WASHINGTON, D.C. (WUSA) - The union representing Metropolitan Police Department officers has filed suit to demand the city adhere to a law that dictates a review board meet twice a year to set standards and to review training and recruitment by the department.
The Police Officers Standards and Training Board is designed to have 14 members. There are currently 12 vacancies. The Board has not met since 2007.
"The big danger is that we're going down a road that we've been down before in 1989 and 1990. The department had to do mass hirings. They lowered their standards and it cost in terms of our reputation and the quality of persons that the department hired. It did a lot of damage to the police department and we're headed down the same road if we don't follow what the law says, and have that board in place," said Delroy Burton, a police union official.
Burton was referring to recruits who had criminal histories, became members of the department, and engaged in criminal activity while on the force.
"It has to do with quality. We want the highest quality and the highest standards and the law put that in place, and currently the law just isn't being followed," Burton told 9NewsNow.
The chairman of the city council that oversees public safety says he is surprised by the lawsuit. Phil Mendelson says the union never raised the issue with his committee.
Mendelson says the current city administration is not at fault.
"What we saw over the last four years, under the previous mayor, was that there was a deliberate effort to not appoint anybody to these boards.
"A lot of these boards, the membership just dried up and the boards just became non-existent. This is just another one of those boards that was a victim of the previous mayoral administration," Mendelson said.
"But we've had a new mayor for a year and a half now and that continues," responded 9NewsNow.
"I'm not so sure I would say it continues as much as there was such a deep hole dug by the abandonment by the previous administration that it's very hard to fill all those boards at one time," Mendelson answered.
The city asked a judge this week to throw the suit out of court but that motion was refused and the suit continues.
Mendelson says it may be time to re-examine whether the board is necessary. "Everything is on the table," he said.