By Jackie Kucinich - 06/20/06 12:00 AM EDT
Members of national and local chapters of the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) expressed anger and disappointment yesterday with the D.C. Office of the Attorney General for refusing to indict Rep. Cynthia McKinney (D-Ga.) for striking a police officer. The union chapters are calling on the House ethics committee to investigate the incident.
“Although she was not indicted by the grand jury, we hope that members of Congress will review her actions in light of their own rules within the ethics committee,” said Andy Maybo, chairman of the U.S. Capitol Police Fraternal Order of Police chapter.
Maybo said he plans to send a letter later this week to the ethics committee, known formally as the Committee on Standards of Official Conduct, requesting an investigation into the incident.
A spokesman for the ethics committee did not immediately return a call for comment. While it is unclear what House rule the FOP members believe McKinney violated, the first rule in the ethics manual states: “A Member, officer, or employee of the House of Representatives shall conduct himself at all times in a manner which shall reflect creditably on the House of Representatives.”
“Congresswoman McKinney’s assault on Officer [Paul] McKenna was not only unprofessional for her position as a member of Congress, but we believe it puts out the wrong message across America, that it is OK to strike a police officer,” he said.
Lou Cannon, the president of the D.C. Fraternal Order of Police, echoed Maybo’s remarks, adding that regardless of any animosity felt among the officers toward the lawmaker she will still be protected as a member of Congress.
“The United States Capitol Police is a professional law-enforcement organization and will take this in stride, as all police officers have learned to do with unfavorable decisions,” Cannon said. “Rep. McKinney will always be afforded the courtesies of her position by those of us sworn to protect and serve.”
Maybo and Cannon also criticized the timing of the announcement that the grand jury had refused to indict McKinney, which occurred Friday after 5 p.m.
Channing Phillips, a spokesman for U.S. Attorney General Kenneth Wainstein, defended the timing.
“We essentially had no choice,” he said, explaining that a chief judge must review decisions before they are made public.
“The chief judge was not scheduled to accept grand jury returns until 4 [p.m.] on Friday, which is not uncommon because it allows the grand jury to complete its work for the day. … Therefore, Friday’s timing was routine,” he said.
The Capitol Police commended the professionalism of McKenna and the investigative units of the force that looked into the allegations in a release issued Friday night and said they respect the grand jury’s decision.
“The United States Capitol Police respect the decision of the grand jury and appreciate the extensive and thorough investigative work of the United States Attorney’s Office,” the release said.
Capitol Police spokeswoman Sgt. Kimberly Schneider, who was present at the end of the FOP press conference, declined to comment further on the matter.
On March 30, McKenna stopped McKinney as she entered the Longworth House Office Building. When she failed to respond to a verbal warning, according to reports, McKenna reached out to stop McKinney, who was not wearing congressional identification.
McKinney then struck McKenna with a closed fist holding her cell phone, according to allegations, flashed her congressional identification card and walked away.
A spokesman for McKinney did not return a call for comment by press time.