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Margret Nedelkoff Kellems, Deputy Mayor for Public Safety and Justice
Testimony at the City Council hearing on MPD Chief Charles Ramsey’s pay raise
June 17, 2003




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JUNE 17, 2003
12:00 P.M.

Good morning Chairman Cropp, Chairperson Patterson, Chairperson Orange, members of the Council, and distinguished guests. I am Margret Kellems, Deputy Mayor for Public Safety and Justice and I am before you today to testify on the "Executive Service Compensation System Changes Emergency Approval Resolution of 2003," and on the "Separation Pay, Term of Office and Voluntary Retirement Modifications, and Compensation System Changes for Chief of Police Charles H. Ramsey Amendment Act of 2003."

I would like to start by explaining for the record the basic terms of the resolution and legislation before you today. The Mayor has presented these packages, the terms of which he believes represent fair compensation for managing the 3,800 authorized sworn members and 802 authorized civilian staff of the Metropolitan Police Department to achieve public safety results. Equally importantly, the Mayor believes that these terms would be competitive with offers Chief Ramsey might receive from other jurisdictions seeking to recruit him from his service to the District.

As you know, Chief Ramsey's current base salary is $150,000 annually, an amount he has made since he accepted his post in 1998; his current pension is calculated at 2.5% of his salary times the years of his service with the department. The resolution before you would increase Chief Ramsey's base salary from $150,000 annually to $175,000. Additionally, the legislation would increase the Chief's pension from 2.5% to 3.43% of his salary. I will discuss each of these two provisions briefly.

First, Chief Ramsey's salary has remained at $150,000 since he flrst took his job in the District in 1998. As you know, over this period, the salaries of the sworn members of MPD have increased at an average annual rate of 4%. Had Chief Ramsey qualified for the salary increases that the other sworn members received, his salary would be $182,500 this fiscal year. Put another way, if the Chief's proposed salary were to be implemented now, it would represent an effective annual increase of 3.1 % per year for the first 5 years of his tenure, less than both the sworn members' annual increase, and, barely above the rate of inflation over this time period, which was 2.57%. Assuming both the legislative change were to pass and that Chief Ramsey were to stay for the duration of the second contract period, the additional $25,000 would represent the effective equivalent of an 1.5% annual raise during his 10 year service to the City.

Second, the legislation before you would increase the Chief's pension from 2.5% of his salary to 3.43% of his salary, times his years of service to MPD. To give you a sense of how much this represents in concrete terms, if the Chief were to retire at the end of the second proposed contract period with the current pension provisions, he would earn approximately $44,000 annually in pension benefits. All other things being equal, if the Chief were to retire under the new terms, he would receive approximately an additional $16,000 annually in pension benefits. With his projected earnings from pensions from previous employment with the Chicago Police Department, this would provide Chief Ramsey with a total retirement package of 80% of his pre-retirement income. This is consistent with a 2003 survey conducted by the Employee Benefit Research Institute, which concluded that retirees generally require between 70% to 80% of their pre-retirement income to live comfortably in retirement.

The two other significant provisions of the proposed legislation are a proposed second contract period of four years and nine months and a provision authorizing the Mayor to provide up to six months of severance pay rather than the current authority the Mayor has for three months of separation pay.

Finally, to add additional context to your deliberations on the pay package, please consider the compensation provided to Chiefs in other jurisdictions. I think there are at least two noteworthy points. First, there are smaller or less challenging jurisdictions whose Chiefs earn amounts comparable to Chief Ramsey's current salary. To name but a few, the Chief of the Louisville, KY earns $145,000 annually; Boston's Chief earns $160,000; and even the Chief of Montgomery County recently received a salary increase to $160,000 annually. Second, there are Chiefs in some cities who will continue to earn more than or comparable amounts to Chief Ramsey with the proposed increase. Among those Chiefs are those from Los Angeles, earning $226,000 annually; the Chief of Virginia Beach earns $177,000 annually; and Miami, earning $173,000.

I want to turn from the provisions of the legislation and resolution before you to the larger issue of the performance of the Department over the past five years of Chief Ramsey's leadership. You may recall the state of the Metropolitan Police Department in 1997. The Department that Chief Ramsey inherited was unhealthy and broken in fundamental ways. The cost of that disorganization was a police department that was disconnected from and lacked legitimacy within the community, bred discontented employees, and, failed to detect or respond to crime effectively.

