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DC firefighter who recently graduated from cadet program arrested on felony theft charge.

DC Ellerbe & Rubin

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A little background on this story. The DC Fire & EMS Department high school cadet program was shut down during the administration of Chief Dennis Rubin. In this book DC Fire (read review of book), Chief Rubin said he took this very controversial action because of concerns about background checks and screening of candidates and a high number of criminal incidents associated with the program. The program was reinstated when Chief Kenneth Ellerbe took over the department.

Jay Korff, WJLA-TV/ABC 7:

According to sources, a D.C. firefighter straight out of the academy was arrested on theft charges.

Sources say Clarence Jones, 19, worked only a handful of shifts at Engine 26 in Northeast Washington prior to being placed on leave after a run-in with the law. 

Police say Jones was arrested on Dec. 11 in Prince George's County on a felony theft charge. Authorities would not provide the circumstances surrounding his arrest, but according to the charge, the alleged incident involved an item or items valued between $1,000 and $10,000.

“They’re supposed to be stand up citizens,” says Ezra Bryant.

Bryant, who lives in the neighborhood served by the fire hall, is concerned about yet another issue impacting a department already plagued with fleet and maintenance problems.

“The Fire Department has been under fire for years now… fire chief and other issues with the equipment. This is another bad mark on their reputation.”

Sources say Jones graduated from the cadet program at the D.C. Fire Deparment Training Academy. The program was re-introduced by Mayor Gray with the enthusiastic support of Chief Ellerbe to give recent District high school graduates an opportunity to learn an admirable craft and then serve the residents of their city as a firefighter.

The arrest is the latest in a number of problems faced by the D.C. Fire Department this year. In the spring, the department came under fire after multiple ambulances broke down. Recently, Chief Ellerbe admitted only a fraction of the department's ladder trucks passed a safety test. And last week, an ABC7 News investigation revealed fire departments of similar sizes in other cities have much higher safety test records for ladder and pumper trucks.

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Comments - Add Yours

  • 1dctaxpayer

    Bad apples are bad apples; plenty of great firefighters came through the cadet program.

    However if this so called Chief continues to hire only cadets without giving the required entrance exam,

    You will see this happening with more frequency.

  • Anonymous

    SHOCKER… how history repeats itself over and over with this program.



  • Harvey Glick

    How about a follow up of Feb 2013's cadet allegations of sexual haressment.
    Why hasn't / isn't the cadet been open to all DC high schools?
    Why isn't it run like any other apprenticeship program where one has to complete / pass all the entrance requirements?

  • Fire21

    Innocent until proven guilty, but if he's guilty, this is one out of how many cadets?  My dept has a cadet program too, and a few have gotten into trouble over the years, but that doesn't make the program bad, just the individuals' behavior.

    • dave statter

      And I am hoping you are correct Fire21. But this is a program with a history that was pretty bad. It came from poor screening and background checks. If lessons were learned from those mistakes it should be an isolated incident.

      • oh really

        I disagree with you Dave, so if a few recruits (non-cadets) get arrested and it does happens time to time, does it make the hiring of recruits bad?. I'm not keeping score but, if you check out the special orders that come out, look at the very bottom where it says terminations, believe me they are not all cadets.

        • dave statter

          All I am saying is that in the past there has been a documented history in both the fire department and the police department of doing a poor job in background checks. I am not saying that is occurring now, because I don’t know. You are correct, one or two arrests don’t mean anything and those getting in trouble aren’t all cadets. I look for patterns. Just a reminder about learning from the past.

  • Anonymous

    One of the components of the PERB ruling which seemed to affirm managment (Quander, Ellerbe, Grey, and assorted company) rights for a shift change also contained a provision for affirming a polygraph of employees under the auspices of the national security nature of the District.  On the surface, this would seem appropriate, given this latest fiasco.  However, the idea of preemployment screening, as is done in some jurisdictions (Alexandria and Fairfax, I believe) is not the intended concern of the administration.

