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Testimony of Interim Chief of Police Sonya T. Proctor before the Council of the District of Columbia Committee on the Judiciary
February 11, 1998




Dorothy Brizill
Bonnie Cain
Jim Dougherty
Gary Imhoff
Phil Mendelson
Mark David Richards
Sandra Seegars


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Good afternoon Chairman Evans and members of the Judiciary committee. Thank you for this opportunity to discuss improvements that have been made since I was selected as the Interim Chief of Police for the Metropolitan Police Department. Upon conclusion of this statement, I also want to address some of the issues which have been raised in previous testimony today.

On behalf of the dedicated members of the Metropolitan Police Department, I am very proud to inform you that the achievements made last year in reducing crime in the District of Columbia have continued into 1998. In 1997 we experienced a 19 percent reduction in total Part I offenses and a 24 percent reduction in homicides. So far in 1998, we have reduced Part I offenses by 25 percent and homicides by 39 percent. These reductions reflect the recent improvements that have been made in department operations, the tremendous efforts of the men and women who make up the Metropolitan Police Department, and the invaluable contribution that citizens have made to fighting crime and making our city safe once more. I was recently privileged to honor 60 citizens groups for their contribution and role in reducing crime in our city.

Since being selected to serve as the Interim Chief of Police, I have initiated several actions to: improve the department's operations; to address questions of ethics and integrity; and to enhance our ability to reduce crime in our communities, particularly in the areas of violent crime and drugs. I will now take a few minutes to describe some of the key improvements that have been made.

Last month I published a Code of Ethics that clearly communicates to the department's employees the standards that I believe the community has a right to expect from public servants. This Code of Ethics is intended to reinforce just that fact: police officers are public servants and must be responsive to and earn the trust and confidence of the community they serve. I can assure you that I take this code of Ethics seriously and that I fully expect every man and woman employed by the Metropolitan Police Department, whether sworn or civilian, irrespective of rank, grade or position, to fully share those values.

In conjunction with the Code of Ethics, I have also issued a directive to the force concerning personnel appearance, professional conduct, and inappropriate behavior and language. Ensuring the professional conduct of department personnel is clearly a major priority of mine and the members of my command staff. An ethics component is being added to our application process and by May of this year, all members of the department will have participated in self-directed ethics training.

In December I initiated an in-depth review of the department's internal citizen complaint process with the objective of making it more responsive to the community. Nearly completed, my goal is to have a process that is responsive to citizen's concerns; a process that treats citizens honestly and fairly; a system that gives citizens a timely and personal response; and a system that the community perceives to be fair and effective.

I have appointed two outstanding individuals to serve as Assistant Chiefs of Police, Assistant Chief Robert C. White and Assistant Chief Alfred Broadbent. I am confident that they bring to their positions a renewed since of urgency and dedication to reducing crime and returning the department to the national status that it once held.

At my direction, the department's Chief Financial Officer has instituted a new system for monitoring the department's overtime. A weekly detailed report is now prepared describing the department's use of overtime. In addition, the executive staff prepares activity reports for all currently authorized overtime to evaluate its effectiveness. All requests for overtime must describe, in detail, the reason for the request, the specific objectives to be achieved, the reason(s) the objective cannot be achieved during regular working hours, how the overtime hours will be targeted, and the indicators that will be used to measure effectiveness. All future overtime use will be thoroughly documented, with multiple review and approval levels.

Goals and objectives have been established for CY 1998. These include: a 15 percent reduction in crime, which is being exceeded; a 50 percent increase in citizen's respect and trust of the police; a 50 percent reduction in visible public disorder; and the elimination of open air drug markets operating within the seven police districts.

We are continuing the process of returning police officers to the patrol districts and increasing the number of police officers who are serving in the Patrol Service Areas (PSA). To achieve this goal:

  • Sworn members of the department in administrative and other support positions are assigned to work at least one day a week in those PSAs experiencing crime problems;
  • Members of the Police Reserve Corps are being assigned to specific PSAs, the same as our district patrol personnel;
  • Members of the Special Operations Division are assigned to targeted PSAs, in particular PSAs that are experiencing a specific crime problem;
  • District commanders are ensuring continued adherence to the PSAs minimum staffing policy and that PSA staffing is given the highest priority at the seven patrol districts; and
  • A process has been initiated whereby 50 percent of the sworn personnel serving in administrative support positions are being reassigned permanently to the PSAs. On February 8th 28 members were reassigned to the PSAs and over the next 60 days we anticipate that an additional 100 members will be sent to the PSAs. At the same time, we are conducting an assessment of all administrative positions to identify those which can be combined or eliminated entirely.

To provide the PSAs with additional support to address crimes involving the use of firearms, the department's Gun Recovery Unit has been consolidated in the Criminal Investigations Division. This unit works in coordination with individual PSAs teams to target problem areas citywide. This specialized unit is NOT staffed by removing officers from the PSAs.

It is being proposed that the sworn members of the department be given a 13 percent raise over the next two years. As a result of this raise, our sworn members will be at a pay level that is commensurate with surrounding jurisdictions and at a pay level to which I believe the they are entitled. I should point out, however, that the pay raise is no free lunch. For the first time that I am aware, members of the department will be required to achieve a specified level of performance in order to be eligible for the pay raise.

In closing this statement, I would like to say that I am proud of our recent accomplishments and of the many outstanding men and women who are dedicated to serving the citizens of the District of Columbia. And while we have come a long way, I and the members of my executive team understand that we still have a long way to go.


Thank you Mr. Chairman for the opportunity to address the committee. The executive staff and I will now be happy to answer any questions that you might have.

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