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Report of the Special Committee on Police Misconduct and Personnel Management of the Council of the District of Columbia
October 6, 1998

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INTRODUCTION

On December 16, 1997, by emergency resolution. the Council of the District of Columbia created the Special Committee on Police Misconduct and Personnel Management (the “Special Committee”). Following hearings conducted by the Committee on Government Operations and the Committee on the Judiciary in Fall 1997, the Council declared that allegations of misconduct, mismanagement, inadequate recordkeeping and other improprieties in the Metropolitan Police Department (“MPD”) necessitated an immediate legislative investigation to identify and correct problems in the operation of the police function and to restore public confidence in the MPD. The Special Committee consists of all members of the Council. Its co-chairs are Councilmembers Jack Evans and Kathy Patterson. The Special Committee appointed Mark H. Tuohey III. a member of the law firm of Vinson & Elkins L.L.P., as Special Counsel to assist and advise the Co-Chairpersons in the conduct of the investigation.

The Special Committee conducted its legislative oversight investigation of the MPD between February and September, 1998. It conducted extensive factfinding in a number of areas and held six public hearings.

Major recommendations detailed in this report are reflected in proposed omnibus legislation that will be introduced in the Council and referred to the Committee on the Judiciary.

In addition to the significant policy recommendations contained herein, the Special Committee proposes several areas for additional study through legislative oversight by the Council. Further, the Special Committee recommends that the Council adopt the intensive work of the Special Committee as a model for ongoing oversight undertaken by the District's elected legislature. with the goal of achieving an efficient and effective government in all other policy and program areas.

The Special Committee would like to acknowledge the valuable contributions of many persons without whose assistance the investigation and this Report could not have been possible.

  • The members of the MPD and the District of Columbia community who took the time to meet with the Committee and the Special Counsel, speak about their concerns and ideas, and respond to our questions. In particular, Terry Ryan, the MPD's General Counsel, and inspector Kim Dine, Director, Office of Professional Responsibility, served as the Department's liaisons to the Committee's investigation, and facilitated Special Counsel's review of numerous MPD files.
  • Chief of Police Charles Ramsey and Executive Assistant Chief Terrance Gainer who immediately became engaged in the Committee's work and have taken the opportunity to discuss the preliminary findings and begin the process of implementation. MPD's Chief Financial Officer Eric Coard, Procurement Director Joseph Moore and TACIS Director Alfonza Kelly have been helpful to the Committee. Finally, the Special Committee acknowledges the cooperation of the district commanders in the investigation.
  • U.S. Attorney Wilma Lewis and her senior staff for their contribution of time and information, and their pledge of continuing cooperation to the Council.
  • Chief Judge Eugene Hamilton and Judge Franklin Burgess of the Superior Court for their views on Court overtime.
  • D.C. Inspector General E. Barrett Prettyman, Jr. and his staff for their cooperation with Special Counsel, and the Special Committee Co-chairs, on a regular basis.
  • Richard Fite, the District of Columbia's Chief Procurement Officer, for his valuable assistance on procurement and property issues.
  • Professor Samuel Dash of the Georgetown University Law Center for his assistance in shaping the methodology and procedures of this historic legislative oversight investigation.
  • The professional staff of the Council Judiciary Committee, in particular, Michelle Sedgewick, and the Secretary of the Council, Phyllis Jones, for their insight, input, and assistance.
  • Current and Former police executives and experts in the field of law enforcement who gave their time and experience to assist in the investigation and the formulation of best practices:
  • Clifford L. Karchmer
    Police Executive Research Forum
    Washington, DC
  • Patrick Murphy, Director
    Police Policy Board
    U.S. Conference of Mayors
    (Former New York City Police Commissioner)
  • Cornelius Behan
    Training Consultant
    Maryland Department of Law Enforcement
    (Former Director of Training, New York City Police Department)
  • John Timmoney
    Police Commissioner
    Philadelphia Police Department
  • William Good
    Chief of Administrative Services Bureau
    Boston Police Department
  • Lt. Timothy Ottmeier
    Director of Training
    Houston Police Department
  • Michael Hoke
    Assistant Deputy Superintendent
    Chicago Police Department
  • Sergeant Jean Roy
    Chicago Police Department
  • William Bratton
    Former Police Commissioner
    NYC Police Department
  • Jean Bernard and Janis Froelich
    Volunteer and Community Resources Division
    Montgomery County Police Department
  • Ronald Goldstock
    Kroll Associates
    New York City
  • San Diego Police Department
  • Dallas Police Department
  • Fairfax, County Police Department
  • Prince George's County Police Department
  • International Association of Chiefs of Police

