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Testimony of Chief of Police Larry D. Soulsby
Before the House of Representatives District of Columbia Subcommittee
September 26, 1997




Dorothy Brizill
Bonnie Cain
Jim Dougherty
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Sandra Seegars


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Charter Mission Statement Baseline Report
Enforcement Effort Operating Model Problem-Solving
Consolidation and Decentralization Management and Standards Performance Management
Crime & Arrests Future Activities Conclusion

Good morning Representative Davis and members of the Subcommittee. Thank you for the opportunity to appear before the you to discuss the transformation of the Metropolitan Police Department.

Today, I am here to discuss the improvements that we have made to the operations and organization of the Metropolitan Police Department, the accomplishments that we have achieved, and the changes that are still to occur. Clearly, we are on the road to success and regaining our position as one of the best police departments in the country.


In December of last year an MOU partnership was formed comprised of myself, the Mayor, the City Council, the Chief Judge of the Superior Court, the Corporation Council, the U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia, and the Financial Responsibility and Management Assistance Authority to address the public safety crisis facing the District of Columbia. One of the first conclusions reached by the MOU Partners was the need to enhance the authority of the Chief of Police.

Many of the problems confronting the department were, it was felt, caused by undue interference with the Chief's leadership and management of the agency. The Mayor of the District of Columbia, as an MOU Partner, instituted a new charter for the Metropolitan Police Department on February 26, 1997, which gives a Chief of Police the ability to manage and direct the affairs of the agency in all critical areas.

Charter of the Metropolitan Police Department

The Charter for the office the Chief of Police, of the Metropolitan Police Department of the District of Columbia, is to develop and execute effective strategies that prevent and reduce crime, disorder, fear of crime, and improve the quality of life for all citizens in the District of Columbia. This will be accomplished in partnership with the community, and other appropriate government agencies, and in accordance with constitutional values and applicable laws. The Chief of Police will serve as the Chief Executive Officer of the department; as such, the Chief is responsible for establishing professional standards that maintain a higher level of integrity and ethical conduct that is generally accepted of others, and will be responsible and accountable for all activities involving the Metropolitan Police Department. All operations of the department, including planning, organizing, staffing, coordinating, directing, reporting, and budgeting of department and related community resources, will be oriented toward serving the needs of a diverse community, as well as the federal interests associated with Washington's unique role as the Nation's Capital.

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Once the Metropolitan Police Department's new Charter had been established it was used as the foundation for the development of a new department mission statement, one which is a simple, clear, straightforward description of the department's mission. A mission statement that serves as the guiding principle upon which all future actions must be based.

Mission of the Metropolitan Police Department

The mission of the Metropolitan Police Department is to eliminate crime, fear of crime, and general disorder, while establishing respect and trust within the community.

The new mission statement is carried by all sworn and civilian members on a small pocket card to remind them of the department's primary objectives in serving the community.

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The Metropolitan Police Department has embarked on a comprehensive transformation of its organization and operations. The outcome of which is the development and implementation of immediate and long-term organizational and strategic improvements to meet the goals of eliminating crime and disorder, reducing the fear of crime in the District of Columbia, and establishing respect and trust within the community.

The nationally known and respected management consulting firm of Booz.Allen & Hamilton, Inc., was retained to conduct a comprehensive management study of the department. Many of the initiatives of which I speak about today are the result of a close working collaboration between my executive leadership team, Booz.Allen & Hamilton, and rank and file members of the department and are based upon the findings that were presented in the Baseline Report: Crime Fighting Efforts in the District of Columbia that was released on April 3, 1997.

The following reports are examples of the major issues addressed by the study. All of them, individually and cumulatively, are having a significant, positive impact on department operations.

