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Government and People
GOVERNMENT OF THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA
|Assigned to PSAs||1,584|
|Focus Mission Team||124|
|Crime Scene Search||63|
|PSA Support/Customer Service (District Station)||181|
|ROCS and Operational Services||40|
|Institute of Police Science||82|
|Other Administrative Units||27|
|Fraternal Order of Police||4|
|Recruits in the Academy||102|
|Limited Duty and Non-Contact||158|
|Extended Sick Leave/Extended Administrative Leave||118|
|Total Staffing Level||3,514|
There are a total of 2,250 sworn members assigned to patrol districts. Of that number, 89% are either on patrol or working in the neighborhoods supporting the PSA officers in fighting crime (includes PSAs, detectives, focus mission team, and crime scene search). A total of 181 sworn members are working in the district station performing functions like processing prisoners and providing direct service to citizens. Only 58 or 2.6% of the sworn personnel assigned to patrol districts are performing administrative work.
How many officers are actually working on a PSA. In 1997, only 808 members were assigned to PSAs. Today, there are 1,584 members assigned to a PSA. This is with a lower overall headcount (3,514 vs. 3,677). The consultants identified as their goal to have 1,543 people assigned to PSAs. Their number included sergeants, detectives and vice officers. The Department has exceeded this number without using detectives or vice officers and even after taking out members who are on details, unavailable or limited duty and non-contact.
This increase was accomplished by reassigning members to PSAs and reducing the number of members on extended sick and administrative leave. So, not only has the number of assigned members increased, so has the number of members actually working on a PSA.
Booz-Allen highlighted in their 1997 baseline analysis the number of members unavailable for work either because some type of extended leave, regular days off or vacation. Their analysis showed that of 808 members assigned to a PSA only 577 were actually on duty for patrol. It does not appear that they took into account vacation and holidays. Factoring that type of time off, the 1997 number drops to 500. Using their methodology, today there are 978 officers, on average, on duty on any given day on PSAs. This number takes into account that an officer only works five days out of seven and has an average of 33 vacation days and holidays in a year. Table 2 shows the impact of days off and vacation days on staff availability.
Table 2: Determining the Number of Officers Available on Any Given Day for PSA Assignment.
|Regular Days Off||203||19%||400||25%|
|On Duty on a PSA||500||47%||978||62%|
Note: The assigned number excludes details out or personnel on extended leaves.
Not only has the number of members actually working on a PSA increased by 478 over the 1997 baseline, those factors that can be affected by MPDC have also reduced over the past two years. The number of members detailed out of a PSA or unavailable due to extended administrative or sick leave was reduced. These numbers also provide an indication of the relief factor that must be considered. We need to have 1.5 officers available for one seven days a week assignment to ensure complete coverage.
Today, MPDC has 1,584 officers assigned to a PSA. This averages to 19 officers per PSA with a range between 12 and 23 officers. There will always be some number of these officers unavailable for duty. And, other officers will be on day off or vacation.
How was the allocation of officers across PSAs done? Basically, the allocation methodology was to determine the proportion of priority 1 and 2 calls and Part I Index Crimes for each PSA. A weight of seriousness was assigned to each crime and calls for service were also weighted. This formula provided a proportion of serious crime and calls for service for each PSA. This proportion was then multiplied by the number of members available for assignment to PSA to determine the number of members per PSA. So, for example if PSA 101 accounted for .013 of the weighted calls for service and Part I Crimes, then that PSA was assigned .013 of the PSA officers.
This formula did not directly take into account Part II crimes like prostitution, drug dealing, disorderly conduct, or drinking in public. It also did not factor in time required to respond to calls for service, work with residents, problem solve, or perform foot and bike patrol. This approach only redistributed a given number of members; it did not question how many officers are needed citywide to respond to and prevent crime and disorder. The formula merely divided the pie up but it did not answer the question of how big the pie should be in the first place.
In summary, the basic problems with the current PSA manpower allocation methodology are it did not allow for
Manpower need is determined by the amount of work being done and the time it takes to do that work. A manpower allocation model must also take the above factors into account to determine adequately and fairly the number of officers a PSA requires.
Because the PSA staffing numbers were not achievable, Mandatory Minimum Staffing was set in August 1997 that stated 1,461 officers and sergeants was required for the 83 PSAs. This minimum staffing was not based on a workload formula. It is these numbers that the community have come to see as the number of officers that each PSA should have working every day. However, as the previous analysis showed this is not possible.
Making sure officers are working when crime is occurring. First, the current allocation of manpower must be used efficiently. This means that officers must be working during the time that crime and calls for service are occurring. Under the original PSA model, sergeants were allowed to set tours of duty and days off for their officers. This often resulted in a significant number of the officers working days with Friday and Saturday or Sunday and Monday off. Crime however usually peaks during the evening into the midnight hours and on Friday through Sunday morning. These are the very times when many officers were not working.
