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John Aravosis, co-founder, SafeStreetsDC.com
Testimony at the City Council hearing on MPD Chief Charles Ramsey’s pay raise
June 17, 2003




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Testimony of John Aravosis
Co-Founder, SafeStreetsDC.com


Thank you for having me here today to discuss Chief Ramsey's job performance.

I came to discuss Chief Ramsey's record, but now realize that there's really nothing to discuss, as we have no idea what Chief Ramsey's record is. The story just keeps changing.

We could talk about crime statistics.

But every time we get any data out of Chief Ramsey, he changes it on us. Yesterday the FBI released new crime data showing a horrifying jump in crime in the District. Rapes went up 50% and murders 14%. Chief Ramsey's response? He says he gave the FBI the wrong data.

So never mind.

We could talk about DC's abysmal 911 telephone service.

How three people have died recently as their loved ones allegedly tried to call 911 to no avail. How the number of people who call 911 and give up because no one answers has risen from 13% when Chief Ramsey was hired to 20% today.

But Chief Ramsey has changed his testimony about 911 so many times that now we don't know what to believe. Were half the 911 operators ignoring their phone lines while a young man burned to death Dupont Circle last January? First Chief Ramsey said no, then he said maybe, now he says yes, but an independent investigation says the Chief s investigation may have been so botched that we may never know.

So never mind.

How about the Chief Ramsey's record on civil rights.

An internal police department report found last January that hundreds of antiglobalization protesters were arrested under trumped up charges last year. But just last week, Chief Ramsey denied the entire affair in the Washington Post, flat-out contradicting his own internal report.

Unfortunately, Chief Ramsey won't release the report publicly, so we have no way to know if he lied last week about the illegal arrests of hundreds of American citizens.

So never mind.

And the list goes on.

Is DC again the murder capital? Did rapes increase by a whopping 50% last year? Is violent crime up 6% since Chief Ramsey was hired? Has Chief Ramsey failed to meet his own performance goals for violent crime three years in a row now? And has Chief Ramsey repeatedly lied to the city council and the DC public about matters affecting our public safety?

The only thing we can be sure of at today's hearing is that if you hear something you don't like, give Chief Ramsey a few hours and a microphone and you're guaranteed his story will change.

Thank you.

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Contact: John Aravosis, co-founder, SafeStreetsDC.com
John@SafeStreetsDC.com - cell 202-262-9302

DC Confirmed as "Murder Capital," FBI Data Shows

Washington; DC - New nationwide crime data released yesterday by the FBI showed an increase in overall crime in Washington, DC in 2002, and confirmed that the District was the per-capita "Murder Capital" last year, according to an analysis conducted by. SafeStreetsDC.com, a public safety watchdog.

Violent Crime Up, MPD Fails to Meet Goal, Third Year in a Row 

While the data showed a nearly 1% increase in overall crime last year in the District, it showed a 3.7% increase in DC's violent crime rate. This was the third year in a row that violent crime increased in the District (2000 saw a 2.1% increase, 2001 a 6.6% increase, and 2002 a 3.7% increase). And since 1998, the year DC Police Chief Charles Ramsey was hired, total violent crime in DC has increased 6.0%.

2002 was also the third year in a row that the MPD fell short of the Mayor's performance goal for decreasing violent crime. The goal was a 5% decrease in 2000, a 2% decrease in 2001, and a 2% decrease in 2002.

Violent Crime: MPD's Goal vs. Reality

  2002 2001 2000
MPD annual goal for decreasing violent crime -2.0% -2.0% -5.0%
Actual % change in DC violent crime +3.7% +6. 6% +2.1

DC Crime Up in 6 of 8 Categories

DC saw an increase in six of the eight crime categories monitored by the FBI for 2002, including 5% increases each in aggravated assaults, burglaries and arsons, a 14% increase in murders, a 15% increase in auto thefts, and a whopping 50% increase in forcible rapes. The only categories seeing a decrease were a 1.2% drop in robberies, and a 6% drop in larcenies/thefts.

% Change in Crime 2001-2002

  DC US Avg.
Burglary +4.4% +1.5%
Arson +4.8% -3.7%
Aggravated Assault +5.2% -2.0%
Murder +14% +0.8%
Auto Theft +15% +1.2%
Rape +50% +4.0%
Robbery -1.2% -1.2%
Larceny /Theft -6.2% -0.7%

Crime Up in DC, Crime Down Nationwide

The FBI data showed that DC's multi-year rise in overall crime and violent crime can not be solely attributed to national trends such as the economy, or unique burdens such as the cost of heightened-security.

Last year, overall crime decreased 0.2% nationwide, while in DC it increased 0.9%. In 2001, overall crime increased 2.1% nationwide, while in DC it increased 6.6%. The same disparity between national and DC trends occurs with violent crime. Last year, violent crime decreased 1.4% nationwide, while in DC it increased 3.7%. In 2001, violent crime increased 0.8% nationwide, while in DC it increased 6.6%.

Interestingly, New York City, which faces similar heightened-security concerns as Washington, DC, showed a 4.5% drop in overall crime last year, and a 4.8% drop in violent crime during the same period.

DC Violent Crime vs. National Trends

2002 2001 2000 1999
Change in Violent Crime DC +3.7% +6.6% +2.1% -6.0%
Change in Violent Crime US -1.4% +0.8% -0.1% -6.7%

Interestingly, even the last time violent crime decreased in DC - 1999, when violent crime in the District dropped 6% - the rest of the country saw an even greater decrease in violent crime, 6.7%. This suggests that DC's crime-fighting fell short even during a year that at first blush appears rosy.

DC Now Third-Highest Violent Crime in US

The result of the disparity in violent crime between DC and other cities is that according to the new FBI data, in 2002 DC had the third-highest violent crime rate for cities with populations over 500,000 (Baltimore was ranked number 1, closely followed by Detroit). This is a worsening from 2001, when DC had the fourth-highest violent crime rate for comparable cities.

DC Again Nation's "Murder Capital"

The FBI data confirmed SafeStreetsDC.com's analysis earlier this year that DC is again the nation's per capita "Murder Capital" for cities with over 500,000 residents (the same standard used when DC previously held that title).

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