abiding citizens"?

  • drez

    Agree with Name.
    noodlez AHOD was not a precurser to stop and frisk. That was already here, under the guise of sobriety and other checkpoints that were set up in various neighborhoods known to have active drug markets or high rates of violence. AHOD was seperate.

  • HUAlum71

    Don't woke 'em, Noodlez, let 'em slept.
    Affluent people have more 'low life' type problems than the 'low life' type people. They also have the where-with-all to do their dirt undercover. They run through the drug markets, pick up their stuff, and roll on back to the Gold Coast, Georgetown, Tenley Town, the Palisades, Spring Valley, Maryland, Virginia and all of the other 'high (both literally and figuratively speaking) life' hoods. Heck!! Some of the more industrious nervy ones set up shop in their garages or basements so wifey or mommy and/or daddy won't know what is going on. They don't get caught because the cops and the US Attorneys don't bust those people for their drug use. When they are caught, they get a slap on the wrist if they even get to court.

    ALL OF YOU BACKSLIDERS KNOW WHO YOU ARE. SOME OF YOU EVEN SIT ON THE BENCHES IN DC SUPERIOR/DISTRICT COURTS.
    THE 3RD RANKING DUDE IN THE ELIOT RICHARDSON DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE MAY BE GETTING OUT OF JAIL ABOUT NOW FOR HIS PART IN A REALLY BIG COCAINE BUST IN THE DAY. THAT IS IF HE WAS EVER REALLY PUT IN THE SLAMMER AFTER HE WAS FOUND GUILTY.

    I could go on and on with examples but I don't want some of the peeps I'm talking about to know who is putting their bidness in da street. BUT YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE AND SO DO I, DON'T WE?????

  • drez

    16th was the line, like, 20 years ago.
    Not sure that line exists anymore.
    The city is much more integrated.

  • noodlez

    @ THE DOWNTOWNIAN-DID U JUST GET BACK FROM COLORADO???
    SLIM ALL HANDS FOCUSED ON POSS OF OPEN CONTAINER CHARGES, MISD DRUG ARRESTS AND BULLSHIT DRUMMED UP CHARGES SO ALL OFFICERS ON DUTY CAN SHOW AN ARREST DURING THEIR SHIFT.

    SURE THEY PULLED SOME GUNS OFF THE STREET BUT THE PROGRAM WAS NOT COST EFFECTIVE NOR DID IT PROVIDE THE NECESSARY BRIDGE BETWEEN THE POLICE AND NEIGHBORHOOD TO ACTUALLY WORK TOGETHER TO PREVENT CRIMES.

    THOSE SOBRIETY CHECKPOINTS WERE EXACTLY WHAT THEY WERE. YOU ARE MAKING EXCUSES FOR A FLAWED PROGRAM THAT WAS STARTED UNDER THE FLENTY ADMIN! THAT LOCKED UP BLACK FOLK IN DISPROPORTIONATE NUMBERS. THE DRUG USE WEST OF 16TH STREET IS NO LESS THAN THE THE DRUG USE EAST OF THE RIVER. THE ARRESTS MAKE IT SEEM SO!

    @TYP-LAST I CHECKED BLACK FOLK DO ACTUALLY CALL THE POLICE. WE DO IT FOR REAL CRIMES NOT THE BULLSHIT SOMEONE IN BURLEITH WOULD CALL FOR! THIS DOESN'T AND SHOULDN'T DICTATE A POLICE STATE. PROBABLE CAUSE FOR AN ACTUAL CRIME SHOULD DICTATE AN ARREST NOT SOMEONE'S SKIN COLOR AND FORM OF DRESS.

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  • http://urbanplacesandspaces.blogspot.com Richard Layman

    On grand jury duty 1Q last year, most of our cases came from the Columbia Heights area, Georgia Avenue corridor, in Ward 5, the east end of Capitol Hill, and Wards 7 and 8.

    I can't claim that was a random sample, and our jury was assigned drug and gun cases primarily, but we also dealt with assaults, murders, and robberies.

