D.C.

Lanier, union clash over breastfeeding rooms

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Some mothers on the D.C. police force are in a battle over breastfeeding on the job.

(Photo: Associated Press)

Police Chief Cathy Lanier says she's one of the first police chiefs in the nation to have created a space for breastfeeding police officers on duty.

“I created a whole room so that they could have some privacy -- a place to store the milk. I think I've gone above and beyond,” Lanier said.

The police union counters the lactating rooms are dirty and not always private.

“I have a young son and I'm thinking of stopping breastfeeding my child because of this,” said a Metropolitan Police Officer who asked not to be named.

She says some of the rooms that are supposed to be designated for her to pump milk are not always sanitary or private. "I've been in a room when people have walked in on me with no clothes on," the officer said.

Kris Baumann of the Fraternal Order of Police says thanks to an unrelated directive, breastfeeding officers are also forced to return to the streets too early.

"Having a bulletproof vest on while breastfeeding can cause a lot of discomfort, can cause a lot of potential serious health issues,” Baumann said.

The police officer who spoke with ABC7 agrees. She said she had to go back on streets patrols six weeks after giving birth. That means finding a room to pump during her lunch break and wearing her uncomfortable bullet-proof vest.

"Being on full duty, being in full uniform with a heavy vest.. it's painful,” the officer said.

"It's definitely a really good step to have lactating rooms, but they need to make sure women have access when they need them,” said D.C. resident Addie Alexander.

"There's not much more I can do," Lanier said. The police union filed a grievance with the police chief. It's not set for arbitration.

The officer said she hopes the complaints will prompt a discussion with new mothers on the police force.

"I think there should be more questions asked to those going through this and then hopefully they'll re-evaluate things,” the officer said.

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