Fraternal Order of Police
Metropolitan Police Labor Committee
1524 Pennsylvania Ave., S.E.
Washington, D.C. 20003
(202) 548-8300 Fax (202) 548-8306
Acting Chairman Gregory Greene
Judiciary Committee of the June 17, 2003
The Executive Service Compensation System Changes Emergency Approval
Resolution of 2003, PR 15-212
The Separation Pay, Term of Office and Voluntary Retirement Modifications,
Compensation System Changes for Chief of Police Charles H. Ramsey
Amendment Act of 2003, Bill 15-273.
Chairman Cropp, Chairperson Patterson, Chairperson
Orange and other members of the City Council. Thank you for the
opportunity to testify regarding proposals to change the compensation and
retirement benefits for Chief of Police Charles H. Ramsey. I am Sgt.
Gregory Greene, Chairman of the Fraternal Order of Police Labor Committee
for the Metropolitan Police Department.
My remarks will be brief. I do not intend to analyze
the details of the package proposed for Chief Ramsey. Nor, do I wish to
comment on its merits. I do want to take this opportunity to express the
Union's position regarding the philosophies that have been articulated
regarding the compensation of this Chief of Police and relate them to the
rank and file police officers and sergeants I represent.
As I understand it this package, if approved, would
make Chief Ramsey the highest paid Chief of Police in the Metropolitan
Washington area. Mayor Williams, Chief Ramsey and some members of the City
Council justify this increase by pointing out that you, "get what you
pay for". Further, they say, our City deserves the best Chief of
Police because of the special demands placed upon him by the unique
circumstances that come with policing our nation's capital. The debate
over this proposal has also focused on the need for gauging the chiefs
performance in exchange for this compensation package.
The Fraternal Order of Police-Metropolitan Police Labor
Committee agrees with the proposition that you must pay for the quality
that you demand or, you will receive the quality that you deserve. It is
an immutable law of commerce that is applicable without regard to rank or
the wishes of the employer. I submit that it is much more important for
our city to higher the best frontline officers, detectives, investigators
and sergeants. These are the men and women who provide the services and
protect this community every day. While I do not underestimate the value
of the chief executive officer, I believe that we have placed far too much
emphasis on the role the chief at the expense of the rank-and-file men and
women who do the real work of law enforcement.
It is a bitter irony to us, that while Mayor Williams
wants to increase the pay of our Chief to the highest level in our area,
he has moved to reduce our pay three times. He sought to delay a
negotiated pay increase. He moved to freeze our in-step increases this
year and asked to have them frozen again in FY 2004. We want to thank the
members of this Council who resisted those efforts. We are glad that you
do not share the elitist philosophy of the Executive.
It is a convenient analogy to compare law enforcement
officers, with members of the military services because of our
paramilitary structure and organization. Unfortunately, that traditional
analogy is not very accurate. Police officers are given much more
discretion when performing their duties, and making decisions regarding
the life and liberty of the citizens they serve.
In fact, those officers who serve best are those who
work most effectively without supervision. Law enforcement agencies spend
many thousands of dollars evaluating each applicants' psychological,
emotional, and physical condition. When looking at the psychological and
emotional components of an applicant' s personality we are looking for
sound judgment and strong personal control because we know that he or she
must be able to think independently under extreme stress. We also know
that they will most likely be alone when called upon to exercise that
discretion, and to make decisions regarding the use of deadly force.
These qualities are critical to a good police officer.
They are also uncommon. Every federal and local law enforcement agency
screens for these qualities among the common pool of applicants. Those
agencies that offer the best combination of compensation and support will
always attract the best-qualified recruits.
The District of Columbia offers compensation that is
about average for the Metropolitan Washington area. The requirement that
our members reside within 25 air miles of the Capitol places them in some
of the most expensive areas in which to live. The demands made upon
members of the Metropolitan Police Department, are far above those
encountered in any other uniformed law enforcement service.
A recent survey of our membership, revealed that most
have little or no confidence that they will be supported by their
superiors or by the Department in the face of controversy surrounding
decisions they make on the street. That survey result confirmed what I
have been hearing from my fellow officers throughout the Department for
several years. Many of us feel we are called upon to make very hard
decisions at a pace that far exceeds the experience of most other
uniformed law enforcement agencies in our area. Further, that we are more
likely to be disciplined for making good-faith efforts to perform our
Despite years of intensive effort our Department has
not been able to reach its authorized strength. Today, we are losing
officers faster than new recruits can be hired. When the demands for
greater numbs of police officers is not backed by appropriate compensation
and support we are doomed to fail. Unless, one succumbs to the temptation
to lower standards in order to fill vacancies. That shortcut is not only
shortsighted it is dangerous to my fellow officers and the community we
protect. We want the most qualified and best-trained recruit officers to
join us on the streets of this community. It is in our interest as well as
If we apply the principles used to justify the proposed
increase for Chief Ramsey to the compensation now provided to
rank-and-file officers, we must reach the conclusion that they deserve an
increase even greater than that proposed for the Chief of Police. If our
city is prepared to pay what is necessary to secure the best Chief of
Police but is unwilling to compensate the officers who answer the calls
for service in the same manner it is choosing style over substance. It
will be a cheaper decision but it will be no solution.