Muriel Bowser

Budget Battle Could Force Out DC's Senior Detectives

Detective Gus Giannkoulias clearly remembers the night a group of masked gunmen opened fire last summer in a D.C. neighborhood, killing 10-year-old Mikayah Wilson.

He was at home, but drove straight to the scene when he heard about the shooting.

"From July 16 to August 26 I did not take a day off," Giannkoulias said. "I was so determined to do my best to work as hard as I could to bring justice to the family."

Seven people were charged in Wilson's killing. 

The Metropolitan Police Department named Giannkoulias the detective of the year - despite the fact he retired from the department three months before the deadly shooting.

He returned under the senior officers program, which allows select officers to retire and start collecting their pension while still working on cases. They earn about $85,000 in addition to their pension.

The department currently has 21 senior detectives and 57 sergeants.

"The Special Victims Unit is comprised of three homicide detectives. Two of us are senior police detectives. A total of last year, the three detectives handled 52 cases," Giannkoulias said.

The program started in 2016 and was intended as a temporary solution to a huge retirement bubble the department faced.

Now, Mayor Muriel Bowser and Police Chief Peter Newsham want the D.C. Council to extend the program another five years.

"We’re hiring a lot of new officers, and this just isn’t the time to let senior people, experienced people go," Police Chief Peter Newsham said.

Council member Charles Allen oversees the police department and acknowledged the senior officer program has helped, but he has heard from younger officers who say they cannot get a promotion because older officers are not leaving.

"When they’re not sure if they've got a promotion or that position is going to be available to them, they also start looking around at other jurisdictions," Allen said.

"That fear that they’re going to be taking positions from our younger officers is really a little bit overstated. There’s going to be a lot of opportunity for our young people," Newsham said.

The D.C. Council will decide the fate of the program in the coming weeks.

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