Officials defend MPD transfer

Facing opposition from the University and neighborhood leaders, city officials told community members last week that they support the Metropolitan Police Department’s recent decision to move a beloved lieutenant out of Foggy Bottom.

Lt. Phillip Lanciano, a police officer who often worked closely with GW and the neighborhood, was abruptly reassigned to the 6th District in Southeast last week without public explanation from MPD. Matthew Klein, the new acting commander for MPD’s 2nd District, told residents at the West End Citizens’ Association meeting Saturday afternoon that the decision to move Lanciano was not a punishment.

“It’s not that he wasn’t doing a good job, not that he did anything to upset (Chief of Police Cathy Lanier),” Klein said.

He said Lanciano was one of the more experienced officers in the force and Lanier felt “she needed his expertise in another part of the city.”

Lanciano was moved from the 2nd District – where there were 460 cases of homicide, sexual assault, robbery, stolen auto and aggravated assault reported in 2005 – to the 6th District, where 2,961 of these cases were reported, according to MPD statistics.

Lanier had plans to speak at the Saturday meeting, but Klein spoke in her place because she was unable to attend due to a family emergency.

Last week the Foggy Bottom Association sent a letter to Lanier and D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty asking that they reinstate Lanciano to his post in the 2nd District, where he has served for the past 11 years.

They also passed out a template letter to encourage neighborhood residents to send their own requests.

D.C. Councilman Jack Evans, D-Ward 2, told the FBA on Thursday that he regrets the neighborhood lost a “stellar” officer, but declined to involve himself in the Lanciano reinstatement effort. He said he supports Lanier’s personnel changes.

“We need to keep politics out of the police department,” Evans said.

He said involving city council members in certain MPD affairs would lead to a weaker and more corrupt police force.

“If you give a council member power over personnel matters, you lose your police department,” Evans said. “I was here when that was done in the 1980s, and you will have a mess on your hand.”

At a special meeting of the Advisory Neighborhood Commission held Sunday night, members discussed holding a hearing to investigate Lanciano’s controversial transfer.

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