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Government and People
|Mr. Chairman and Members of the Subcommittee:
Good afternoon. My name is Stephen D. Harlan. I am the Vice Chairman of the D.C. Financial Responsibility and Management Assistance Authority (Authority). I appreciate the opportunity to testify before the Subcommittee.
I am pleased to be here today to discuss what I believe is an exciting and optimistic time for the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) and the District of Columbia. Crime is at its lowest level in the past 20 years and we are very pleased to have a new, first rate Chief of Police.
At the outset, I would like to outline MPDs fiscal year 1999 consensus budget. Based on recent discussions with the Chief about his plans for the department including the reforms I will discuss during my testimony today, the consensus budget of $300 million would include approximately a $277 million local budget, and $23 million in federal, other, and intra-district funds. There are approximately $252 million for personal services and $48 million for nonpersonal services.
The personal services budget would contain $216 million in salaries and fringe benefits, including $19 million for a pay raise for sworn members, compensation units 1 and 2, and civilians. The budget also includes $15 million for overtime a much more realistic figure than the $9 million budgeted in FY 98.
The personal services budget assumes a sworn member level of 3,600 throughout the fiscal year, and a civilian level of 822. Two million in funding for 100 additional civilian employees should greatly assist MPD in its civilianization efforts.
MPD also received $10 million in management reform funds in fiscal year 1998. Chief Ramsey currently is finalizing a spending plan for this allocation.
Chief Ramsey is satisfied with the fiscal year 1999 budget recommendation, and believes that he can continue to move the department forward with the proposed budget without asking for additional resources at this time. This budget recommendation was part of the entire FY 1999 Financial Plan and Budget that was sent to the Congress on May 28, 1998, which was the subject of this morning's hearing.
Mr. Chairman, we are all aware that, in recent years, crime in the District was escalating out of control. From 1985 to 1996 homicides rose more than 150 percent, robberies were up by 50 percent and car thefts increased by nearly 500 percent.
Nearly 17 months ago, in December 1996, the Authority, in conjunction with the Mayor, the Chair and Judiciary Committee Chair of the D.C. Council, the Corporation Counsel, the U.S. Attorney, and the Chief Judge of the Superior Court, embarked on an effort to institute major reforms in MPD that would reduce crime and improve the quality of life in the District's neighborhoods. This group was formerly called the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) Partners.
During the last year and a half, the MOU Partnership was expanded to include other members of the criminal justice community who were key players in the reform efforts underway. The group expanded its focus beyond just MPD to include system-wide reforms and initiatives. The MOU group, renamed the Criminal Justice Coordinating Council (CJCC), now includes the Districts Chief Management Officer, Dr. Camille Cates Barnett, the D.C. Corrections Trustee, Mr. John L. Clark, and the Court Services and Offender Supervision Trustee, Mr. Jay A. Carver. In addition to its ongoing oversight of the MPD reforms, the CJCC is addressing such issues as information technology integration, juvenile justice reform, and cross-agency crime prevention initiatives, among others. The new CJCC agreement is included as an appendix. [See Bill 12-832.]
By the end of 1997, 12 months after the CJCC began their effort to improve the operations of the MPD, results were dramatic crime rates had decreased by 19 percent from the previous year. And the progress is continuing from January through May 1998, Part I crimes are down 22 percent over the same period last year. As of the end of the first quarter of 1998, overall crime is at the lowest level in 20 years.
While the crime statistics are impressive and clearly illustrate that significant progress has been made in reducing crime, numbers are meaningless to those citizens in the District who still live every day in fear who are afraid to sit on their porches, afraid to leave their homes after dark, afraid to let their kids play outside or walk to the corner store. We will not be successful in our efforts to address the District's crime problems until our citizens are no longer afraid to walk the streets. The CJCC is committed to continuing its work with MPD to eliminate that fear.
After a long and thorough search, our new Chief of Police, Charles Ramsey, was unanimously selected by the CJCC and overwhelmingly confirmed by the Council for the District of Columbia on April 20, 1998. The CJCC sought out Chief Ramsey because of his demonstrated commitment to the ideals of community policing and his impressive track record in Chicago.
There, Chief Ramsey had served 29 years on the Department and risen through the ranks holding the positions of the Deputy Chief of the Patrol Division, commander of the Narcotics Section, commander of a Patrol Division and a Detective Division, until he was appointed Deputy Superintendent of the Bureau of Staff Services. Chief Ramsey received numerous awards during his outstanding career, including the Gary P. Hayes award, which is the Police Executive Research Forum's most prestigious honor.