    2. It is interesting, name's point about Baumann and a book. Whenever we would get calls asking for donations to the FOP, I would always say something to the nature that I mostly didn't agree with the positions expressed by Baumann on policing issues and therefore couldn't in good conscience donate.

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  • Wife of an Officer

    Some of you ppl kill me. First off my husband is one of the best cops and has not gotten a raise in 7yrs. But is expected to jump in front of a bullet for ppl who dont give a rats ass about him. Second, I am from DC and its a whole lot of dirty ppl in all professions cops are no different. You ppl kill me you want police to be present but you dont want to pay them. Im glad Im not a cop because I wouldnt do a damn thing for none of you.

  • StephL

    Richard Layman - If you disagree with most of Baumann's positions, what is it that you agree with?

    Baumann has been a consistent force in this city against corruption, against city officials doing shady things without transparency, against Chief Lanier padding her own salary while not giving any raises to the rank and file. He has stood for tougher requirements to build a better police force, and you never hear him defending dirty cops. I wonder what you stand for, if you are against Baumann's positions.

  • http://urbanplacesandspaces.blogspot.com Richard Layman

    Most of the quotes in the newspaper seemed to be focused on bashing management, creating strife, not about working to lower crime. That being said, I too am not in favor of corruption and am in favor of more transparency.

    It never helped that Harry Jaffe was such a sycophant for police officers in his writings.

    http://urbanplacesandspaces.blogspot.com/2011/05/police-need-plan-too.html

    http://urbanplacesandspaces.blogspot.com/2012/07/dc-police-chief-makes-cover-of.html

    http://urbanplacesandspaces.blogspot.com/2013/02/dc-already-has-most-police-per-capita.html

  • in the know

    @ Wife of an Officer: Thank you for supporting your husband while he serves in a difficult and dangerous job.

    but please, lets keep to the facts -

    Raises: DC cops (and Fire Dept employees) have received raises (step increments) for every year since 2008 that the individual employee was eligible for a raise. This is UNLIKE all other DC Govt employees (and I am one). Regular employees did not get steps some years and have had to wait extra years to get theirs.

    what you are really talking about are COLA's: it is true that cops (and FEMS) employees have not received COLA's since 2009 while the union and the city argue over the contract. However, most other employees also did not get COLAs for those years, especially the non-union employees which didnt get ANY.

    According to Baumann, the union has the gumption to demand back pay for all cola's going back to 2009 they didnt get (and which no other employees got, either) and now they have convinced some councilmember to introduce a law to give them just that if they dont win the arbitration. By the way, NO other police department in the area got step increments for all those years. And NO other department in the area got COLAs for all those years, either.

    Dont want to pay Cops: DC Police pay ranges are among the very highest in the entire region EVEN though they have not had any increases to the pay ranges (i.e. receiving COLAs).

    Thank you, again, for supporting your husband while he has volunteered to serve and protect us from the crap of society the rest of us dont want to know about. And earns an excellent salary compared to other cops.

  • StephL

    I think you would have a different impression of Baumann if you heard him speak in person instead of only seeing what the reporters quote. The media probably quotes him most when he says things they consider controversial. He has some very interesting takes on how to fight crime and improve things in the city's toughest neighborhoods where he worked on the street - it is too bad that does not get reported more.

  • YouCantBeSerious

    DC police do not have the highest pay in the region. Mayor Gray has screwed police and fire for many years now. DC is losing trained people to other jurisdictions all the time.

  • two-oh-two

    A few years ago, I (a citizen) had ocassion to e-mail and talk to Baumann years ago about a concern, and he did not impress me as the adversarial individual the press has made him out to be. I received a no-nonsense and thoughtful response, and he followed-up.

  • in the know

    at least you didnt call me shirley, roger... :)

    but yes, I am serious. I did not say they have "the highest". I said they are "among the very highest." In fact, they do have the highest starting pay.