There continues to be an imbalance across the days of week and time of day. This situation also contributes to community residents asking where are the police. Because many of the officers are working the same time as most other people, the officers are not visible when the residents are home and out in the neighborhood. In order to ensure that officers are working during high crime periods, Chief Ramsey is requiring set tour of duty and days off for every member of Operational Services. For PSA officers and sergeants this means that the percentage of officers and sergeants working a tour of duty and days are set based on workload measures. The tables below show the planned distribution of officers across time and days of week.
Table 3: Planned Total Percentage of PSA Officers Working on Each Shift
Table 4: Planned Total Percentage of PSA Officers in Each Days Off Group
|Days Off||Percentage Off||Percentage Working|
Officers will identify their preference for a tour and days off and their assignment will be made by seniority. It is acknowledged that by redistributing PSA officers across time and days that some officers may be moved from their current PSA. This change of PSAs is an unfortunate by product of ensuring that officers are present when they are needed.
Increasing the number of officers assigned to PSAs. Over the course of the next 18 months additional officers will be added to PSAs. These officers will come from hiring 190 civilians to replace sworn members doing administrative work and from increasing the sworn staffing levels from 3,514 to 3,800. These additional 526 officers will be distributed over PSAs and some specialized operational units. The table below outlines how these 526 officers will be added. It must be noted that the hiring of civilians is dependent on developing job specifications, recruiting, funds for hiring, and appropriate training. Details on this process will be provided under a separate report. The increase in sworn personnel is dependent on funding, recruiting and hiring.
Table 5: Increasing Sworn Strength
|Projected Number of Officers||Source of Additional Officers||Comments|
|50||Decrease the number of officers on limited duty.||Limited duty is fluid number. There are policies and procedures in place to move members off of limited duty as required.|
|40||Civilianization of Corporate Support (the positions identified are 18-HS, 7-Fleet, 15-Adult Processing)||The 18 for Human Services and 7 for Fleet is dependent on contracts.|
|50||Civilianizing Communications (replace all sworn with civilians or with limited duty)||Dependent on funding, recruitment, hiring, and training.|
|100||Civilianization of District Support (this is half of support number or combination of using limited duty in support functions)||Depending on funding, recruitment, hiring, and training.|
|286||Bring strength up to 3,800||Dependent on funding, recruitment, hiring, and training.|
During this same time, the Office of Organizational Development with Operational Services is developing a manpower allocation model that will help determine the number of officers required on each PSA. As part of this effort, an examination of differential response to calls for service will be conducted. Off loading calls for service to alternative responses, like telephone reporting, detectives as first responders to certain crimes, and allowing officers to schedule appointments with citizens, will free officers time for other activities. The target date for the completion of this work is the end of this calendar year.
PSA boundaries will also be examined. Workload measures will allow the department to make suitable adjustments to staffing. It is not so much the size of the PSA but the workload and ensuring that an appropriate number of officers are working in that PSA to handle the workload.
The problem of determining how many officers are needed on every PSA is a complicated one. It involves measuring workload not just by the amount of work but also the time it takes to do that work. Consequently, specifying all the work a PSA officer is expected to do and the time needed for each activity is important. As well as, implementing ways to reduce the time it takes for officers to do certain jobs. Initiatives like automated field reporting, alternative response to calls for service, and improved efficiency in the papering and court processes will all increase the time an officer can spend on his PSA.
BEFORE THE COMMITTEE ON THE JUDICIARY
JULY 13, 1999
By the close of today's hearing, you will, undoubtedly, have heard testimony calling for changes to the flawed PSA program, citizens seeking better community policing, calls for more officers in uniform etc. All of these suggestions would bring about some minor improvement in police service in the District, but all represent what is essentially nibbling around the edges of what really ails this department. No matter how much fine-tuning is done to the MPD, the department will not significantly improve and will probably continue to decline in quality, unless the Chief of Police takes strong action to rid this department of worthless, non-performing police officers who are the predictable result of almost twenty years of political correctness, racial divisiveness, and managerial timidity.
I believe that the primary reason there is insufficient police protection in Washington is that the MPD is hamstrung from top to bottom by a rancid personnel stew that is hopelessly flawed. Due to attrition and poor hiring, the MPD now has fewer than 90() officers whom I would describe as first rate. But they do not dominate this department. They are vastly outnumbered by approximately 1400 officers who range from satisfactory to poor performers. Then, you still have some 1200 officers whom I characterize as complete and utter trash. They are black, white, and Hispanic; officers and officials up to the rank of Assistant Chief; males and females. It is this final group that is sucking the life out of this department. They are causing first-rate officers to leave the force, and they are huge contributors to the citizens' feelings that they are not safe in this city. I would go so far as to say that by their apathy, misconduct, and malfeasance, they represent a clear and present danger to the public safety of this city and to their fellow officers.