Chief Ramsey clearly did a terrific job in Chicago, where he was credited with designing and implementing a successful community policing model. The program was selected by management expert Tom Peters as the public sector model of excellence for providing quality customer service. Chief Ramsey has publicly stated that one of his top priorities is to lead the District's effort to design and implement community policing strategies tailored to the unique needs of the diverse communities in the District.
With this commitment, Chief Ramsey has actively engaged in the CJCC in several specific initiatives designed to prevent crimes, not just to respond to them. For example, a cooperative open air drug market initiative is underway with MPD, the Departments of Public Works, Human Services, Consumer and Regulatory Affairs, and many other local and federal agencies. This group is working to remove the drug dealers and buyers, clean up the neighborhoods where the markets have been, and bring much-needed social services to the communities to prevent re-establishment of the drug markets.
Another CJCC initiative, called the Community Justice Pilot Program, is being led by Mr. Jay Carver, the Court Services and Offender Supervision Trustee. This program engages the resources of the community, MPD, Pre-trial Services, Defense Services, Parole and Probation to increase the accountability of adult offenders on pretrial or post-trial release and improve public safety by working together to minimize recidivism and help these individuals re-integrate into their communities.
These are just two examples of a number of programs being implemented by the CJCC. The group also continues to work with MPD on its many initiatives to reduce crime, fear of crime, and general disorder, while establishing trust and respect in the community.
One of the highest priority initiatives for MPD continues to be increasing the police presence on the streets. In July, 1997, MPD began implementing the new Police Service Areas (PSAs), which were designed to balance workload in a way that enables the department to much more effectively deploy officers to the neighborhoods and to increase the police presence in the patrol functions. In support of the PSA model, the number of officers in patrol functions in the police districts has increased more than fifty percent since January 1997.
However, police presence remains inadequate, particularly considering that the MPD has the highest per capita number of officers of any major metropolitan police department in the country. While the PSAs structure generally has been well received by MPD police officers and community members, the Department has not been able to fully implement the staffing levels and operational reforms required to make it truly effective.
The increase in police presence that is required in the PSA model requires that the department accomplish three things:
Chief Ramsey has indicated his intention to dramatically improve the department's recruiting program. He is planning to engage in nationwide search programs to find the best and most qualified men and women to join the Metropolitan Police Department. His recruiting program will be conducted with great professionalism and emphasize performance capabilities, including higher education requirements.
Additionally, the department continues to pursue redeployments of officers from other positions which keep them from patrol duties. For example, MPD is assessing the operations of numerous Headquarters and support divisions in order to find ways to streamline operations and free up sworn members for patrol duty. The department is committed to redeploying as many sworn officers as possible to patrol and patrol-related duties.
To ensure that officers are able to stay on their PSAs, MPD is implementing many internal reforms to eliminate many of the causes of officer time off the streets. For example, administrative reasons, such as annual leave, disability leave, and administrative leave can have a dramatic impact on police presence. MPD estimates that there are approximately 50 officers on long-term sick leave who will never return to work. MPD is taking actions to retire these officers and to tighten controls on extended sick leave.
Additionally, MPD is implementing improvements in the arrest and booking procedures to enable officers to return to patrol as quickly as possible after an arrest, while ensuring that the necessary functions are performed. For example, MPD is working to implement a program in which arresting officers perform only minimal booking activities, reassigning those responsibilities to other station staff, and allowing the officers to return to patrol as soon as possible.
Also, for several months the Department has been working with U.S. Attorneys Office, the Office of the Corporation Counsel, and the Chief Judge of the D.C. Superior Court to make system-wide improvements in the charging process and other court-related activities which consume much of the PSA officers time.
One such reform is the officer-less papering program in which officers will no longer be required to appear for in-person interviews for every case as part of the charging process. Similar programs exist in every other major jurisdiction in the country. A pilot of this program is scheduled to begin on July 1, 1998 after the completion all of the report writing training necessary to make this program a success.
Another case processing reform currently being piloted is the Investigative CANS program. In this program, MPD and the U.S. Attorneys Office are working together to establish a system for managing investigative activities for current cases. This program is intended to help MPD manage its overtime burdens while ensuring that the U.S. Attorney's office is receiving the necessary support for building successful cases. This is not, however, a long-term solution to the ongoing investigative needs of MPD and the prosecutors. The CJCC is committed to supporting the U.S. Attorneys Office in its attempts to secure funding for its own investigative division, as exist in most other major metropolitan jurisdictions.
