DC Update: Police union says no to Mayor Gray’s event because of fire chief’s White House flap. Councilmember wants IG to probe cadet harassment charge.

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The head of the police union in DC says his members will join IAFF Local 36 members in not attending Mayor Vincent Gray’s luncheon to honor city workers who helped safeguard the Inauguration. The FOP is taken this action because of DC Fire & EMS Department Chief Kenneth Ellerbe. Kristopher Baumann told Washington Examiner City Hall reporter Alan Blinder, “We’re not going to participate until this administration starts behaving like it’s run by adults and starts treating fellow workers with respect.”

Baumann is referring to Chief Ellerbe’s decision last week to review the cirumstances behind three firefighters appearing in uniform at a White House event with President Obama. Chief Ellerbe issued a statement Friday saying that the initial report by WRC-TV/NBC4 reporter Mark Segraves was not accurate and that discipline was not being considered, though the firefighters were ordered to file reports about the incident. One of those firefighters had publicly battled with Chief Ellerbe last year over multiple changes to the department’s uniform policy.

IAFF Local 36 president Ed Smith also talked to reporter Blinder:

But Edward Smith, the president of the firefighters’ union, said taking part in the celebratory luncheon amid an ongoing review would have sent “a mixed message.”

“It definitely seemed inappropriate,” said Smith, who added that it “remains to be seen” whether the review will lead to discipline.

The White House flap is one of the news stories that prompted Chief Ellerbe to issue three statements within 24 hours last week (and here) claiming reporter accounts in each were inaccurate. One of the other stories was about sexual harassment claims made by cadets at the Training Academy against two instructors. The differences between the story reported by WJLA-TV/ABC 7 and information in Chief Ellerbe’s statement has Council member Tommy Wells asking for an inspector general’s investigation of the matter.


In a letter dated Feb. 26, 2013, Wells asks the inspector general to investigate the allegations. He states that there is wide difference between what fire officials say and what’s being reported by the media.

The story, which was an exclusive ABC7 I-Team Investigation, discovered looming sex scandal in the D.C. Fire Department involving female trainees. Multiple sources told ABC7 that two female cadets recently accused two training academy instructors of sexual harassment.

“We took immediate action to remove those members from the presence of our cadets and continued class,” says D.C. Fire & EMS Chief Kenneth Ellerbe. “The ladies have asked that we keep this matter confidential and we’ve done our best to do that until this matter is completely resolved.”

2013-02-26, Inspector General RE FEMS Harassmment Allegation by DavidKihara