Capitol Police Union Likely to Delay No Confidence Vote
Last week, the Capitol Police Labor Committee was intent on holding a vote of no confidence against supervisors in the Capitol Division, a move that would have no enforcement effect but would be politically embarrassing nonetheless.
But it seems just the threat of a no confidence vote might have been powerful all on its own: Today, after a meeting with acting Capitol Police Chief Tom Reynolds and Capitol Division Inspector Jeffrey Pickett, union President Jim Konczos said he would likely delay any vote for the time being.
“I think it was productive,” Konczos said of the meeting. “There have been some communication breakdowns on a number of issues.”
Until Wednesday, the union was actively pursuing a vote of no confidence among Capitol Division officers against their supervisors with the ranks of captain and inspector, alleging they have 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.
According to an Oct. 10 letter Konczos has circulated among Capitol Division officers, supervisors are also disciplining subordinates “based on their own false statements” and sanctioning a “questionable reduction in manpower as we prepare for the Presidential Inauguration.”
Such a vote was necessary, Konczos said, to force management to take responsibility and accountability for the actions of some members of the force who are abusing the system without consequence. After months of meetings with Reynolds and members of the Capitol Police Board, Konczos said he was tired of talking and waiting for action.
Senate Sergeant-at-Arms Terrance Gainer, in his capacity as a member of the Police Board, said he thought the discord might be the result of some sustained miscommunication among stakeholders.
“While I don’t have 100 percent of the facts in these cases, I suspect there is a solution if we sit down and try to work through them calmly,” Gainer said last week. “Everybody’s got to take a deep breath.”
Today’s meeting illuminated that there could have been such a breakdown.
According to Konczos, Reynolds and Pickett said that in the mandatory weekly meetings between union shop stewards and chief shop stewards with their lieutenants and inspectors, respectively, the stewards were not articulating the extent of the problems that Konczos and his colleagues in Labor Committee leadership have been bemoaning. That means that, regardless of whether Capitol Division inspectors and captains have been acting inappropriately, there was information about their behavior that was not being filtered from key union members to members of Capitol Police management — or perhaps from the union executive board to the shop stewards.
Konczos said another meeting will be convened Tuesday that will bring Capitol Police top brass, the union executive board and all the shop stewards together in one room to hash things out.
In the meantime, Konczos said concerns about ` of FMLA paperwork might be the first issue to be resolved: Reynolds said today that beginning Oct. 29, a new policy will be enforced that streamlines the process for getting FMLA time-off requests approved, taking the process out of many different hands and clarifying where the buck stops, so to speak, with making a final decision on whether to grant a specific request.
All this news, though, doesn’t change the fact that Konczos still wants some admission of mismanagement from leadership.
“The new FMLA policy fixes everything going forward, but we still want accountability for what has happened in the past,” Konczos said. “If not punishment, at least acknowledgement. … I personally would take that right now.”
Capitol Police spokeswoman Lt. Kimberly Schneider declined to offer further comment on Konczos’ letter, specific claims against supervisors and the outcome of the day’s discussions. Speaking last week on behalf of the department and Reynolds, however, she said there was a commitment to working with the Labor Committee to resolve differences.
“Acting Chief Reynolds values the cooperative relationship with the union,” she said. “The Department has the utmost confidence in its commanders, officers and employees of the Department. He continues to work with the Union on workplace matters.”
Correction: Oct. 18, 2012
An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated who attended the meeting today with Capitol Police Chief Tom Reynolds and union President Jim Konczos. It was Capitol Division Inspector Jeffrey Pickett.