Responding to resistance in the Capitol Police ranks to proposed policy changes on personal grooming and time-off requests, management has agreed to extend a moratorium on enforcing the new directives through Aug. 15.
“No formal personnel actions regarding any of the new or revised content will occur during this extended period,” Capitol Police spokeswoman Lt. Kimberly Schneider told Roll Call. “The USCP continues to work with all our employees regarding any transition issues.”
The extension of the enforcement moratorium by acting Chief Tom Reynolds will provide more time for officials to negotiate with the Capitol Police Labor Committee, which has complained that the directives were handed down without union input by Reynolds’ predecessor, Phillip Morse, who resigned in May.
Labor Committee President Jim Konczos has said that if certain directives are not significantly revised or removed entirely, the union will consider filing an unfair labor practices complaint with the Office of Compliance, which is for most Congressional employees the first step leading to litigation.
Konczos and other officers in union leadership, along with an attorney, spent last week doing a line-by-line review of more than 100 directives, which have been in limbo since the first week of June, when the Capitol Police agreed to postpone enforcement for 60 days.
Of these, the union identified “nine or 10” policy changes, Konczos said, that they want scrapped or significantly reworked, including one that relates to how time-off requests are processed under the Family and Medical Leave Act and another that relates to visible tattoos.
The latter directive would require members of the force to cover tattoos and body markings “whenever possible” and would mandate that tattoos covering “more than one third of the area of exposed skin on an arm or leg ... must be covered while on duty.”
Officers have expressed concern that the directive would violate their freedom of expression, not to mention create a nuisance on hot summer days.
For now, Konczos is satisfied with the three-week nonenforcement period.
“As long as they’ve already put out an order saying [the directives] are not going to be used adversely against any officer, we’re fine with that,” he said, “as long as we come to some sort of resolution.”
Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., right, hugs Harold Schaitberger, General President of the International Association of Fire Fighters, after the Congressman spoke at the IAFF's Legislative Conference General Session at the Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill, March 9, 2015. The day featured addresses by members of Congress and Vice President Joe Biden.