The mindset of these officers is that they don't have to get to work on time, and when they arrive they don't have to do any work. They don't respect authority; they talk back to their supervisors, and even threaten them with bodily harm. These officers will accept no discipline, no matter how obvious their misconduct. Diligent white officials who attempt to discipline them are attacked as racist monsters; diligent black officials are attacked as incompetents and Uncle Toms. But the vast majority of officials simply chose to look the other way to avoid becoming the target of the intramural nastiness that is killing this department. Still others cut shameful deals with the non- performers to buy some labor peace. The police union, which can't decide whether it wants to be a part of the solution or a part of the problem, goes to the mat for its members, no matter how disgraceful their conduct. Even worse, the senior management of the MPD coddles the union, cuts deals, and fails, time and time again, to set, and enforce, an acceptable standard of conduct and performance for all of its officers. Chief Ramsey did not create this mess, he inherited it. But it is now his problem to fix, and he has to be much bolder and less tolerant of incompetence if he wants to turn this department around. He seems to be caught in a numbers game that is doomed to failure: trying to put more officers on the street, even though many of those officers have absolutely no interest in serving the citizens adequately. We are getting wild overtime spending a- la Larry Soulsby, a ton of PR spin, and practically no substantive change for the long term good of this department. The kind of blatant dysfunction that literally gushes from virtually every unit in this police department can only exist and flourish with the tolerance and acquiescence of senior management. Let me give you a few present day examples of what I mean:
The simple truth is that not everyone can or should be a police officer in the 21st century. The MPD proves that on a daily basis. You can throw all the money and resources you want at this department, but until this department rids itself of the human poison that is systemically robbing this department of its life, it will be "business as usual." A better paid, equipped, and motivated force of 2600 would better serve us all than the current sorry combination of 3600. It is time for this Chief to re-instill the high standards and discipline required of any successful pare-military force. Otherwise, we will all be sitting in this same room, years from now, debating the exact same public safety problems that we have today, only worse.
COUNCIL OF THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA
JUDICIARY PUBLIC ROUNDTABLE
JULY 13, 1999
Good evening, Councilmembers and staff. My name is Sally Byington of 1231 Maryland Avenue N.E. I shall address your agenda topic of Manpower Allocations within Patrol Service Areas. Referenced throughout my presentation will be facts from an article in the National Institute of Justice Journal, "Community Policing: Chicago's Experience" by Susan M. Hartnett and Wesley G. Skogan", April, 1999.
As you all know, Chief Ramsey and many on his team today came from Chicago, with most of these newcomers having had law enforcement experience at Chicago Police Department or in other local or state agencies. Prior to his coming in early 1998, Booz-Allen & Hamilton and Control Board Member Steve Harlan were the most recent de facto leaders of D.C. Metropolitan Police Department (MPD).
Throughout all the chaos of the past decade plus, citizen activists have been imploring the Council, the Feds, the media, civic groups, faith groups, neighbors, families, and Lord God Almighty for HELP to reduce crime and its accompanying fear that gripped most of the residents, visitors, and business people in our Nation's Capital.
So, with the Chief and, subsequently, a new mayor came great expectations. In the ensuing months many changes took place at MPD and other agencies, some successful and some, not too successful. Today, in the hearts of most hope seems to dwell, though diminished and more effectual -- not because of changed leadership but because of the prayers and actions of people and the foundations of our government.
In trying to assess D.C.'s plan for public safety, I decided to peruse NIJ's Journal's article about Chicago and compare theirs with ours since many of us had been there last summer with MPD officials.
Chicago Alternative Policing Strategy (CAPS) is in its sixth year, plus a year of planning. When its model was rolled out, it was for an experimental phase in 5 prototype areas of the city's 25 police districts, matched with 5 companion areas. In place were long term, research plans and in-depth assessments and evaluation teams, appropriately trained patrol officers permanently assigned to fixed beats, new administrative mechanisms for coordinating the delivery of city services, and financial support from mixed sources.
Residents have played a leading role since the model called for the formation of problem-solving partnerships between police and citizens. Monthly beat meetings and advisory committees were formed in each district and community activists in every district were encouraged to become involved, given knowledge of the program and its methodology, kept abreast with crime data, and were one subject group of regular surveys (they "have been less optimistic about the extent of citizen involvement in problem solving", pg. 9). 12,000 neighbors have been trained by paid trainers and about 2-3% of city residents participate in at least one meeting per year, with the numbers increasing yearly.
The officers had a dispatch policy which was revised and enabled the officers to stay in their beats for most of their on-duty time, supervised by a specially trained sergeant. At monthly community meetings a representative of each shift attended. And, Chicago hired more than 1,000 police officers in the past five years. Officer dissatisfaction had to be overcome as did police perceptions of the program, which is reported to be more positive.
