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John Childrers, President and CEO, Consortium of Universities of the Metropolitan Washington Area
Testimony at the City Council hearing on MPD Chief Charles Ramsey’s pay raise
June 17, 2003




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Testimony of John B. Childers
President & CEO
Consortium of Universities of the Washington Metropolitan Area
PR 15-212
"Executive Service Compensation System Changes Emergency Approval Resolution of 2003"
Bill 15-273
"Separation Pay, Term of Office and Voluntary Retirement Modifications, and Compensation System Changes for Chief of Police Charles H. Ramsey Amendment Act of 2003"

Chairman Cropp and Members of the Council, I am pleased to testify today in support of Chief Charles H. Ramsey and the pending pieces of legislation that would modify his financial compensation arrangements and allow him to receive a pay raise. I support legislative steps to enable this to happen for Chief Ramsey as I believe Chief Ramsey is completely deserving of continuing as Chief and receiving additional compensation. I do not have a position on whether these are provisions that should be extended generally to other DC government officials.

The major concern expressed by some Council members about Chief Ramsey and the performance of the Metropolitan Police Department, and appropriately so, is specific instances of less than stellar performance of some members of the Metropolitan Police Department, and specific categories of crimes that have shown an increase in the past year or so.

But as appropriate as it is to compare this year to last year or the year before, I think it is also instructive to look at the longer term history. I moved to the District in 1963, and have worked here ever since. I have lived through some tumultuous times in the District, and ask you to remember that all was not perfect before Chief Ramsey arrived. A quick look at some newspaper clips in my files reveals:

  • Homicides peaked in the District in 1993.
  • The police union announced in 1997 that officers could no longer "fully protect" residents and called for the Federal government to take over the department.
  • Seven police officers were killed between 1994 and 1997.
  • Andrew Brimmer, chairman of the Control Board, said in 1997 "The Police Department today is suffering from deep cynicism, low morale, and poor management."
  • A study in 1997 revealed that more than 100 police officers had criminal records and couldn't testify in court.
  • Another study in 1997 showed that crime increased 33% from 1985 to 1997 while the District's population shrank by 13%. And the same study showed that DC police officers ranked at the bottom in eight of nine categories of law enforcement.

Since 1997, reported crimes have declined by 14% and the total number of crimes is the lowest total for any five-year period since 1965. Most major categories of crime including homicides, robberies, and aggravated assaults are all lower today then they were in 1997 before Chief Ramsey came to the District. That's an excellent overall record.

But the area I would like to concentrate on today, where I have more direct personal knowledge of Chief Ramsey and his work, is the work the Chief has done with the Department's Police Training and Standards Board, the improved communication between the Police Department and campus police forces since Chief Ramsey arrived, and the greater emphasis Chief Ramsey has placed on police training and education.

The Police Training and Standards Board was created by the passage of the Omnibus Police Reform Act Amendment of 2000. Its goal is to enhance the quality and consistency of the Department's police officer selection and training programs. The Board is composed of eleven members consisting of two DC citizen representatives, the Deputy Mayor for Public Safety and Justice, and representatives from the FBI, DC Superior Court, US Attorney's Office, DC Office of Corporation Counsel, Chair of the MUD Labor Committee, two representatives of the Department of which the Chief is one, and a representative from the academic community which is the seat I hold. I am Vice Chair of the Board and head of the Selection working group.

Chief Ramsey has been actively involved in the work of the Training and Standards Board and is absolutely dedicated to improving the quality of officers recruited to the Department and improving the quality of their training once in the Department. As we have been drafting and debating recruitment standards, the Chief has played an active and vital role in our deliberations. He was one of the first to advocate additional educational requirements for new police officers. A requirement passed by the DC Council that new recruits have at least two years of higher education will go into effect at the beginning of 2004. The Board is currently in the process of drafting new rules that will strengthen recruitment standards and pull them together in one place so that they are easily available to find and understand. The Chief has been totally supportive of this effort.

I would also like to note that relations between the Metropolitan Police Department and District universities have improved significantly since his arrival. There is close cooperation between the Department and the Campus Public Safety Institute that provides training for campus police officers. The Chief has also recognized that one in eight residents of the District of Columbia are university students and has provided campus police forces a seat in the Joint Operations Command Center (JOCC) for times of emergency to assist in rapid communication between the JOCC and campuses. The fact that one in eight District residents are university students is very helpful to the District as the recent grant of almost $94 million in funds from the Federal Government to the District to alleviate budget pressures is based on population, so about $12 million of the grant is directly attributable to the number of university students who live in the District.

Also, a new task force has been created between the Department and local universities to work on ways to provide expanded educational opportunities for Metropolitan police officers at universities, to provide additional instructional assistance at the Police Academy by university faculty, and to create new programs to help potential police recruits meet the new entrance education requirements to become DC police officers.

In conclusion, I think Chief Ramsey is a consummate professional and a person of the highest personal integrity. There has been no whiff of scandal surrounding him personally or in his professional dealings as opposed to the revelations coming out of these chambers day after day about other DC government agencies and their officials. As I hope I have demonstrated in my testimony, his record is also excellent and the District is a safer place since he arrived. And, based on my personal experience, he takes the job of improving the Metropolitan Police Department seriously, and is completely dedicated to doing so.

Members of the Council, Chief Ramsey is more than deserving of your support. We ought to be extolling his virtues and doing everything we can to convince him to remain as Chief of the Metropolitan Police Department. His work deserves more than the proposed raise that amounts to only about a 3% increase annualized over the past five years, but he deserves at least that. Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to present my views.

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