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Charles H. Ramsey, Chief, Metropolitan Police Department
Laying the Foundation for a New Foundation
May 11, 1998




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Laying the Foundation for a New Beginning

The Next Steps

Two weeks ago I declared a new beginning for the Metropolitan Police Department. As with any new beginning, there will be changes. These changes will be significant and far-reaching, but they will also be informed and carefully thought out. Over the next few months, I will be taking a series of steps to prepare the MPD for the important changes that lie ahead. During this period, the focus will be on three key areas:

  • Assessing the Critical Needs of the Community and the Department;
  • Building Leadership Capacity; and
  • Developing a Plan of Action for the Future.

As the first chief in three decades selected from outside the MPD, I personally need to get a feel for the problems and issues facing our Department. I need to see and hear — firsthand —  what our strengths and weaknesses are, as well as those key areas where change is needed most. I plan to accomplish this by continuing to open up lines of communication within the Department and between the Department and the community. Much of the next few months will be spent hearing directly from those individuals with the greatest stake in our future: the members of the MPD and our customers in the community. Only by assessing their needs and concerns can our Department lay a solid foundation for change.

In the meantime, our Department must continue to live in our current house, even as we work toward building a new and better structure. If there are immediate problems that need repair — and I know there are — I will make those short-term fixes that keep the MPD moving forward. But our objective over the next few months remains steady: to get the MPD ready for the significant changes that will take place in our policing philosophy and in how we provide service to the people of the District and in the organization itself.

Assessing the Critical Needs of the Community and Our Department

In order to identify the strengths and weaknesses of the MPD, as well as those key areas where change is needed most, we will gather information using a variety of methods. These methods will include: open and candid discussions with Department members, community residents and key stakeholders; a review of existing information from reports and management studies; and third-party fact-finding activities. The outcome of this effort will be a detailed description of the nature and extent of MPD problems. To achieve this outcome, we will:

  • Assess Customer Needs

Conduct town hall meetings to identify the crime and disorder problems of most concern to the community, their opinions of current police service and their views on the role of police and community.

Conduct random, representative phone survey of community members to assess their perception of the effectiveness of police efforts, the relationship between police and residents at the district level and how they were treated by the police.

Meet with community, business and government leaders to determine their priorities and the contributions they can make to the community policing partnership.

Meet with media and union officials to discuss their role in the partnership and to ascertain what the MPD can do better to respond to their needs.

Visit neighborhoods to get a better appreciation for the diversity of the City.

  • Assess MPD Member Needs

Attend roll calls and ride with officers on all watches to become acquainted with the department and its members and to get a preliminary glimpse of potential talent.

Conduct survey of rank and file and supervisory staff to ascertain their perceptions of their job, their supervisors and the people they serve.

Interview Command members to determine their views of the Department's most pressing problems, to listen to their proposed solutions and to draw out their hopes for the future.

  • Assess Organization Needs

Review existing reports and studies.

Contract with an independent firm with experience in auditing law enforcement agencies to conduct a thorough audit of all MPD operations.

Building Leadership Capacity

In order to successfully transform the MPD, it is necessary to build a management team of individuals who are loyal and trustworthy; who possess superior management skills; who share my vision for the future; and who have the talent to motivate others to work toward that vision. The outcome of this effort will be a unified leadership with the ability and commitment to achieve the needed change. To achieve this outcome I will:

  • Interview current and potential command members to determine their experience, capability, and commitment.
  • Make command changes as necessary.
  • Recruit outside talent for the organization.

Developing a Plan of Action

The plan of action will guide a major shift not only in the Department's operations but in the culture as well. It will set the standard to which we will be held accountable. The outcome of this effort will be a clearly articulated and widely disseminated plan that will set the strategic direction for the Department for the next five years. To achieve this outcome we will:

  • Review the report of the independent auditor; assessments of the community, member, and organization needs; and results of other fact-finding activities.
  • Establish a strategic vision.
  • Draft a five-year, prioritized action plan that will be published and disseminated to all Department members and members of the community. This comprehensive plan will cover the following areas: integrity issues; resource allocation; the new service delivery model; organizational structure; fiscal responsibility; human resource development; systems infrastructure; and administrative processes.

I am moving aggressively toward my goal of making the Metropolitan Police Department the finest police department in the nation. I pledged to create an efficient, well-managed police department — one rooted in, and guided by, core values of honesty, integrity, respect for one another and for the community, fairness, dedication, commitment, and accountability for individual actions and organizational results. These steps lay the foundation for that new beginning.

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