You may be wondering what is the relevance of all these facts? It is because elements of CAPS are in D.C.s -- some with structure, some with purpose, some from hindsight rather than foresight, and some sorely missing.
The Chief has told us not to get "frustrated" and that D.C.'s problems were a long time in the making and can't be solved overnight. I could have stayed away today and fretted. Maybe by coming I've frustrated you, but, one of these days, we've got to get it all together and reveal a complete master plan for public safety that's not just for the Crime Coordinating Committee, the Mayor or the Chief to know and see.
I continue to stand on some of my earlier statements that with the present manpower situation 83 is too many PSAs, some PSA boundaries need to be re-drawn, robbing from Peter to supply or pay Paul produces negative results (e.g. seizing marked PSA cars for other efforts), expediency cannot be substituted for excellence, performance standards for community policing officers should be established with incentives, rewards, and community input built in, and it takes longer to rebuild than build. Let's try to move forward with more dialogue, truthfulness, and forthrightness and re-build our city's public safety programs.
National Institute of Justice World Wide Web Site
TESTIMONY BEFORE THE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE OF THE COUNCIL OF THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA BY
"METROPOLITAN POLICE DEPARTMENT MANAGEMENT REFORM ACT OF 1999" BILL 13-42
JULY 13, 1999
Mr. Chairman, Members of the Committee:
Thank you for the opportunity to appear before your committee. My name is James Lively. I am the President of the MPD Second District Citizens Advisory Council and a member of Chief Ramsey's Citizens Advisory Council. I am also an Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner for South Glover Park. I serve as a Crime Solvers Board Member and I am a member of Chairman Brazil's Judiciary Citizens Advisory Council.
Community policing is a must to effectively improve public safety within the neighborhoods which make up our city. All levels of the DC government and DC residents must buy into and implement this concept if it is to succeed.
I see and hear about resistance to community policing and public safety programs in the District. For example, when the new Mayor was elected, a Public Safety Transition Team was formed with members from throughout the city to identify and recommend solutions to the new administration. As of July 1999, the report of this committee has not been released. Team members have been unable to get a copy. Who or what are the roadblocks that prevent the release of this report? Are concerns about past job performance and public perception of the effectiveness of various departments and agencies preventing the release of the report? How can the community be called on time and again to identify and work on resolving problems when no actions are taken on problems identified in the past?
Throughout the DC government performance standards for periodic ratings and performance bonuses must include criteria pertaining to community policing. We must work as a team to achieve the status of the best city in the US and the World. Secrecy, turf protection, too much of the same old buddy network will not get us there. Total teamwork cannot be achieved if city managers are afraid to identify and work with both citizens and city departments to improve public safety.
Resources are being provided through the same network with the same results -- nothing being accomplished. Why are grant dollars being awarded and utilized in the same way when little or no results are shown?
It is time to look at new innovations and ideas in the awarding of grant money in the area of public safety. Perhaps we should consider establishing residential districts similar to the business districts which have been established. Start a pilot program: pick a community within each Ward and establish a Residential Improvement District (RID) - to improve public safety. Set aside X percent of the Real Property Tax and couple it with grant money to provide the resources for the pilot program. The objective would be to contract out law enforcement, trees, street and curb repairs, trash and recycle collection, etc. This would bring government operations to the grass roots level. The program could be used as a test program to effectively measure job performance of contract employees vs. government employees.
Specifically with regard to the Metropolitan Police Department, I have the following comments:
I have previously been advised that sworn officers do not have to serve a probationary period after a promotion to ensure that the employee can successfully perform the tasks of the new position. If the personnel rules on promotions still do not include a probationary period for performance after a promotion, than action should be take to revise the rules.
I have seen a marked improvement in policing in the 2nd District since the PSA concept was implemented. However, I feel that there are too many PSAs, thus creating the requirement for too many managers and spreading the "worker bees" too thin. The number and size of the PSAs should be closely reviewed with the objective of combining some to make available more personnel per PSA and reduce managerial expense.
I support a continuing education program for our police personnel. Educational requirements of 2 to 4 years of college should be phased in over a period of 5 years for new recruits.
I support a revision of outside employment standards for police officers to prohibit them from engaging in outside employment at ABC licensed establishments where alcohol is consumed on the premises.
When Title 23 of the DC Code is amended regarding the deposit of currency seized by the MPD, consideration should be given to making available a percentage of the funds to support the Citizen Advisory Council to the District Commanders and the Chief of Police and the D. C. Crime Solvers program.
I support amending Title 23 of the DC Code to establish a conditional retirement category for MPD members who are subject to disciplinary investigation with monetary penalties to be levied against the retirement annuity if the misconduct is confirmed by the investigation.