  • Policing 2000 Investment Strategy
    March 21, 1997
    A comprehensive list of material needs that have been forwarded to the Office of Management and Budget to support the department in its efforts to fight crime and disorder in the city.
  • The New MPD District Model
    April 28, 1997
    A new operating model that coordinates and deploys all available resources on the beat. The model is built upon the principle that members must accept responsibility for the elimination of crime and disorder in their community.
  • MPD Information/Enabling Technologies
    May 13, 1997
    The MPD information infrastructure needs to support the department's new operating model and the increase needs caused by the new policing strategy.
  • District and Beat Boundary Restructuring
    June 3, 1997
    The key to an effective problem-solving approach to crime and order maintenance is to ensure that officers have the time to develop and implement solutions to problems in their communities. To this end, patrol districts and PSA boundaries were realigned to provide equal work load across the city.
  • New Policing Strategy
    July 3, 1997
    To move the department away from the traditional system of policing, a new operating model has been developed. The new model introduces problem-solving as the basis to address community problems and concerns, while providing the sense of ownership necessary to effect cultural changes within the department.
  • Fleet Management Baseline Analysis and Blueprint
    July 15, 1997
    Report contains recommendations to enhance management controls and improve maintenance performance. It is estimated that recommended improvements will take up to six months to implement.
  • ID&R Division Baseline and Blueprint
    July 21, 1997
    Developed the Identification and Records Division Baseline and Blueprint. Contains records management improvements that are achievable in next six months.
  • Infrastructure Redesign: Property Division
    July 23, 1997
    An infrastructure redesign blueprint for the Property Division that contains recommendations to improve property control.
  • Performance Focused Management System (PFMS)
    July23, 1997
    Currently, the MPD lacks an overall management system that establishes performance targets and programs to manage overall performance. The PFMS sets and gauges progress on agency and individual performance.
  • Citizen Complaint Process
    September 19, 1997
    A system for the independent review of citizen complaints against police offices that is under the jurisdiction of the D.C. Superior Court.

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While the information was being collected for the baseline report, we recognized that we could not wait for its release before taking action, but had to take immediate action to stop the rise in crime that was occurring in our city. As a consequence, on March 7, 1997, the department initiated an Enhanced Enforcement Effort that targeted specific areas of the city to demonstrate and to reassure citizens that their personal safety and the protection of their property was our foremost objective. By July, crime in these targeted areas has been reduced by 24 percent and citizens feelings of safety in their neighborhoods had begun to improve.

1, and the other members of my executive team, quickly recognized that the success in crime reduction that was occurring in the targeted areas had to be expanded to all areas of the city. What we have now done is to remake the department so that the same level of high visibility, community interaction and participation, dramatic reductions in crime, and the elimination of fear are realities in every neighborhood in the city, not simply in a handful of target areas.

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On July 1, 1997, a New Operating Model was implemented for the Metropolitan Police Department. The New Operating Model itself is the work of a team made up of 20 experienced and dedicated sworn and civilian department employees representing field and support organizational elements throughout the department. The "Group of 20" (or "G20" as they are sometimes called) worked closely for several weeks with the Booz.Allen project team to develop a new community-oriented philosophy for delivering police services to residents of the District of Columbia.

The Group of 20 surveyed their colleagues in the field for ideas, which they then brainstormed and analyzed to develop the New Operating Model and District Policing Strategy. Men and women on the front lines of policing in the District were able, for the first time, to contribute their knowledge, expertise, and common sense on how the department organizes and deploys its resources. The plan transforms police patrol in the District, lays the groundwork for productive and sustained citizen-police cooperation. It establishes accountability to neighborhoods for reducing levels of crime, fear of crime, and disorder.

Our New Operating Model realigns patrol district boundaries and divides the city into 83 Police Service Areas (PSA's) that operate within the framework of the department's seven patrol districts. Each PSA is served by a team comprised of patrol officers, detectives, and vice investigators. This is a decentralization of personnel and authority away from specialized units to basic street-level police patrol teams. The team provides 24-hour, seven days-per-week coverage to a geographically manageable, neighborhood-based area.

An essential feature of the new model is that, to the extent possible, officers remain assigned to individual PSAs so they can better know and serve specific neighborhoods. The long-term assignment is meant to reinforce the team members' sense of ownership and accountability to their PSA and community. Another crucial accountability and management factor is that each team is led by a single PSA sergeant who has overall responsibility for police service within the PSA.

The PSA sergeant is required to develop a thorough knowledge of the area, and will soon be equipped with a beeper whose number will be provided to residents and business people in the PSA. Within reason and in non-emergency situations, citizens can page their PSA sergeant to seek or provide information, volunteer for neighborhood anti-crime projects, or register concerns.

The PSA structure is designed to serve several purposes: to establish and maintain a closer alliance with the community to reduce crime and the fear of crime; to provide each neighborhood with a clear channel for input into PSA plans and operations; and, to greatly enhance police ability to obtain the community's support, time, and energy in achieving common objectives.