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Chapter 1: EXECUTIVE SUMMARY AND MAJOR RECOMMENDATIONS

The Special Committee on Police Misconduct and Personnel Management ("Special Committee") conducted its legislative oversight investigation of the MPD between February and September. 1998. The Special Committee identified the types of misconduct and/or mismanagement that allegedly affected the MPD's ability to provide public safety in a professional manner throughout the District of Columbia. The Special Committee conducted fact-finding in each of the areas in order to determine the nature and extent of the problems and assessed what changes in laws. procedures and practices could be implemented to correct these problems. The Special Committee then held 6 public hearings, one on each major area, in order to inform itself and the public of the nature of the problems.

The Special Committee issued more than 150 subpoenas for witness testimony and documents, and Special Counsel conducted approximately 175 witness interviews and reviewed several thousand pages of documents. In addition, the Special Counsel sought citizen input by meeting with community groups in each of the police districts, and sought best practices by interviewing experts in law enforcement and representatives of other police departments.

The investigation focused on six issues that have significant implications for the MPD:

  • Whistleblowers and Retaliation in the MPD;
  • Recruiting, Training and Performance Evaluation;
  • Management of Overtime and Off-Duty Employment.
  • Management of Equipment, Property and Information Technology;
  • Investigation and Discipline of Police Misconduct; and
  • Citizen Interaction and Community Policing.

The Report identifies substantial problems in the prior leadership and management of the Department. In the recent past, the MPD suffered from a lack of leadership and professional management. The Special Committee believes that the failure of leadership has been a primary cause of lack of public confidence in law enforcement in the District and the overriding reason for internal strife, operational inefficiency and low morale among officers of the MPD. The many men and women of the MPD, sworn and civilian, demonstrate their commitment, dedication and professionalism each day. They deserve a work environment and a responsive command to match their devotion. Members of the Special Committee believe that the recommendations in this Report, once enacted and implemented, will create a more professional police department.

A core problem identified throughout the investigation is the lack of strategic planning in both the structure and operations of the MPD. For many years, the MPD adopted a purely reactive posture, and approached far too many problems with a crisis mentality. Moreover. ineffectual decisionmaking precipitated conflict between operational groups, a lack of stability within the command structure, poor hiring decisions, and an inadequate level of services to the citizens As former New York Police Commissioner and District of Columbia Public Safety Director. Patrick Murphy, testified at the initial hearing, "the business of policing is all about dealing with people . . . and the tone has to be set at the top."

The following is a brief summary of the Special Committee's findings in each of the six major subject areas.

Whistleblower Protection

The Special Committee endorses the recent amendments strengthening existing whistleblower protection.1 The statute affirmatively requires District employees to report misconduct and shields them from retaliation for fulfilling this duty. The Special Committee also recommends that the MPD designate an office responsible for receiving accounts of misconduct or mismanagement and will safeguard the identity of those who come forward.

Recruitment and Training

In recruiting and training, the Special Committee proposes a comprehensive statute as part of the proposed omnibus legislation establishing minimum standards for applicants. The proposal would include a thorough background review and mandatory training for both veteran police officers and new recruits. The mandatory training will include communication skills. report writing. tactical skills, weapons and automobile proficiency, diversity training, and domestic violence. It will require all supervisors and all officers to receive specialized instruction in their areas of responsibility.

Off-duty and Overtime

The Special Committee also identified the management of overtime and off-duty employment as impediments to public safety. The Special Committee recommends legislation that will restrict off-duty employment (including an outright prohibition on work at ABC establishments), the type of off-duty work permitted, the administration of the work, and the maximum number of hours allowed. On the issue of overtime, the Special Committee recommends that the MPD's Chief Financial Officer work with the Chief Financial Officer for the District of Columbia and the Council to achieve "truth in budgeting" in developing realistic annual budgets for overtime. The Special Committee recommends that the Chief of Police, the Chief Judge of the Superior Court of the District of Columbia and the United States Attorney for the District of Columbia work to develop a workable "on-call" system that will allow officers to remain on duty in their work environments, until needed for court appearances.