MPD conservatively estimates that these and the other case processing reforms underway could result in approximately two hundred thousand additional patrol hours in the short term. In the longer term, up to five hundred thousand additional patrol hours could be realized the equivalent of more than 250 additional police officers on the streets.
The third factor contributing to the police presence problem is the conduct, appearance, and actions of officers in the execution of their duties. MPD must
The community policing model requires that officers engage their communities to identify priorities, marshal resources, and work cooperatively to solve problems before they result in crimes. This community, problem-solving partnership is the key to crime prevention. Reactive response to crimes that have already occurred will never outpace the ever-escalating crime rates and will not instill the confidence and security in the public that our citizens demand and deserve.
In order to establish this partnership, patrol officers need the right tools, equipment, and capabilities. MPD must enhance its training to ensure that every officer knows how to work effectively with the community. Many of these officers have never been exposed to the community policing model. They were trained to respond to crime, not to prevent it. If we want to change the culture from the old enforcement- only model, we must address the fundamental building blocks, like training.
That means that MPD must also commit to performance guidelines for its officers. Chief Ramsey has indicated that he is working on individual performance standards for all ranks in the department. Further, he has established a task force to recommend a program for in-service physical ability evaluations. Chief Ramsey has also expressed his intention to impose education requirements for new recruits and current members, and to pursue new tuition reimbursement programs, like the federal Police Corps program, to help officers meet those new requirements.
Additionally, Chief Ramsey has publicly announced his intentions to impose restrictions on the types of off-duty, secondary employment in which officers may engage, in order to eliminate potential conflicts of interest and minimize the appearance of impropriety. These types of performance guidelines will be a critical part of changing the department's operations and reputation in the community.
Further, in order to protect and promote this police-community partnership, MPD must have an effective citizen complaint process for receiving and resolving citizen allegations of officer misconduct. There are two concurrent efforts underway in this area. MPD is working to finalize a new, internal citizen complaint process that will centralize responsibilities for receiving and resolving citizen complaints. This program will provide better access to aggrieved citizens and faster resolution of cases. The D.C. Council is also working on legislation for an external citizen complaint process, scheduled for final reading in mid-July.
The CJCC has been involved during the design of these citizen complaint programs. The CJCC wants to ensure that the new citizen complaint program is designed to prevent the same inefficiencies and complications associated with the former programs. It is imperative that the citizen complaint process guarantees the fair and expeditious resolution of cases, while protecting the rights of all parties involved. An effective citizen complaint process will bolster public confidence in the department and ensure that all officers conduct themselves appropriately in the execution of their duties.
Distrust of officers and the department as a whole continues to be a significant hurdle that MPD is working to resolve. This problem was exacerbated as a result of the recent allegations of widespread corruption in the department. The CJCC members remain concerned about integrity and accountability issues in MPD. However, we are confident these issues will be addressed through the on-going, comprehensive investigations of the MPD by the Inspector General, the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI), the U.S. Attorney's Office, MPDs Internal Affairs, and the Council of the District of Columbia. We will continue to monitor the results of these investigations as they are developed. We are certain that Chief Ramsey will resolve these issues and restore the public's confidence in the integrity of MPD and its members.
In addition to improving the police presence on the streets, MPD must also continue to address the persistent homicide problem that plagues the city. While the number of homicides in 1997 was at a 10 year low of 301, and the May 1998 statistics show an even greater decrease this year, there are still too many homicides in the Nation's Capitol. And while MPD increased its case closure rate from approximately 57 percent in 1996 to 70 percent in 1997, that is still not enough. Also, MPD has not solved several high profile cases, such as the Starbucks case, which occurred 10 months ago, and some of the Petworth cases one of which took place in 1996.
While I am aware that the police department and the FBI are working diligently to close these complex cases and have made some progress, the fact that months and, in some cases, years have gone by without closing the cases does not inspire public confidence in the department. Homicides continue to be one of the most-cited reasons that the citizens are living in fear.
One recent action that should help improve MPDs ability to close homicide cases is the appointment of a highly qualified Chief Medical Examiner for the District Dr. Jonathon Arden. Dr. Arden assumed responsibility for the Districts Medical Examiner's Office (Office) on April 15, 1998. We expect that he will bring about major improvements in the Office. The CJCC, Janet Reno, the Attorney General, and Dr. Camille Cates Barnett, the Chief Management Officer, all played key roles in convincing Dr. Arden to accept the position. We are committed to providing Dr. Arden with the resources and support he needs to be successful and to ensure that improvements in the Medical Examiners Office are lasting.
