Metropolitan Police Department Chief Cathy Lanier defended her decision to transfer Lt. Phillip Lanciano from the Foggy Bottom area to a district in Southeast D.C. at a meeting of the Foggy Bottom Association Tuesday night.
Lanciano, who often worked closely with the University and community groups, was transferred from his position after 11 years of service, prompting an outcry from community members and administrators earlier this month.
“This (transfer) is not meant to harm the community or Phil,” Lanier told the audience of concerned neighbors. Community members discovered that Lanciano received the notice while on vacation.
Lanier said she was not aware that Lanciano was on vacation when he received notice of his transfer, but she assured community members that she spoke on the phone with him for an hour about the situation.
“It’s not punitive,” Lanier said. “(Lanciano) understands and if anything it’s a compliment to the skills he has.”
FBA Vice President Jackie Lemire criticized Lanier for not talking with the community prior to the decision to transfer Lanciano. Lanier said in the future that she will contact the Advisory Neighborhood Commission to let them know when she plans to make a transfer.
Residents also criticized Lanciano’s replacement, Lt. Alesia Wheeler-Moore, for failing to attend recent community meetings. New Second District Commander Matthew Klein promised Wheeler-Moore would attend more neighborhood gatherings in the future.
“Lets give her an opportunity,” Klein said. “She hasn’t even failed yet.”
Kristopher Bauman, chairman of the Fraternal Order of Police, was asked to attend the meeting to talk about community policing.
He stressed internal problems within MPD, mentioning that the department is understaffed and has a problem with retaining its officers each year.
FBA members also read aloud letters that the FBA, ANC and the University drafted in support of Lanciano.