Finally, I suggest that the Committee consider compiling a listing of the many ideas and suggestions regarding public safety which have been presented in similar hearings over the past five years - have any been acted on? Should we continue to appear before you time and again with the same or similar suggestions?
Again, thank you for the opportunity to present my views.
For years the residents of patrol service area (PSA) 106 have worked cooperatively with First District police officers in order to deal with issues affecting the quality of life in the community. This forum provides us an opportunity to express our desires for change in the way the city goes about policing. The manpower concerns of PSA 106 have been known for some time by our Commander Kim Dine, and his staff, yet for numerous reasons, the residents and the police department have not been able to reach agreement about the service the community receives. Almost always it seems that the desires of the residents exceeds the police departments ability to meet or exceed our expectations. Although we believe our expectations are well within reason, still we are left with less versus more.
PSA 106 is primarily a residential area that is bounded by H Street NE, D Street NE, 7th Street NE, and 2nd Street NW. According to the U.S. Census Bureau report for 1998, there were 1992 residents in census tract 83.1, which includes most of PSA 106. The PSA is heavily impacted by calls for assistance emanating from Union Station, and although Union Station has it's own security force, station security has no powers of arrest, or ability to enforce the law. Usually uniformed off-duty MPDC officers provide the true police presence. They, however, require the assistance of on duty officers who transport of offenders caught at the station. The time spent at Union Station is significant, and it takes already limited resources off the street. As the situation exists now, community policing that the Chief has touted as a goal in this city is non existent in PSA 106.
Currently there are supposed to be 12 active officers assigned, although, at least at the time of this statement, one or two officers still had not been placed on active duty. In recent years PSA 106 has had 17-19 officers, and that is the agreed upon goal of Commander Dine and the residents. How and when we will reach that goal is a big question. The usual patrol is two officers, each in their own patrol car. There is also a motorcycle, and two bicycles. In order to fulfill the goal of "community policing" it will be necessary to improve upon the approximately 1 to 1000 officer to resident ratio now in place. What we have now is a response team with two officers to serve the residents, and satisfy the demands of commercial businesses in, and around, Union Station.
I have personally represented my PSA in focus groups and training for community policing partnerships, and what I have learned is that many officers are fed up with training for community policing. They really don't seem to believe that this initiative will ever bear fruit, although it has been talked about for years. What they understand is that they have code 1 and 2 calls which get the most immediate attention. If times allows, other community issues such as open air drug markets will get attention. When those feelings of pessimism exist within the police ranks, it becomes a pretty tough sell to make the citizens believe that we will ever see a truly effective police presence in our neighborhoods. With this scenario, the relationship between the citizens and the police department could be characterized as having expectations unfulfilled and promises broken. Like the officers, we have heard that change is coming, but our optimism is being tested while we wait, and wait.
In order to get positive results from the rank and file in the MPDC, the officer on the street needs to understand first what the priorities are, and have those priorities sought after my management. For example, the New York City model has emphasized action against quality of life crimes such as public consumption of alcohol and urination. Despite the fact that D.C. seeks to incorporate that model into our own, PSA 106 citizens fail to see a positive change. Present laws state that officers must themselves witness infractions, such as public urination, in order to cite the offender. Our laws must help the police do their job. A citizens compliant should be enough to get a citation. If we can bear witness to more serious offenses, why are these minor issues off limits? Until changes are made citizens will continue to complaint about the infractions we see everyday, and the officer on the street will continue the cat and mouse game of trying to catch drunks. It's a terrible waste of time, and it puts residents at odds with our officers. However, a community beat officer has the ability to see the community as would a resident. He or she has the means to take notice of quality of life crimes and proactively address other community issues. This occurs when the police have an active role to play in the community that goes beyond dealing with emergencies.
Our police officers must be dedicated to the job and serve on the force because they want to help people, and solve problems. It is questionable that many of our officers are on the force for that reason. Most law enforcement agencies in the metro area forbid outside employment because of the conflict of interest. The question becomes can an officer effectively do their job when their earning power, and ultimately their quality of life, is dependent upon outside employment? Police overtime outside of the department has become a very lucrative way for many officers to supplement their income. I personally know MPDC officers who provide security at dance clubs and/or bars in exchange for extra pay. Ideally the police force should be represented by individuals who view their public servant role as a call to action, not a means for a big paycheck. Indeed, the officers of this city should be paid a decent living wage for risking their lives, but money should not be the primary incentive for joining the force. Other incentives must be in place.
