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Testimony of Chief of Police Larry D. Soulsby
to the District of Columbia Financial Responsibility and Management Authority
October 22, 1997




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


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Good afternoon, Chairman Brimmer and members of the District of Columbia Financial Responsibility and Management Assistance Authority. It is a pleasure to appear before you this afternoon to discuss the progress which the Metropolitan Police Department has made over the past nine months.

On February 26, 1997, Mayor Marion Barry, Jr., established a new charter for the Metropolitan Police Department which designated the Chief of Police as the chief executive officer of the agency, with full responsibility for all department operations. The MOU Partners group, which was created in December of 1996, fully supported the new charter for the Chief of Police and established basic performance objectives for 1997. The Control Board has given me the authority, funding, encouragement, and support to meet those objectives.

Shortly after the new charter was published, based on my experience and knowledge of the agency, the existing executive staff was replaced with my new leadership team. You should note that I intentionally use the word team. The new leadership team operates in a completely different atmosphere than the one which existed under the department's old organizational culture.

The hallmark of my leadership team is open lines of communication. The emphasis is on building the department's achievements and working together to solve problems, not on protecting turf and keeping problems locked or hidden away behind closed doors.

Many of the accomplishments the leadership team and I will speak about later are the results of this new management style. It is a management style based on communication, both up and down the chain of command. The new Mission Performance Reviews and Patrol Service Area Reviews that were instituted this month are viewed as pipelines for this communication. The objective of the reviews is to encourage communication -- between officers and citizens, between PSA teams, between patrol and support units, between individual sworn and civilian employees -- so that as a department team, we build on our accomplishments and learn from our mistakes with the objective of continuous and value-added improvement.

The department instituted a comprehensive Enhanced Enforcement Effort on March 7, 1997, to demonstrate to the community that the Metropolitan Police Department can transition from a reactive force to one that is a proactive crime fighter and neighborhood problem-solver. At the heart of this effort was a zero tolerance for minor crimes, similar to the widely recognized effort in New York City. The Enhanced Enforcement Effort was targeted at specific crime, order maintenance, and nuisance locations in each of the department's seven patrol districts. The.results proved that crime can be reduced by a strong proactive, problem-oriented policing strategy. The Enhanced Enforcement Effort gave an additional spark to a general decline in the city-wide crime statistics.

The department implemented a New Operating Model in July which has brought our front line service providers, the officers and sergeants, closer to the community. We have increased the number of officers on neighborhood patrol from 578 to over 1,461 in the new Patrol Service Areas. These officers were not simply moved from behind a desk to the street. Many were moved from duties that were nominally in patrol, but were assigned to office-based specialized units having little interaction with street patrol officers. Today, all of these redeployed officers are working in neighborhoods to eliminate crime, prevent disorder, and build bridges of respect and trust with the community. The implementation is going very well and appears to hold great promise for the future. We are hopeful that citizens will become more and more involved over the coming months.

I am pleased to report that crime citywide is down 18% for 1997. (New York City, accepted by many as the current "national benchmark", achieved a 12% crime reduction in the first year of its departmental restructuring.) Homicides are down 26% -- there have been 90 fewer murders in this city in 1997 than in 1996. In fact, homicides are at a ten year low at this point in the year. While aggravated assaults are down 6%, it should be noted that firearms assaults -- assaults with guns -- are down 21% from last year. There have been 256 fewer people assaulted with firearms in this city this year.

The Authority contracted with Booz-Allen & Hamilton in January to provide a comprehensive management review of the department. This review was intended to be an across the board evaluation of operations, deployment, infrastructure, and technology support. This review has facilitated the development of a new District Policing Strategy, the New Operating Model for the department, the first revision in 30 years to the department's service delivery structure, an expert evaluation of the Homicide Branch, and several detailed ongoing studies of critical support services for field operations.

The several studies produced by the consultant have resulted in the identification of many problems and areas where improvement is sorely needed. In a significant cultural change for the department, the leadership team has encouraged open communications with the consultant at all levels of the agency. Our employees have responded to this cultural change by coming forward themselves to identify many of the problem areas and to propose solutions based on their knowledge and experience. Recently, some of these problems and deficiencies have nearly become the exclusive focus of public and media attention. The impression has been given that these are issues which have been intentionally avoided. Nothing could be further from the truth.

The department's leadership team, command staff, managers, and rank and file employees have participated with the consultants in every phase of the studies. Groups of department employees, both sworn and civilian, developed the New Operating Model and the District Policing Strategy, pointed out deficiencies in operations and procedures, and suggested solutions and policy changes. I could go on with additional examples but, the point is, we have embraced the need for change. The leadership team is making change happen and is committed to carrying this process through until the Metropolitan Police Department is the best-in-class -- the leader in municipal law enforcement. We are achieving lasting changes, not as individuals, but within a well-run department built on teamwork.

Many of the department's problems resulted from a lack of political will to confront issues, an apparent desire of some individuals not to display their shortcomings, or a lack of funding. Years of being forced to "do more with less" resulted in many individuals doing nothing at all. One of the best benefits of the MOU Partners group and our new leadership team is an open commitment to address any problem, find a solution, and improve service to the community.

The Milestones Report which I am presenting will, I believe, show that we have made tremendous progress in the six months since the baseline report was published. Note that I said six months -- six months. We have not studied and planned for months or years -- we have made progress and implemented basic restructuring in just six months. There is much more that remains to be done and I am committed to moving this process forward without delay.

The Metropolitan Police Department's leadership team is focused on our mission: the elimination of crime, the fear of crime, and general disorder, while establishing respect and trust within the community. We will do all that is possible to support the line officers and sergeants on the street with the skills, the equipment, and the motivation to successfully achieve that mission and serve the citizens of the District of Columbia.

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