The Capitol Police Labor Committee is circulating a survey to the nearly 380 officers of the Capitol Division, the results of which could determine whether it pursues a formal “no confidence” vote against department management.
The union plans to collect all completed surveys by next Monday and share the results by mid-December, around the time new Capitol Police Chief Kim C. Dine is sworn into office to replace Phillip Morse, who resigned in June.
“We don’t want to blindside him,” union President Jim Konczos said, emphasizing that any additional measure taken by the labor committee would follow a presentation of the findings to Dine and a conversation about how to proceed.
The three-page, 19-question survey comes on the heels of a union threat in mid-October to hold a no-confidence vote against supervisors in the Capitol Division, a move that would have no enforcement effect but would be politically embarrassing nonetheless.
The supervisors, the union contended, had been enforcing their own directives without consistency or consultation with management, ordering officers to report for duty in unsafe working conditions and mishandling time-off requests covered under the Family and Medical Leave Act.
The Labor Committee agreed to postpone holding such a vote, however, after meeting with Acting Chief Tom Reynolds and other stakeholders. According to all sides involved, Reynolds made good-faith efforts to respond to union concerns, and all parties concluded that many tensions were the results of communication breakdowns.
But these peace talks didn’t clear Capitol Division supervisors’ record of misconduct, Konczos said, a survey was still necessary to determine whether all of the alleged problems had been resolved. The results could be useful in discussing specific changes with Dine when he takes the helm of the force later this month and, if they are particularly damning, could reopen the possibility of a no-confidence vote.
The survey asks officers to respond to 17 statements by circling the number that best reflects their sentiments, from 1, for “strongly disagree,” to 5, for “strongly agree.”
Some statements aim to gauge how officers feel about their supervisors’ leadership. One reads, “my supervisors have a clear understanding of current laws, Department policies and SOPs,” and another states, “My supervisors properly inform me of changes in policies and procedures affecting my job.”
Other statements will help paint a picture of how the Capitol Division force is doing in terms of morale: “I enjoy coming to work each day” and “My ideas and concerns are considered valuable by my supervisor.”
Questions 17 and 18 ask officers to list three things that are going well and three things that need improvement in their specific sections. The last question gives officers the opportunity to provide “suggestions or problems.”
“Given the opportunity what would you change?” the survey asks.
Capitol Police spokesman Officer Shennell Antrobus would not comment specifically on the content of the survey: “As the [union] survey is an internal matter initiated by Union leadership, designed to obtain input from its bargaining unit members, the Department will not comment on the document,” he said in a statement.
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.