When you look at how few incentives there are to being an officer in the nation's capital versus Virginia or Maryland, the police department and city leaders need to reevaluate how we recruit and retain quality personnel. To start, clear and consistent direction from the Chief and his commanders would allow our officers to approach their work knowing the department supports their efforts. For instance, it is wrong to philosophically commit to community policing when it is obvious that responding to emergencies is what the department is capable of. There needs to be adherence to higher standards of quality in recruiting officers. A college education and/or an honorable discharge from the military would be a nice start. Thorough background checks is also a plus. We all know that has not been the case in the past. Officers pay might also be raised so the MPDC can compete with other area jurisdictions. This could prove a hard sell since citizens don't see that we are getting much for our money right now. However, a pay raise may cut down on the need for outside employment, and interest officers we might otherwise lose to Maryland and Virginia. Housing incentives, (in area's other than the most blighted neighborhoods), are another means to attract officers to the MPDC. The city owns many properties that could be made available for this purpose. Making that housing stock available to officers would be an ideal situation for the MPDC, and the community. In the same way that civilian home ownership usually improves the quality in an area, it is best that officers also have a stake in the improvement of the District. If they desire to, but can't afford to live here, then all we are doing is borrowing them for an 8 hour tour of duty to deal with our problems. Once that tour is over, we are once again on our own.
What dismays us in PSA 106 the most about our police force is how powerless they often behave when it comes to taking on matters both large and small. For example, PSA 106 has many streets that are restricted to buses and vehicles larger than 1 1/4 ton. There are visible signs posted throughout the neighborhood to warn drivers. We had a difficult time getting officers to enforce this law despite the fact that tour buses and other large vehicles, including semi's, were making daily trips through the neighborhood. It is important to the residents that enforcement take place because the overweight vehicles are damaging many of the 100 plus year-old homes. The difficulty came in getting the police to assume a "can do" attitude and enforce the law. When called upon to observe the obvious infractions, our sector lieutenant initially tried to convince us that the police required weighing equipment, which they don't have, in order to enforce the law. The citizens pointed out that trucks have their weight information posted on the vehicle. We also made the case that 1 1/4 tons is less than, for example, the weight of a Chevy Suburban. If the truck isn't making a delivery in the PSA, and it's larger than a Chevy Suburban, then it's too big. In short, the officers initially balked at the idea of enforcing laws that are already on the books, and instead made excuses about why they couldn't exercise their own judgment. There needs to be a proactive "can do" attitude instilled into this department. If that means that younger, less experienced officers are promoted over officers who have been tainted by the system, so be it. We need officers who believe in making change, and who know how to get the job done.
We believe that more officers can, and will make a difference in PSA 106, and throughout the city, as long as those officers are allowed to take ownership of the area's they patrol. That requires that they get out of the car and see the PSA from the perspective of the residents. Merely responding to calls is not community policing, and it would be a sham to try to pass it off as such. Real community policing must involve in-person contact between officers and citizens in situations other than taking police reports. The council has said we need more officers, the citizens of this city pay stiff taxes to support the recruitment of the best talent, provide the best training, and equipment. The problem isn't a lack of money, but perhaps a lack of resolve.
The Adams Morgan gang welfare could be better understood and eventually wiped out if there was a real commitment to ridding the area of that problem. What makes a gang-banger fell at ease to open fire in public? It appears to be the lack of fear that he will get caught. Helen Foster-El, might still be alive if there was a heightened police presence before the violence rather than a response to it. So far my PSA has not had similar outburst, however there is nothing to prevent anyone from actin with brazen disregard for the safety of others. After all, there are 1,000 residents to potentially create 1,000 problems for each of the two PSA officers. That's quite a workload. My PSA has too few officers, with too many demands on their time to make a real difference. We appreciate the work they do but we think we deserve better. After all, this is the capital of the United States of America. The center of the free world, and we all should be proud to be here. This city should be an example of how policing should be done. Is it the best we can do to have a city wide police response team? We hope not.
PSA 106 Citizens Coordinator
Capitol Hill is a residential neighborhood east of the Capitol. Traditionally, its boundaries were considered those of the historic district, extending from the Freeway to F Street, NE, and eastward to approximately 14th Street. In recent years, however, there has been an influx of new home owners bordering the historic area who identify themselves as Capitol Hill residents,. In the near future, Capitol Hill will be bordered on both the south and east sides by the Anacostia River, and on the north by the old District boundary of Florida Avenue. Realtors, the driving force of community identity already call this extended area Capitol Hill.
The Capitol Hill area is serviced by two police districts, the first (ID) and the fifth (5D). This duality presents a frustrating and sometimes serious problem for residents. Borders between police districts are comparable to iron walls, preventing communication between personnel from separate districts. This is not a criticism of police officers in either ID or 5D, who are all fine officers with a professional, courteous demeanor and a genuine interest in protecting the public. The problem is structural.
Each police district, not only ID and 5D, has a subtle, but distinct sub-culture. Each has its own traditions, its own station hierarchy, a sense of camaraderie with district colleagues, and inevitably, a competitive spirit toward other districts. This is human nature, not something that can be regulated or ordered away. But it presents problems to residents in a community split between two police units. In recognition of the problems inherent in divisiveness, three Regional Operation Command centers (ROC) were established in September 1998. ROC Central oversees both ID and 5D as well as 3D, but the additional bureaucratic overlay has minimal effect on the day to day patterns in the community.