    What Quander and Ellerbe intend is that the PERB ruling regarding the polygraph will help stem the abuse of performance of duty (POD) injuries, especially in light of any actualization of a shift change.  The idea being that an extension of the work week or shift realignment will be met with a job action which includes the feigning of on-the-job injury.  Think about the idiocy of this Administration for a minute.

    Paul Quander and the Fire Chief do believe that a shift change will cause a job action against the citizens of the District.  They understand the hardship cause by either a 3-3-3 (going from a 40 to a 56 hours workload) or a 24/48 (going from a 40 to a 48 hour workload with 24 hours LESS rest between shifts).  They also understand the increased hours might lead to increased injury.  They don’t care whether the injuries are legitimate or abuse, just that the firefighers need to think about the possibility of being polygraphed to prove that they aren’t faking it. 

    Think I am making a silly jump here?  Take chute times.  Ellerbe believed that or was told that there would be a work slow down in response times aimed at making the administration look bad.  So a program of chute time under the guise of accountability was formed.  Everyone knows, how absurd the tracking of response chute times and the pressure put on the chief officers to track has become. 

    The Quander and Ellerbe show with Grey as the ringmaster. The idea that they believe labor is the enemy and that they would need to resort to a polygraph for this is beyond ridiculous.  It’s just like the ambulance fires and the statement by Quander that “we just want to make sure nothing ‘untoward’ is happening.”

    So now, the same posse believe that they will get some kind of a new shift either to meet the shorter shift “mandate” of the Rosenbaum commission or the equally silly idea that a shift change will push out non-resident firefighters and emts.  While everything is on the table, Paul Quander, who is a lawyer, and who wants to be a judge, should have been smarter than all this.  He was led by the nose by the Fire Chief but now can't even stand on his own two feet and understand the legal ramifications of what he has helped create – a hostile labor environment that put his own boss at risk. 

    The first instance of using a polygraph against suspected POD abuse will be met with a major lawsuit.  The potential APPROPRIATE use of a polygraph – pre-employment screening, will most likely not be used because it will jeopardize the cadet program.  How ironic is that?  How much more nonsense should the firefighter's in DC have to take?

  • ukfbbuff

    DC Mayor Gray and his “Chief” Ellerbee just seem to equal:


  • Anonymous

    ~~Police say Jones was arrested on Dec. 11 in Prince George's County on a felony theft charge… thought the cadet program was supposed to give back to the city neighborhoods they live in aka Brentwood,

    oh nevermind… what was i thinking

  • ThatGuy

    Under this clown's administration, he has hired approximately

    120 cadets (Which take over a year to train)

    30 Recruits from the entrance exam which is 5 years old

    20 Army Veterans

    0 Firefighter Paramedics 

  • Ol Skool 86

    They are given a job on a platter. They do not have to compete or conduct themselves like other recruit classes. This is all because of the brainwashing and racial tension placed in there head by certain militants on this job. Yes so can turn out great as long as they stay clear of the brain washers . It is very interesting to watch, they don't salute ranking officials, senior FF try to teach them skills and they roll the eyes and smack their's down right disrespectful and those that steer these kids in the wrong direction are only hindering their possible progress.

  • SrFireOfficial

     ‘Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.’

    George Santayana


    "Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results." – Albert Einstein

  • Anonymous

    Recruits get in trouble just as well as cadets its bad apples everywhere.

  • Prof FF from Close By

    Well……recruits from the 2008 register have been ready for hire since Ellerbe took over. Too bad no one cares. I have personally been cycled through the hiring process twice, only to wait now 6 years because the Chief only wants to hire cadets.

  • JustSayin’

    Was just thinking ….

    If Souperman had a son ….

    NEVER MIND…   He lives with the one he loves the most..

    Not much reproduction potential there….

  • balt city retired

    The over all outcome from my sources tell me the program is a success. I have family there @ DCfire who have stated, yes there has been some issues with some of the cadets, but overall the vast majority go on to have productive careers.