Achieving these results required not only instilling a greater sense of accountability throughout the Department, but making the investments to correct the latent organizational and infrastructural problems. This is an ongoing process, but to point out some of the most significant changes to date:


  • When Chief Ramsey began, there was a police force of approximately 3592 sworn officers; of that total, only 1,171 were assigned to patrol duties.
    As of late May, of MPD's sworn complement of 3,624, 1,859 officers, sergeants, and lieutenants were assigned to PSAs.
    Recently, MPD has worked with Councilmembers Patterson and Chavous on a shortterm goal of deploying 62% of the officers, sergeants, and lieutenants to the PSAs to provide direct services. Chief Ramsey has committed to deploying 100% of newly hired officers to PSAs and to maintain a long-term goal of 60% in PSAs.
  • In 1998, on average, only 25% of calls for service in a PSA were responded to by an officer assigned to the same PSA, effectively making the prospect of community policing impossible. 
    Now, that measure of PSA integrity is nearly double at 47.3%


  • When the Chief arrived in the District, there was only the beginning of a community policing model and problem solving policing strategy. While the PSA model was developed in 1997, it was the first time since the 1970s that it had been revisited. But in 1998, there was little structured community engagement in crime prevention and problem-solving.
    Chief Ramsey developed the Partnerships for Problem Solving strategy and implemented it in the PSA structure that had been recently created. In the last 5 years, he has expanded that model to include "Partnerships for Problem Solving" "train the trainer" sessions to educate the community in community policing and problem solving. Already over 150 community members have been trained and more than 2,000 residents from every part of the District have participated in Partnership for Problem Solving Sessions.
    This spring, MPD launched the Youth Problem Solving Partnership to engage 250 youth in the community problem solving process, intended to strengthen young adults' capacity to be effective community partners now and in the future.
    More recently, MPD has expanded its effort, by holding a training for DC residents who want to learn how to start or enhance "Orange Hat" citizen patrol programs in their neighborhoods.
    And as all of you know, the Chief is revising the PSA model to better meet citizen needs through improved alignment with other city planning and services and greater flexibility in deployment. Throughout this process, he has solicited unprecedented amounts of public input.
  • In early 1999, the United States Department of Justice instigated an investigation a possible pattern or practice of excessive use of force by MPD members against citizens, which was reported in depth by the Washington Post in November 1998. Shockingly, at that time, many officers in the Department were not qualified to use their service weapons.
    Now, all sworn members are required to certify with their firearms twice a year. The Department has a nationally recognized Force Investigation Team that investigates all uses of force by the members, and the uses of deadly force in which individuals were injured or killed are down 62.5%.
  • When the Chief arrived, relationships with minority populations including the Latino community, the Asian community, were strained or, in some cases, non-existent.
    There is now a Latino Liaison Unit, an Asian Liaison Unit, and a liaison for gay, bisexual, and transgender individuals. There is also a liaison for the deaf and hard of hearing, and TTY machines are now installed in all major units.


  • When the Chief arrived, the Department was not professionally competitive because of a combination of salary or quality of the work environment. In 1998, the Department was losing on average 23.5 members per month, a rate higher than that at which the Department was able to bring on new members.
    Thus far in FY03, average attrition is at only nine per month, a 61 % reduction. This is one indicator of the trend of organizational health, which will also enable Chief Ramsey to hire up to the fully funded 3,800 authorized strength.
  • When the Chief arrived, education levels among those who did enter the department were not uniform enough to ensure that new officers would have the skills necessary to do "problem oriented policing" and create a pool of future managers.
    Education levels among officers now entering the department are on average 13.5 years, and by statute, that number will be a required 14 years in the near future.
  • In 1998, there was no regular in service training program for officers, an essential element for professional law enforcement entities.
    Now, every member is required to have 40 hours of annual in-service training. Working with Council, a Police Officers Standards and Training Board is in place and developing instructor certifications, conduct and selection standards, and benchmarking reports for member qualifications.


