News 4's Chris Gordon gets both sides of the debate on breastfeeding officers going on beat patrol.
The Fraternal Order of Police is upset that breastfeeding female officers from the Metropolitan Police Department are being pushed out of desk jobs and on to street patrol, which causes them difficulty and discomfort.
In November, Police Chief Cathy Lanier issued an order intended to force healthy officers from desk jobs to street patrols. As a result, breastfeeding female officers were sent back to beat patrols.
“You have to wear a bulletproof vest, which is extremely painful and can cause some physical damage,” FOP Chairman Kristopher Baumann said. “And in addition to that, because when you are lactating there are time requirements when you have to pump for breast milk, the officers out in the field are now forced to come back into the station and use their breast pumps there.”
Lactation rooms are unsanitary and unfit for female officers who need privacy to pump breast milk, according to the union.
“The problem is the department wasn't ready for any of this despite enforcing those rules and set up a series of lactation rooms -- in some cases the break room in a district,” Baumann said. “We had an officer who was trying to pump breast milk this weekend who had three officers walk in on her while she was doing it because it was an unsecured room, and overall the policy has just been a disaster.”
“Breastfeeding is something that is a choice by the parent,” Lanier said. “We support that choice. We'll accommodate them every way we can but we are talking about a period of years that go by. More than a year, there's not much more I can do than provide as much reasonable accommodation as I can.”
The union and the department are in arbitration over the issue.