    Now, recruit or cadet alike your gonna have some bad apples, no bones about it. Why is this such big news. I mean, why does it matter that he was cadet. Head lines should have read, “Probationer DC Firefighter gets arrested for theft in PG county”.

    There is disention amongst the rank and file pertaining to the program, and it seems even more evident now. I don’t mean to say that this is high tide, because the program was met with a brick wall and vilified over decades.

    If he is guilty of what he is accused of, than the law will take its course. I don’t believe that DC Fire will ever come together as one cohesive unit, because there are too many who like or want things their way.

    I believe the program is good for the young men and women who come through the ranks. Contrary to what many believe, it is a competitive process among those applying. They have to compete with other high school kids to get in.

    The primary reason the cadet program isn’t met with open arms is because, the program is caters to young black youths of the city. You can’t tell me race has nothing to do with it, I can tell by the post.

    I don’t care who breaks the law and oath of office, they don’t deserve to be in your ranks. Because this is a hot topic and a baby of Ellerbe, it’s fodder for the press.

    My guess is this will be along standing feud and issue within DCFire for along time,unless someone like the last chief scrap it. I know that would make a lot of smiling faces, not that I would agree

  • balt city retired

    Just curious, can anyone tell me the numbers or percentage of your rank in file who backs the chief and who is against him. I’ve seen a few news clips such as the one when your members turned their backs on their chief.

    Who were they?. Was it an even mix of members? Or was it one sided?. What about the vote of no confidence?, what was the break down of that?. Reason I’m asking because I’ve seen post in the past saying most don’t the current chief. Is it primarily the whites and a few blacks, or split down racial lines.

    Can someone give me some round about numbers, because the news clip of members turning their backs looked lopped sided to me. Again I’m not a supporter or detractor of your chief, I’m just a spectator

    • Anonymous

      Balt city, your points are well taken.  Most know that the stage for this clown show was set by the previous administration, who was predominantely white.  The vast majority of whites in the Dept wanted change because the Fenty was hostile to organized labor and the Fire Chief/Asst Chief of Ops were running self-righteousness which was damaging to everything fromt he disciplinary system to disenfranchisment of the Membership.  I'd say 3/4 whites and 90% of blacks were detractors. 

      Now we have the racial mixed with the hostile labor practices of Ellerbe, Quander, and Grey.  The sad thing is this will make it more difficult for any successive black leadership to be credible.  IMO, it has set the black firefighters back because of the stupidity the three created.  

      However,  Ellerbe, Quander, and Grey have done something that Fenty did but at an even greater percentage.  I'd venture 90% of the black firefighters and 100% of the white have nothing but contempt for this administration.  The 10% of the blacks that support are beneficiaries of either promotional reward or  will always be hostile to Local 36.  Of course, this flies in the face of their own self-interest as how can you accept greater work hours and a pay cut just to say you support an up against-the-wall  black FC ? 


  • ghengis khan

    The cadets that come on this job do not have a lot of time to grow up. You have to become an adult real fast and adjust or you will be looking for a job.

    One problem is this is a first job for most of them, and that’s not probably a good thing. Like anything else some are gonna make it and some wont.

    The probie probably wasn’t discipline and if he’s guilty, I don’t want him in my firehouse. I am a supporter of the cadet program and believe in it. There are chiefs,capts, Lt,ect… that have come up the ranks and doing well.

    This isn’t a cadet “thang” it’s an ethics and discipline problem with some. They all are not gonna make it that’s scripture…if you can’t conform…well than seek other employment. that goes for recruit and cadet alike

  • no dice

    I dont support the program. could care less about race, creed or sexual preference. no special treatment. if you want the job than you can stand in line with the 2000 + other applicants and hope your number gets drawn. the special treatment comes when you get your residency points on the entrance exam. hire the best based on ability and get a better product. easy.

  • EnoughAlready

    Whoever brought this story to the media should be ashamed of themselves. Lets keep the dirty laundry in the house. Due Process is afforded to everyone regardless of whether they are cadets or not. Most of us have done a few stupid things and never got the media called on us.