Equipment, Property, and Information Technology

No effective law enforcement agency can expect its members to serve and protect the community, and in the context of community policing become proactive problem solvers. without proper equipment and facilities. The Special Committee finds that the management of equipment. property, material and information technology has been substandard. The Special Committee commends the recent efforts of MPD officials in the areas of finance and procurement and District CPO Richard Fite for their efforts to streamline and professionalize the process by which equipment gets to the field and information to the police officer on the street. Nevertheless, more needs to be done. The Special Committee recommends a number of changes:

  • a streamlined process that gives unit commanders the authority to set budgets for the purchase of equipment and holds them accountable for acquisitions;
  • a revised system to procure, distribute and inventory property;
  • a system of purchase and repair of police automobiles that ensures that there are, at all times, a sufficient number of functional vehicles to conduct police operations; and
  • an immediate facilities audit in order to develop a plan for systematic renovation, repair and preventative maintenance on station houses and other facilities.

The Special Committee also finds the communication system for emergency police and fire services inadequate. Proposed information technology improvements must be expedited and sufficient funds must be allocated to assure that citizens will have adequate police, fire and ambulance response to preserve public safety and save lives.

Community Policing

In the area of citizen interaction with the Police Department, the Special Committee examined police/community relations in the new environment of community policing. The Special Committee is concerned that the MPD, in the attempt hurriedly to implement community policing, has failed to appreciate its core philosophy: police as problem solvers -- not just crime fighters. In so doing, MPD has not focused on management and operational issues involved in affecting a change in police culture. The MPD must ensure stability in the Patrol Service Area ("PSA") system by requiring officers and officials to sign onto minimum time commitments in the PSA. In addition, the Chief should take all steps necessary to assure that the PSAs have adequate staffing and training. The community prosecution program initiated by the United States Attorney's Office ("USAO") in the Fifth District should be extended throughout the seven police districts of the city. Finally, the Special Committee strongly encourages the development of a citizen volunteer program that matches the needs of the police department with the resources of the community.

Discipline

In the area of department discipline. the Special Committee finds that the system for discipliners investigations, including citizen complaints of police misconduct. needs substantial revision. The Special Committee recommends adoption of a system that assures that investigations of police misconduct are expeditious but thorough; fair but accountable. In addition. the Special Committee recommends the adoption of an early warning and intervention system for officers are repeatedly the subject of complaints in order to confront problems before they become a matter of public safety. Finally, the Special Committee recommends the review and adoption of legislation to prohibit persons under disciplinary investigation from avoiding the imposition of discipline by retiring or resigning from the force.

The Special Committee did not find evidence of extensive or institutional police corruption, as that term is commonly understood — that is, instances of systematic and serious violations of law or policy by the police. Nevertheless, the investigation did uncover instances of misconduct by individual police officers that appeared to be violations of MPD policy and District of Columbia law. The Committee referred each such allegation to the appropriate law enforcement agency. including the MPD Office of Professional Responsibility, the District of Columbia Inspector General. or the United States Attorney's Office.

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MAJOR RECOMMENDATIONS

I. Statutory Changes

The Special Committee proposes the following statutory reforms drafted as the District of Columbia Omnibus Police Reform Act of 1998 to be introduced in the Council and considered as expeditiously as possible. See Chapter 6 for the text of proposed legislation.

1.1 Recruiting and Training — The Council should adopt a comprehensive statute setting mandatory standards for recruiting and training for the MPD. First, the proposal sets minimum standards for candidates, including increasing the educational requirements to a minimum of two years of college training for new recruits. In addition, the statute prohibits the MPD from hiring an applicant without a full background check, including a review of juvenile criminal records. Each candidate would undergo a complete physical and mental health evaluation after the completion of the background check. Second, the statute requires a comprehensive recruit training program, including a specified minimum number of hours of instruction in constitutional and statutory law, criminal investigation, oral and written communication skills, report writing, community relations, crisis intervention, diversity training and domestic violence training. Third, the statute establishes an annual 32-hour mandatory in-service training program encompassing mandatory subjects and elective subjects consistent with the career development of the officer. Fourth, each officer is required to complete annually a firearms recertification course and, where necessary an automobile skills recertification course. Fifth, statute establishes minimum instructor qualifications. Finally it requires the Chief of Police to submit an annual training report to the Mayor and the Council.

1.2 Off-Duty Employment — The Council should adopt legislation revising the standards for off- duty employment. The proposed statute prohibits off-duty employment in establishments licensed by the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs' Alcoholic Beverage Control Division ("ABC establishments") and establishes the maximum number of hours permitted for all police-related employment, including overtime, off-duty, and regular duty work. Finally. the statute will require the Chief to establish a comprehensive system for the administration of all off-duty employment including provisions for registration and remuneration of police officers performing a police function in an off-duty employment situation.

1.3 Seized Currency — The Council should adopt legislation that authorizes the MPD to deposit monies seized or held in connection with law enforcement activity in an interest-bearing account in a financial institution pending criminal prosecution, forfeiture, or other disposition.

