Police Union Polls Members on Chief

Posted July 1, 2008 at 11:26am

The Capitol Police union has posted a survey to its 900 members that asks questions about such issues as “the lack of trust” in the department and Chief Phillip Morse’s willingness to “acknowledge his own shortcomings.”

Officers will have until Sunday to complete the survey, and the union will then consider a vote of no confidence in Morse. Such a vote would be the first in the history of the union, which is part of the Fraternal Order of Police.

“This isn’t a witch hunt for the chief,” said Matt Tighe, chairman of the Capitol Police Labor Committee. “We want to be as fair and unbiased as possible.”

The survey, obtained by Roll Call, includes 11 questions about Morse and the department. Ten are statements that ask members to agree or disagree, and several repeat assertions by officers and the union that are critical of the department and Morse.

The survey comes soon after the department revealed that it asked 15 recruits to resign because they didn’t pass background, physical or psychological tests. Those tests are supposed to be done before an officer is hired, yet the recruits had already gone through some two months of training before being asked to resign.

But the questions go beyond that incident and point to unrest in the union.

One question asks members to agree or disagree with the statement: “The lack of trust and communication that currently exists within the Department reduces the effectiveness of its officers and impedes our ability to serve and protect the Capitol, Members of Congress and the Senate, visitors and staff.”

Another states: “The Chief of Police holds every member of the Department, regardless of rank, civilian or sworn, to the same professional standards as they relate to conduct and discipline.”

Tighe said the questions were decided at a general membership meeting and posted online Friday. Only the union’s members can access the survey, which closes at midnight Sunday.

The union will then distribute the results to any interested Congressional committees and the Capitol Police Board in the hope that they will take any “necessary action,” Tighe said.