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Accompanying the reorganization of patrol is the application of a new strategic problem-solving approach to drugs, guns, gangs, and disorder, those factors that lead to cycles of serious crime and disruption in communities. The problem-solving approach is responsible for many of the crime-fighting success stories in other cities that you may have heard about. Problem-solving operates by (1 ) identifying the underlying cause of a cluster of criminal incidents; (2) determining the best plan to eliminate or neutralize the cause; (3) putting the plan into action; and (4) making certain it is working. It is aimed at the sources of chronic crime and disorder, whether they be homicides, neighborhood drug markets, street corner prostitution, or garbage clogged alleys that suggest no one cares about conditions in a neighborhood.

The new approach means that the MPD no longer will spend all its patrol time responding to 911 calls and reacting after the fact to criminal incidents. With the significantly increased number of officers on the streets, the PSA teams will have the time and training to attack neighborhood crime and disorder through planning, analysis, and skillful application of the best police practices developed throughout the nation.

Problem-solving encourages officers to use a variety of methods, not just arrests, to solve problems. These methods include using civil laws to control public nuisances, offensive behavior, and conditions contributing to crime; attaching new conditions to parole and probation; issuing citations in lieu of arrests; and tracking repeat offenders. The message here is: not everyone has to be locked-up every time for every offense. For example, civil action permanently closing down a nightclub known for persistent drug trafficking can be more effective than recurring police raids.

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As a part of our New Operating Model, we have consolidated patrol district station operations and decentralized many of our specialized units and headquarters investigative functions to the PSA's, including the transfer of 22 sworn members from our Identification and Records and Communications Divisions to the patrol districts. In addition, approximately 50 percent of all patrol district support staff have been redeployed to the PSA's. Today, 71 percent of all sworn department personnel are assigned to the seven patrol districts with another 17 percent assigned to investigative and direct PSA support functions. This means that 88 percent of all department personnel are assigned to positions that provide direct services to the public or are directly assisting PSA officers in the provision of services to persons living, working, and visiting the District of Columbia.

Ultimately, one-fourth of all sworn personnel not currently assigned to the patrol districts will be redeployed to the PSA's. This will result in the number of officers assigned to the patrol districts being significantly higher, which means greater visible police presence and more patrol officer time available for preventing crime and disorder.

The department's Narcotics and Special Investigations Division and Criminal Investigations Division have been consolidated into one operational unit. This consolidation allows for greater utilization of our investigative personnel and frees both uniformed and undercover detectives for strategic positioning in the PSA's. As a result, 88 detectives have been reassigned to the seven patrol districts.

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At the same time that we are undertaking a comprehensive reorganization of the patrol districts, we are also moving forward on several other fronts to improve the management and operations of the department. These include:

  • Sworn members of the department were granted a 10 percent pay raise using District of Columbia funds effective July 6, 1997. While the 10 percent pay raise is very helpful, the pay scale still lags behind that of other jurisdictions in the Washington Metropolitan Area.
  • In June and July of this year a one-day New Operating Model orientation session was held for all district personnel. In August, a two-day training session was held for the 83 PSA sergeants. Also, beginning in August the Training Division began conducting two-day training sessions for all PSA team members. The specialized training covers problem-solving, communications skills, and other issues relevant to the implementation of the New Operating Model. This training is in addition to the in-service and specialized training routinely provided to sworn members.
  • The department implemented a random drug testing program on May 15, 1997. Members are selected at random to undergo drug screening. To date, 313 members have been tested; results have been negative for all tests.
  • The department's entry level recruiting standards have been reviewed to ensure adequacy. The standards exceed those required by the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies.
  • The department's recruiting procedures have been revised to require more documentation from applicants and to ensure that the case files are thoroughly reviewed. The Recruiting Unit has been reorganized and a new recruiting campaign begun.
  • Starting on October 1,1997, the Training Division will begin using a computer- assisted judgmental training program as a part of our recertification program. A computer-assisted training program for domestic violence is also being installed in the seven patrol districts, the Special Operations Division, the Criminal Investigations Division, and the Youth and Family Services Division. This new system will allow us to conduct training off-site, thereby eliminating the need for officers to travel away from their units for needed training.

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The department is instituting a Performance-Focused Management System to consolidate and focus organizational and individual performance standards under a single, interrelated umbrella. The achievement of specific department-wide goals will be reflected in the performance ratings of individual members, especially for the ranks of captains and above.

The department's Performance Management System for the ranks of officer through lieutenant concludes its pilot rating year on September 30, 1997. The individual performance standards for the 1997-98 rating year have been revised to reflect the performances requirements of the New Operating Model and District Policing Strategy.

The ranks of captain through assistant chief are being added to the system for the coming year. These ranks will be more focused on the achievement of department and organizational element objectives, rather than the traditional personal performance indicators.