"Community policing" is the term applied by MPD and other police departments nationwide to an approach whereby police and citizens work closely together to combat crime. In July 1997, D.C., upon the recommendation of the consulting firm Booz-Allen, replaced the former scout-car beat system with larger boundaried units, known as PSA's. [There is confusion concerning this acronym. Chief Larry Soulsby, in his June 19, 1997 testimony for the Public Roundtable on MPD District and Beat Boundary Restructuring, defined PSA's as "Police Service Areas," whereas Interim Chief Sonya Proctor, in a December 19, 1997 congressional hearing defined them as "Patrolled Service Areas." A sergeant in Chief Ramsey's office declared it "Patrol Service Areas."]
To ensure accountability, one sergeant and lieutenant are assigned to each PSA. Monthly meetings, orange hat patrols and websites are mechanisms designed to involve community participation. PSA's are acclaimed as causal for lower crime rates, although decreased adolescent population and high incarceration rates are contributing factors. Certainly, PSA's have increased citizen involvement, but at the risk of forging a "fortress mentality." Many, if not most members of orange hat patrols refuse to walk in a different PSA, even if only across a border street. Website users are reluctant to transmit news of or to nearby PSA's.
A serious defect of PSA's is that they were formed by outside consultants and police officials, then superimposed upon residents who had no input. Some PSA's fit a natural community, while others force together disparate aggregates of people with no common ground into neat geographic formations. PSA 510 is an example. With its base along 7th Street, NE and with arms formed by Florida and Maryland Avenues, it presents on paper a pleasing triangle. This perfect triangle is dissected by H St., NE, a street considered a social barrier by residents south of it, so they do not attend PSA meetings or walk patrol. They are, in essence, disenfranchised.
PSA boundaries were drawn for police convenience, not for the convenience or sense of community among residents. Crime rate statistics and street thoroughfares were the sole concerns of the designers. PSA's are meaningless when they do not fit a perceived sense of community, but the real problem is police districts.
An urban legend circulating among D.C. residents claims that police district borders were purposely drawn so they would not coincide with wards; thus, preventing political control of the police department by one or some council members. No evidence supports this charming political scenario.
Police districts were conceptualized in 1965 by a commission established by President Lyndon Johnson (Exec. Order No. 11234). The commission's report was issued in 1966. (U.S. President 's Commission on Crime in the District of Columbia). At the time the commission was formed, the D.C. police department was divided into fourteen precincts. Reducing fourteen unwieldy precincts into [then] six districts was considered an efficiency of both the command structure and administrative costs. On page 12 of the commission's report, it is explained that the
"Purpose of proposed restructuring is to strengthen chains of command, fix responsibility, eliminate duplication of effort and effect needed economies of equipment, manpower and money."
The purpose for reorganizing the MPD into districts is explained, but what was the criteria used in deciding boundaries'
The Presidential Commission relied heavily upon a survey done by The International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) which through "private and public meetings solicited views and recommendations of members of the community as well as experts on police administration and operations." (p. 3) IACP's survey included a category called "police-community relations." A category with the same caption appears in the commission's report (p. 62), but it is not clear if the data therein derives from the IACP survey. To explore police-community relations, the Commission
The period was 1965-1966, a time of racial unrest. From the above, it is apparent that an emphasis was placed on black/white, relations in the selection of police district borders. Commissioners sought out spokesmen for civil rights organizations and they relied upon the BSSR report that focused upon interviews with majority black residents. Several statements from the commission's report illustrate the emphasis placed not only upon race, but upon (perceived) radical movements.
"The separate areas of the city display great variations in race, income, education level, housing and rates of crime. Some communities have a high degree of social integration; their values and attitudes are accurately reflected in the laws the police enforce. With the powerful assistance of underlying social controls, the police task force is made far easier." (p. 62) (emphasis added)
"On the other hand, some communities are characterized by social disorganization, attitudes often inconsistent with the applicable law, and a limited sense of participation in or responsibility for the law's enactment and application. Most problems between police and community occur here .. In general, these communities are predominantly Negro, with higher crime rates." (p. 63)
"No one in D.C. should underestimate the gulf of experience and misunderstanding which separate the police from poorer Negro citizens." A discussion of said follows (pp. 63-64).
The BSSR report concluded that middle income Negroes held mostly ambivalent attitudes toward police; whereas, the poorer respondents were the most negative (pp. 64-65). "But these poorer respondents appear to be less frequently influenced by those tenets of civil rights ideology ...." (p. 65)
Recommendations made in 1966 by the Presidential Commission were not implemented at that time. But the concern expressed in that report about racial relations in the District of Columbia were prescient. In April 1968, riots erupted. As a result, Congress proposed two bills (HR 14430 & HR 14448) intended to establish a Commissioner of Police for D.C. The Police Commissioner would assume complete jurisdiction over MPD, the Park Police, White House Police, Capitol Police and the National Zoo Park Police.