    I agree, we absolutely do lose officers all the time, sometimes even to other local jurisdictions. But its not due to pay. Most separations are retirements who then join another department to earn another pension. Of the ones who leave before retirement for another jurisdiction its to the 'burbs where management is significantly better, way more professional and supportive, and the work not so crappy. Still fewer leave for the feds where they have to do even less work. But most who leave prior to retirement do so because of family changes or relocations. Again, its not because the pay is so bad..

  • SadtoSee

    You say you are a DC employee but rather than standing together with those who risk their lives in their jobs (police and fire) you would rather complain that they shouldn't get something you don't have.

    Your words say you support police and respect the service of the officer's wife, but your post complaining about who got what and who didn't, and your attempts to minimize pay as a motivator in recruitment and retention, show otherwise. Thanks also for the respect shown to federal officers, who according to you, do "even less work."

    Hope you are proud of this post when you ever need to call 911.

  • For the cops and fireman

    "In The Know,"...DC Police should get colas and step increases faster than non essential employees. The city economy is much better off than surrounding jurisdictions because of crime reduction. This city has had better financial my as opposed to surrounding jurisdictions and as such should pay for the essential personal who help secure that. I'm not demeaning other government jobs but when it comes to "essential personal"...that's cops and firefighters. They're is no liberal leave for them when all he'll break lose or when snow touch the ground.

  • drez

    Lots of regular government employees are "essential personnel" and must also report.
    Police and firefighters (and emt's and teachers and etc) are mythologized to an unhealthy and unfair degree in this country. Like any other group, there are excellent ones and there are bad ones.
    This is stupid and stupidly-common election year pandering.

  • in the know

    nowhere in my posts did I complain. I do support them, daily, in many ways - thats my job. And I like doing it.

    @SAD - If you are LEO or a FF, I sure hope you are proud of owning up to the fact that you ration (or imply rationing) what service you provide based on whom you are providing it to.

    But Drez is exactly right about the mythologizing. I am just pointing out the facts that others are unaware of or deliberately choose to ignore or misrepresent.

    I wasnt minimizing pay as a factor of recruitment or retention. I was pointing out that the FACTS show it is less of a factor for MPD than some people represent.

    Although they have lower starting pay than DC, many surrounding jurisdictions have much higher competition for fewer openings than does MPD. Thats fact and proves that MPD's issues are not about primarily about pay.

    I didnt say the fed LEO's dont do important and dangerous work. The fed LEO's do less (Cap Police, Park, FBI, IRS, NIH Police, etc). But more accurately, I should have said they deal with even less (actually and rarely very little) of the awful human behavior that MPD officers deal with on a daily basis.

  • Native

    Some of these post are incomprehensible. So i won't attempt to understand the people sitting behind their desks writing them. To be clear MPD has NOT has a raise in more than 6 years. I'll bet you remember what you spent your xmas or non-performance bonus on? Bet you didn't give it back. Let's be real and have a knowlege based conversation. Since you think that LE and first responders are "mythologized" use your voice. Don't talk about it be about it! Gather all of your like-minded friends across the country to saddle up and get to work, cause it going be a long day! Don't forget to leave your mentors and your prodigies some help because they WILL need it. THEN, Let EVERY first responder take off for three days. The first day you wil think you're a hero and a new sheriff has come to town. Day Two when EVERYBODY really figures out there are NO professionals out there; you will cry for your mentors guidance and PRAY! YES!!! I said 'Pray' for your prodigies lives. You will then find a cave or hole to crawl into and by DAY 3, if you survive, you thank EVERY first responder. who BY THE WAY, do what they were born to do! They show up a day early and leave late to help your dumb azz. You think it is YOU, who makes your life worth living. I know otherwise! So really, who is mythologizing who? You give yourselves way too much credit. First responders! You have a right to be fairly compensated and to live life like the rest of these 'mythologized' (-"First responder your not worth crap until I need you") -keyboard typing figurines. They know not of YOU, nor what you do for ALL of US. I say thank you for helping me.

  • JimA

    Kris Baumann did a great job. Thank you, Kris.

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