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Gregory Greene, Acting Chairman, Fraternal Order of Police
Testimony at the City Council hearing on MPD Chief Charles Ramsey’s pay raise
June 17, 2003




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Fraternal Order of Police
Metropolitan Police Labor Committee
1524 Pennsylvania Ave., S.E.
Washington, D.C. 20003
(202) 548-8300 Fax (202) 548-8306

Testimony of
Acting Chairman Gregory Greene
Before the
Judiciary Committee of the June 17, 2003
on the
The Executive Service Compensation System Changes Emergency Approval Resolution of 2003, PR 15-212
The Separation Pay, Term of Office and Voluntary Retirement Modifications, Compensation System Changes for Chief of Police Charles H. Ramsey Amendment Act of 2003, Bill 15-273.

Chairman Cropp, Chairperson Patterson, Chairperson Orange and other members of the City Council. Thank you for the opportunity to testify regarding proposals to change the compensation and retirement benefits for Chief of Police Charles H. Ramsey. I am Sgt. Gregory Greene, Chairman of the Fraternal Order of Police Labor Committee for the Metropolitan Police Department.

My remarks will be brief. I do not intend to analyze the details of the package proposed for Chief Ramsey. Nor, do I wish to comment on its merits. I do want to take this opportunity to express the Union's position regarding the philosophies that have been articulated regarding the compensation of this Chief of Police and relate them to the rank and file police officers and sergeants I represent.

As I understand it this package, if approved, would make Chief Ramsey the highest paid Chief of Police in the Metropolitan Washington area. Mayor Williams, Chief Ramsey and some members of the City Council justify this increase by pointing out that you, "get what you pay for". Further, they say, our City deserves the best Chief of Police because of the special demands placed upon him by the unique circumstances that come with policing our nation's capital. The debate over this proposal has also focused on the need for gauging the chiefs performance in exchange for this compensation package.

The Fraternal Order of Police-Metropolitan Police Labor Committee agrees with the proposition that you must pay for the quality that you demand or, you will receive the quality that you deserve. It is an immutable law of commerce that is applicable without regard to rank or the wishes of the employer. I submit that it is much more important for our city to higher the best frontline officers, detectives, investigators and sergeants. These are the men and women who provide the services and protect this community every day. While I do not underestimate the value of the chief executive officer, I believe that we have placed far too much emphasis on the role the chief at the expense of the rank-and-file men and women who do the real work of law enforcement.

It is a bitter irony to us, that while Mayor Williams wants to increase the pay of our Chief to the highest level in our area, he has moved to reduce our pay three times. He sought to delay a negotiated pay increase. He moved to freeze our in-step increases this year and asked to have them frozen again in FY 2004. We want to thank the members of this Council who resisted those efforts. We are glad that you do not share the elitist philosophy of the Executive.

It is a convenient analogy to compare law enforcement officers, with members of the military services because of our paramilitary structure and organization. Unfortunately, that traditional analogy is not very accurate. Police officers are given much more discretion when performing their duties, and making decisions regarding the life and liberty of the citizens they serve.

In fact, those officers who serve best are those who work most effectively without supervision. Law enforcement agencies spend many thousands of dollars evaluating each applicants' psychological, emotional, and physical condition. When looking at the psychological and emotional components of an applicant' s personality we are looking for sound judgment and strong personal control because we know that he or she must be able to think independently under extreme stress. We also know that they will most likely be alone when called upon to exercise that discretion, and to make decisions regarding the use of deadly force.

These qualities are critical to a good police officer. They are also uncommon. Every federal and local law enforcement agency screens for these qualities among the common pool of applicants. Those agencies that offer the best combination of compensation and support will always attract the best-qualified recruits.

The District of Columbia offers compensation that is about average for the Metropolitan Washington area. The requirement that our members reside within 25 air miles of the Capitol places them in some of the most expensive areas in which to live. The demands made upon members of the Metropolitan Police Department, are far above those encountered in any other uniformed law enforcement service.

A recent survey of our membership, revealed that most have little or no confidence that they will be supported by their superiors or by the Department in the face of controversy surrounding decisions they make on the street. That survey result confirmed what I have been hearing from my fellow officers throughout the Department for several years. Many of us feel we are called upon to make very hard decisions at a pace that far exceeds the experience of most other uniformed law enforcement agencies in our area. Further, that we are more likely to be disciplined for making good-faith efforts to perform our duties.

Despite years of intensive effort our Department has not been able to reach its authorized strength. Today, we are losing officers faster than new recruits can be hired. When the demands for greater numbs of police officers is not backed by appropriate compensation and support we are doomed to fail. Unless, one succumbs to the temptation to lower standards in order to fill vacancies. That shortcut is not only shortsighted it is dangerous to my fellow officers and the community we protect. We want the most qualified and best-trained recruit officers to join us on the streets of this community. It is in our interest as well as yours.

If we apply the principles used to justify the proposed increase for Chief Ramsey to the compensation now provided to rank-and-file officers, we must reach the conclusion that they deserve an increase even greater than that proposed for the Chief of Police. If our city is prepared to pay what is necessary to secure the best Chief of Police but is unwilling to compensate the officers who answer the calls for service in the same manner it is choosing style over substance. It will be a cheaper decision but it will be no solution.

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