Current and former D.C. police officers who say they were punished for exposing wrongdoing lost a court case against the Washington, D.C., government, a ruling hailed by the city as a check on frivolous lawsuits and condemned by watchdog groups as a new burden for whistleblowers, the Washington Post reports. The head of the police labor union, which backed the litigation, said the D.C. Court of Appeals ruling imposes nearly impossible-to-meet standards on municipal workers who want to report waste, fraud and abuse.
“This is a huge victory for government corruption,” said Kristopher Baumann, president of the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 1. “This is why no one speaks up. If you come forward, you will be crushed. It puts a muzzle on everyone.” Police Chief Cathy Lanier and D.C. Attorney General Irvin Nathan praised the ruling. Lanier called the lawsuit one “with no merit,” and Nathan said the litigation was a “patent misuse” of the whistleblower statute that “required a great expenditure of city resources.” The case resolves a $15 million lawsuit over the propriety of the police department's “reimbursable details” — the way the agency contracts with stores, bars, and neighborhood groups to provide uniformed officers for extra-duty security on overtime. The city and the retailers split the salary costs.