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LOC Police Force Files Suit Against Merger

The Library of Congress police union has filed a lawsuit alleging that the force’s upcoming merger with the Capitol Police is unconstitutional.

The lawsuit, filed Monday, contends the the merger would violate LOC police officers’ right to due process.

The lawsuit comes almost six months after President Bush signed a bill that outlined the terms of the merger and set into motion the steps to unite the two forces by Sept. 30, 2009. The bill was the culmination of a years-long effort to centralize the security of Capitol Hill.

The union has already filed an unfair labor practice complaint as well as race and age discrimination complaints against the Capitol Police and the LOC. Those are making their way through the agencies and can’t go to the courts until the internal process is completed.

But the lawsuit takes a different approach in a bid to get the matter settled before the impending merger.

“This case is a straight-out, simple challenge to the constitutionality of the act,” said J. Michael Hannon, the lawyer representing the union. “We’re not seeking to have anybody given back pay, and we’re not seeking to get any discrimination remedy.”

Instead, the lawsuit aims to get a court to strike down the law and thus stop the merger. It is filed against the Capitol Police, the Capitol Police Board and the LOC.

Capitol Police spokeswoman Sgt. Kimberly Schneider declined to comment on the case.

Most of the 93 Library officers are black and older than 40. They aren’t required to retire because of age and are trained in protecting the LOC’s priceless collection.

But under the merger, the force would take on the Capitol Police’s requirements and priorities. Officers would have to comply with the Capitol Police’s mandatory retirement age of 57. None would be fired, but some would be transferred to civilian positions.

The union wants LOC officers to be exempted from the mandatory retirement age and allowed to stay in uniform. Because Bush has signed the bill into law, Members are unlikely to revisit an issue that has already been debated at length.

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