The CJCC is now turning its attention to the much-needed forensic support that will provide MPD with the tools to close more cases and build better cases for prosecution. We will investigate all options and determine what is most feasible and can meet the Districts needs. For example, we may investigate the possibility of establishing a regional facility if that is what would best meet MPDs needs, as well as those of the surrounding jurisdictions. The CJCC will continue to investigate all options diligently this is a critical element in improving the public safety situation in the District.
But forensic support is not the only gap in the infrastructure. MPD still suffers from a lack of sufficient facilities and equipment. The buildings are in a state of severe disrepair. Many of them lack adequate air conditioning. The paint is peeling from the walls. The plumbing is decrepit. The list goes on. I invite the members of this committee and their staff to tour these facilities with me and the other members of the CJCC and experience the deplorable working conditions that our police officers are enduring. I am confident you will agree that we cannot expect the members of MPD to perform under such conditions.
The current restrictions on the use of take-home vehicles for command staff present another obstacle. In order to protect the safety of MPD members and allow them to do their jobs effectively, they must be able to respond to emergencies at a moment's notice. It is unacceptable to expect senior command staff to respond to crime scenes and other emergencies in their personal vehicles. This situation presents a significant potential threat to their personal safety. I encourage this committee to work with Chief Ramsey to develop appropriate guidelines on the use of take-home vehicles to effectively reduce the risk to citizens of the District that this broad prohibition causes.
Furthermore, MPD and the other members of the public safety community continue to operate with inadequate and outdated field technologies. Together with the Chief Management Officer and the new Chief Technology Officer, Ms. Suzanne J. Peck, the CJCC is investigating options for a new state-of-the-art wireless communications system that will allow all public safety agencies to communicate on the same system. There is also a computer-aided dispatch (CAD) initiative that will integrate all calls for service, both emergency and non-emergency, through a central dispatch center. This type of integrated infrastructure will dramatically improve service to the Districts citizens.
Almost all of the reforms and initiatives I have discussed so far require enabling information technologies. MPD has taken the lead in this area and is developing an information technology infrastructure and information system that can serve as the hub for the other criminal justice and public safety agencies in the city. MPD is already testing the selected records management system and supporting data base that will serve as the data hub.
The Court Services and Offender Supervision Trustee is leading a CJCC subcommittee on information technology integration. MPD is participating in this and the new Chief Technology Officer is getting engaged with this effort to help promote inter-agency coordination. MPD continues to move forward with the initial records management system, the mobile data computers (MDC), the paperless reporting system, the investigative software packages, and the potential link to an integrated CAD system.
The CJCC is committed to ensuring that all the public safety and criminal justice agencies are involved in the migration from the current, antiquated technologies to a new state-of-the-art, integrated information system that will be a model for cities nationwide. But this is a costly undertaking. MPD and the other CJCC members are researching every possible source for funding this endeavor, as well as the many other topics I have discussed.
The CJCC also recently convened their second two-day session devoted to exploring issues and opportunities in the District's criminal justice system and planning our agenda for the months ahead. We held our first session in January of this year and our second session in mid-April. We have benefited greatly from support we have received from the National Institute of Justice (NIJ), the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, and other important criminal justice practitioners and scholars from around the country. We look forward to continuing our partnership with these individuals and organizations.
The CJCC is bringing a new sense of energy and commitment to addressing the Districts crime problems. There is a feeling that, for the first time, the criminal justice agencies and other District government agencies are beginning to truly collaborate on issues, and to share information and responsibility for solving some of the Districts crime problems. The level of cooperation and collaboration should continue to improve with the on-going implementation of the City-wide management reforms. We have laid the foundation to build effective and lasting partnerships among these agencies. We must now focus our attention on more effectively bringing the community into these partnerships.
While it is clear that progress has been made, there is still a great deal of work to be done to reach our goal of a fully effective, well managed police department and a safer City. The Authority is committed to working with Chief Ramsey and the other CJCC members to ensure that major reform in the police department occurs. The Districts residents deserve a quality of life that makes the nations capital one of the safest cities in the country. We are committed to that goal.
Mr. Chairman, that concludes my testimony. I would be happy to respond to any questions that you might wish to ask.
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