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When looking at the preliminary crime and arrest statistics for the first nine and one-half months of 1997, you will see that our efforts are having an impact. Crime from January 1 through September 24, 1997, is down 18 percent city-wide when compared to the same time period in 1996. Each of the department's seven patrol districts have achieved crime decreases, with five of the seven districts having double-digit reductions.

Looking at individual crime categories for the same time period we find that:

  • Crimes Against Persons were down 16 percent.
  • Crimes Against Property were reduced 18 percent.
  • Homicide was down 23 percent. The homicide total through the end of August was the lowest number for the first eight months of any calendar year since 1988.
  • Robbery, a crime contributing to the sense of fear and victimization in the community, was down 26 percent.
  • Burglary, an invasive crime that makes citizens apprehensive about the safety and security of their homes, was down 25 percent.
  • Stolen Auto, seen at this point last year as a crime that was totally out of control, was down by 26 percent.

The total number of arrests that have been made by the men and women of the department in the period of January 1, 1997, through August 31, 1997, have increased by 26 percent when compared to the same period in 1996. In 1997 the arrest trend has changed from a decrease to an increase and the crime trend from an increase to a decrease.

While these crime reduction achievements are significant, I believe that we can and must do even better. As I have already stated publicly, I believe that we can achieve even greater decreases in crime. The men and women of the department are working hard to bring about a lasting sense of safety and security to our communities. Our challenge is to continue this progress in the coming months.

While I am discussing crime, let me take a moment to say a few words about the most outrageous crime of all: homicide. I am certain that members of the committee have seen the recent media reports about the changes I have made in the department's Homicide Branch. A number of management, supervisory, and process improvements are being made in response to many deficiencies in those areas. I am also establishing a working group, similar to the one used for the development of our New Operating Model for patrol, to develop a new operating model for- all investigative functions. My ultimate objective is to make the Homicide Branch more responsive and accountable to the survivors, families, and friends of the homicide victims themselves.

A significant contributing factor to the problems with the investigation and management of homicide investigations is the overtime problem. On the average, homicide investigators spend two-thirds of their time performing post-arrest investigative and other prosecution-related activities for the U.S. Attorney's Office. Most of this time is outside of an investigator's regular tour of duty, a situation which mandates the payment of overtime compensation.

This prosecutorial investigative function is performed in most other jurisdictions by investigators employed by the district attorney's office or other prosecuting agency at either the state or local level. The District of Columbia, because of its unique jurisdictional status, does not have either a local district attorney's office or state investigative agency. The burden of this additional investigative function falls on the Metropolitan Police Department, at a point in most localities where the arresting officer would be relieved of additional investigative duties.

I am aware that the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Columbia is requesting authorization and appropriations to hire 42 investigators to provide investigative support to its prosecutors. Approval of this request would relieve the department of providing this type of support and would result in a significant reduction in overtime expenditures. I strongly urge the committee to support the U.S. Attorney's request.

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I have indicated the principal actions taken to date. Each of these actions is having a positive impact, but much work remains to be done. This week, I have assigned several experienced sworn and civilian employees to work directly with Booz.Allen project teams on implementation of the major infrastructure blueprints. In addition, one of the teams will be auditing the New Operating Model to ensure that our changes are becoming institutionalized in the department's patrol districts and other operational elements.

Our overriding objective remains focusing our sworn strength, to the greatest extent possible, in two areas: direct front-line service delivery to the community or investigative and specialized operations which directly support front-line service. Among the tools we are exploring to achieve this objective are: the consolidation of functions, automation of reporting processes, civilianization, and technology enhancements.

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The transformation of the department will help to fulfill two personal goals that I have set. The first is to provide the dedicated men and women of the Metropolitan Police Department with the opportunity to intensify their professional skills and focus their talents on the essence of policing: preventing crime, eliminating disorder, and serving citizens.

My second goal is that in the coming months, every resident of the District of Columbia will be on a first name basis with at least one member of their neighborhood PSA team. The police are a part of the community and are empowered by the community, it is not a matter of us-versus-them. It is a matter of we -- citizens and police -- working together to improve the quality of life for all who live, work, and visit our Nation's Capital by eliminating crime, fear of crime, and general disorder, and establishing mutual respect and trust within the community.

In closing, I want to emphasize that the Metropolitan Police Department is well on the road to success, performance has increased and morale has greatly improved. The transformation which is underway will result in a police department in which all citizens can take great pride.

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