Via Washington City Paper:
Matt Mahl was elected a year ago on the promise of transparency and accountability, and a stated intent to be more cooperative with the department in addressing member grievances. But he quickly established a reputation among old guard union leaders for being aloof with both members and the media—and too conciliatory with the department.
“It’s about broken promises, trustworthiness, and absence from the members,” a veteran detective who works violent crimes in far Southeast told reporters from the Washington City Paper where this story first appeared. “We don’t see or hear from him.”
Mahl, whose term is due to expire in April 2018, sees the mutiny as an attempt by ousted former leaders to regain control over the union. “We are somewhat divided,” he says. “We need to band together. We’re losing more officers that we can hire. Morale is bad. Why? Working conditions are bad, officers have crappy days off.”
Opponents of Mahl say one of his first acts was to suspend the filing of class grievances and to cease candidate endorsements which many believe is a political necessity. Then he dropped a number of cases pending before the Public Employee Review Board based on “lack of merit” and threatened to back away from a court appeal over retroactive pay that was lost during a prolonged salary dispute – a move overruled by the FOP’s executive council,
One of his actions that caused a lot of controversy was when Mahl asked the chief to issue him a fully equipped patrol car “for membership purposes,” even though the union had already purchased him an unmarked vehicle. Once confronted by members at a general membership meeting, Mahl agreed to return the car.
“I know how important the union is to cops—that bond, the psychology of it, knowing it’ll go to war for you if you’re facing discipline or fighting a grievance—but you gotta get to the bottom line, and that’s keeping the public safe,” says Tony Barksdale, retired deputy commissioner of operations for the Baltimore Police Department. “From a management perspective, the chief is nothing without his troops. And if they don’t believe in you, it can cripple the department and the city, and crime will go up.”