Union Considers Vote on Police Chief

Posted June 27, 2008 at 11:01am

The Capitol Police union is considering a vote of no confidence for Chief Phillip Morse, citing deteriorating labor relations and a lack of leadership.

Labor Committee Chairman Matt Tighe announced Thursday night that union members debated a motion to have the vote, but ultimately decided to put it off until a survey of officers could be completed.

“The membership feels there’s no clear direction on this department anymore,” Tighe said. “The term kicked around [Thursday] night was ‘devoid of leadership.’ They feel lost.”

About 900 first-line officers are members of the Labor Committee, which is a chapter of the Fraternal Order of Police.

Police spokeswoman Sgt. Kimberly Schneider said the considered vote was a union issue and thus the department had no comment.

The union’s announcement comes on the heels of a controversy over 15 recruits who were asked to resign after the department discovered they did not pass their background, psychological or physical tests. Blame has fallen on former Human Resources Director Jennifer McCarthy, who was removed from her post.

The recruits had already been through about two months of training — at a cost of about $6 million, according to one officer familiar with the incident. At least six recruits have retained a lawyer to appeal the decision.

Tighe said the survey will gauge union members’ opinions on Morse’s job performance. It will be released online as soon as possible and completed by July 6. The union will then decide whether to have a vote of no confidence, an action never before taken in the union’s history, Tighe said.

In recent months, the union has complained of Morse’s limited contact with officers and the force’s low morale under his leadership.

“I think it’s unfortunate that things have progressed to this point,” Tighe said. “Membership is highly upset.”