From the hearings, it was obvious the main concern of Congress was the Black United Front (BUF), an organization described as radical. During the riots, BUF had barred police from entering "Resurrection City," an encampment of rioters, and when police did enter they were beaten and their guns taken. BUF made threatening statements to and about police, and passed out leaflets justifying the killing of white policemen. The congressmen did not think the municipal government could control this "fringe" group, especially, they said, since a BUF member was the Vice Chairman of the D.C. City Council. Particularly worrisome to the congressmen was a BUF proposal that neighborhoods control the city's police precincts. (Hearings before Commission on D.C. July 24 & 29; Oct. 1, 1968).
Neither bill passed, no Commissioner of Police was appointed, but the MPD was reorganized into six police districts. (Subsequently, a seventh was created.) The history of the reorganization shows that the district borders were drawn along ethnic/racial lines as they were thirty years ago.
Most of Capitol Hill consists of middle income home owners. A 1996 compilation by Urban Decision Systems, Inc. provides data for a Hill area larger than the historic district, but smaller than realtors' conceptions of current trends. (map enclosed).
|1990 Census||1995 Estimate||2000 Projection|
The preceding data reflects a moderately balanced area in terms of income and racial/ethnic mix. Capitol Hill is the most racially integrated area in the city. The explosive disorder that occurred in the city -- in the nation -- in 1968 is no longer a factor. Police and political leaders cannot now justify race as the deciding issue in designing jurisdictions. The Hill is, and is becoming the kind of community where, to use the 1966 Presidential Commission's words, "the police task force is made far easier." In short, Capitol Hill needs only one police district, not two.
Despite recent emphases on community policing, nowhere in document concerning the formation of police jurisdiction "community" defined. There are lots of assumptions, and there references to assorted groups who allegedly represent "community" or other. Political leaders reacted to the latter of fear, as is evident by the 1966 and 1968 documents. Fear and subjectivity are not suitable approaches for decision-making in democratic society.
The sociological definition of community is a group of people with shared values, shared interests, shared endeavors and a sense of shared identification.
Capitol Hill fits that definition. So do the smaller communal units within its borders. A number of neighborhood associations exist in the area.
Stanton Park Neighborhood Association (SPNA), as its name implies, centers around Stanton Park; its boundaries extend from 2nd St. to 10th St., NE, and from East Capitol to H St., NE. Residents in that area identify with SPNA. They attend meetings, do volunteer work, pay dues, and socialize within the confines of that designated neighborhood. Yet, residents within the SPNA boundaries are divided between ID and 5D, and five PSA's (106, 108, 109, 510 and 511).
Lincoln Park Neighborhood Association is similarly divided between two districts and multiple PSA's. Undoubtedly, other Capitol Hill neighborhood associations are also divided among police jurisdictions, at least multiple PSA's. Only the eastern section of the Hill is divided between ID and 5D.
Neighborhood associations are natural groupings, formed by residents themselves. These associations did not exist in 1966 when police districts were conceptualized, or in 1969 when they were implemented. They are creations of the people who moved to the Hill subsequent to those times. They did exist two years ago when PSA's were formed, but those police jurisdictions are confined to the district structure. It does no good to simply fiddle more with PSA boundaries. The district system must be changed in order to place Capitol Hill, one community, within a rational domain of the MPD, and to form PSA's that conform to actual neighborhoods.
The intention of this report is not to pit one police district against the other to make some arbitrary and unfounded assessment of merit or make a subjective declaration of choice. The report is offered to support the request to place Capitol Hill within the jurisdiction of one police district.
The First District Sub-station (lD1) serves the greatest portion of Capitol Hill. Accordingly, it is recommended herewith that its border be extended along Florida Avenue to 15th Street. The police in lD1 would probably prefer the eastern border to be drawn south along 15th Street joining the extant lD1 jurisdiction at 15th Street and Massachusetts Avenue. The realtors, on the other hand would probably advocate the lD1 border be extended eastward to the Anacostia River. Perhaps the residents in the area between 15th Street and the river should be asked.
In order to compensate for the eastward extension, it is recommended that the lD1 western jurisdiction be bordered by 2nd Street NE north to Florida Avenue. This would remove Union Station and the commercial area to its west from lD1. It makes no sense that these commercial areas are joined to residential Capitol Hill. The enclosed ID map shows PSA 102 as a relatively minute area. It perhaps could be enlarged to cover the area to its south and the area west of Union Station.
Darlene K. Thomas, Ph.D.
718 E Street NE
Washington D.C. 20002
Date: June 23, 1999
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