  • When the Chief arrived, the average age of the fleet was 10 years old. The cars were in terrible condition and presented a poor image to the community.
    The average age of the fleet is now only 3.5 years and there is a standard replacement cycle for all vehicles.
  • In 1998, police facilities were in abysmal shape: there were backed up sewers in some District stations; non-functioning air conditioning units; little to no security; and even basic administrative equipment such as copy machines and supplies like toilet paper were not available.
    Chief Ramsey has managed the investment of millions of dollars in facilities throughout the City. District police stations have been renovated to make them more efficient and customer-friendly, and the department has opened community facilities and substations.
  • One of the biggest weaknesses in the Department when the Chief arrived was the information technology system. It was in a state of crisis. The Department's main records management system resided on a 25-year-old mainframe computer-the last of its kind in the country-that was unreliable and frequently broken. As a result, patrol officers could not always depend on getting information, on such topics as wanted persons and stolen property, to do their job. On the investigative side, detectives complained that the department's investigative and intelligence system, WACHS, was difficult to learn and sometimes failed to save their reports. Some detectives refused to use it. Access to information systems from the districts was hampered because the communications network (MPDNet) could not handle the load that had developed over the years. District personnel reported that logging on to MPDNet sometimes took more than 30 minutes. Few computers had internet access and there was no reliable email system. Officers could not communicate with each other through the few mobile data computers (MDC's) and the MDCs were not connected with the department's computer-aided-dispatch system. The 911 center technology had not been improved in several years and the phone switching system used to relay 911 calls to the operators was no longer serviced or supported by its manufacturer.
  • MPD has implemented improved central and line-level technology, which it continues to build on. The antiquated mainframe system has now been replaced with a stable, current IBM platform. The MPDNet has been upgraded to allow less than 10 minute logins. Six hundred cruisers now have mobile data terminals from which they can communicate directly from car-to-car and connect to the CAD system. Centrally, MPD's Joint Operation Command Complex enables real time crime analysis and police deployment to make informed crime-fighting decisions. There is now an integrated, state-of-the-art CAD system supporting both police and FireEMS. There is a Department-wide reliable email system and full internet access. The WACHS system is now upgraded to a user-friendly, stable Windows platform. The homicide division has a case management system. A "google-like" search engine, called Columbo, now allows investigators to search, retrieve and link information from various criminal databases. There are other IT improvements that further demonstrate the enormous strides the Department has made in this critical area.

All that I described demonstrates some of the significant improvement that Chief Ramsey has made in what was a very broken department. Chief Ramsey has gone about his organizational reform focusing on producing public safety outcomes -reduced crime, decreased use of force, reduced traffic fatalities, professionalizing the work forcethrough investing in the Department's assets, both human and capital. Investing in the infrastructure of the Department was the necessary first step to transforming a dysfunctional agency. To the public, however, the most important metric of the Chief's success is not the amount of organizational reform, but the results achieved through them. Over his tenure, the Chief has delivered results.

  • Overall crime is down 14 percent since 1997 and preliminary numbers suggest an additional decrease this year.
  • Homicides are down from 301 in 1997 to 233 in 2001, but most recently, have risen slightly to 264 in 2002.
  • Violent Crime since is down since 1997 by 14.9%. Property Crime is down 14.7% since 1997.
  • The argument has been put forth that by using a different base year, MPD's improvements are less significant. If you use the most robust measure possible - the total actual number of reported crimes - the Chief's tenure represents the lowest five year total in approximately 30 years of official crime reporting.
  • Traffic fatalities are down 21 % since 1997 because of bold enforcement programs by MPD, bucking the national trend moving in the opposite direction.
  • MPD is recognized as a leader in managing large events including holiday celebrations, marches, parades, protests and demonstrations. Since 1998, there have been hundreds of demonstrations, which collectively have involved hundreds of thousands of individuals. Probably no other jurisdiction in the world has to manage that quantity of major events and has done so with MPD's success on a regular basis. 

These accomplishments have only been possible because of the organizational reforms Chief Ramsey has put into place. Under Chief Ramsey's leadership, the Metropolitan Police Department has a robust performance management system. Many of you may have seen first hand the way in which the Department now uses the most current technology to measure its performance not only month to month and week to week, but day to day. Before I close, I would add that being the Chief of the police department of the Nation's Capital carries with it a greater degree of responsibility and risk than in most jurisdictions. As host to the federal government, our police department helps provide protection to the president, vice president, and to dignitaries from all over the world. As the beacon of democracy, our city carries a higher risk of terrorist attack and requires a higher level of training, vigilance, and preparedness than any other city in this country. Chief Ramsey has demonstrated his ability to carry out these functions in these challenging times. Despite the increased focus on emergency preparedness in the District since September 11, Chief Ramsey continues to focus on his primary duty: protecting the day-to-day safety of the District's neighborhoods.

Since accepting the position, Chief Ramsey has done what he was charged to do: invest in the organization and infrastructure to achieve better public safety results. By no means do the Mayor or the Chief believe that the work is done reforming MPD or lowering crime enough. Both the Mayor and the Chief recognize that there is still much work to do to get this department where we all want it to be. We want lower crime, higher case closures, greater presence in the street, better service to victims of crime, and a 911 system that meets our demands for efficiency, responsiveness, and customer service.

The Mayor does believe, however, that Chief Ramsey has built a much stronger organization than existed five years ago, a department that is seeing lower crime and greater community legitimacy. The Mayor also believes that Chief Ramsey is the right person to continue to lead this organization into the future. I thank you for the opportunity to testify before you today and I look forward to answering any questions you may have.

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