1.4 Retirement/Resignation While Under Investigation — The Council should adopt legislation to prohibit persons under disciplinary investigation from avoiding the consequences of such investigation or any adverse findings in connection therewith by virtue of retirement or resignation from the police department.

1.5 Whistleblower Protection — The Council has already enacted the Whistleblower Reinforcement Act of 1998, D.C. Act 12-398. The Council should monitor closely the implementation of this Act, particularly in the MPD. to ensure proper and fair enforcement.

1.6 Citizen Complaints — The Council also has passed legislation (Bill 12-521), on a first reading, to re-establish a civilian review panel over the MPD. The Special Committee endorses this legislation, but believes that strict oversight is necessary to ensure that citizen complaints are handled in a fair. expeditious, and effective manner.

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II. Regulatory Changes

2.1 The District of Columbia Personnel Regulations should be reviewed and amended to provide for new employment standards for the MPD consistent with the statute.

2.2 The Council should adopt new regulations for the implementation of citizen volunteers to work at the MPD in a non-law enforcement administrative support capacity.

III. Metropolitan Police Department Operating Procedure Changes

3.1 The MPD General Orders must be revised and reissued. Currently General Orders are out of date, internally inconsistent. and in some important aspects. lacking in specificity. The Special Committee urges the Chief to conduct a systematic review of the General Orders with the goal of issuing a streamlined, modernized set of rules and regulations.

3.2 All Special Orders or other directives from the Chief of Police or his designee should be reviewed to ensure consistency with the General Orders, clarity of policy. and uniformity of application. All directives from the Chief of Police that affect MPD policy should be reduced to writing and stated in either a General Order or a Special Order. Finally, all General and Special Orders should be made available to each member of the MPD in hard copy as well as in a form compatible with the information technology of the Department.

3 3 The Special Committee recommends that revised operating procedures for recruiting and training be adopted to conform with the recommended statute. These would include:

  1. Recruitment Standards
  2. Recruitment Procedures
  3. Recruit Training
  4. In-Service Training
  5. Specialized Training
  6. Minimum Standards for Instructors

3.4 The Special Committee recommends that the Department continue strict adherence to the court overtime procedures included in the recent Memorandum of Understanding ("MOU") between the MPD and the USAO.

3.5 The Special Committee recommends that the Department revise the procedures for the administration and approval of off-duty employment' consistent with this Report and the omnibus legislation, to eliminate officers "brokering'' other officers' off-duty work.

3.6 The Special Committee recommends that revised operating procedures for procurement be adopted, consistent with the Procurement Reform Amendment Act of 19972 to provide for the following:

  1. procedures for the purchase of equipment and supplies at the district/unit level on an expeditious basis;
  2. procedures for the purchase of uniforms and related equipment by individual police officers;
  3. procedures for the procurement and regular preventive maintenance of police vehicles;
  4. a policy to hold the drivers, vehicle maintenance officers and commanders accountable for the condition of such vehicles, and
  5. procedures for improved inventory control.

3.7 The Special Committee recommends that the administrative handling and storage of evidence be separated from the Property Division. Revised operating procedures for the handling of evidence should be adopted, consistent with recommendation 1.3 above, providing for the deposit of currency in a financial institution pending criminal proceedings or other disposition.

3.8 The Special Committee recommends the Department overhaul the operating procedures for internal investigation of police misconduct to provide for a centralized system similar to that of the Chicago Police Department. These revised procedures should include:

  1. initial referral to and overall coordination by the Office of Professional Responsibility;
  2. a centralized system for tracking discipline within the Department;
  3. a specialized recruitment and training program for internal Affairs officers;
  4. a comprehensive procedures manual for the Office of internal Affairs that provides clear guidance on investigative procedures and liaison with other law enforcement agencies;
  5. an early warning and intervention system for officers who are repeatedly the subject of complaints, including provisions for appropriate intervention;
  6. revised procedures for the institution of discipline at the district/unit level and the department level; and
  7. procedures for the review of disciplinary decisions by the Chief of Police.

3.9 The Special Committee recommends that MPD revise and/or create operating procedures for a citizen volunteer program to permit citizens to participate in the wore; of the MPD in non-enforcement. administrative capacities. The standards for the use of volunteers should be totally revamped to accommodate the wide range of resources in the community .

3.10 The Special Committee recommends that MPD establish procedures to institutionalize the role of citizen volunteers in the work of the MPD. to include procedures for interaction between the district commanders and the Citizens Advisory Council (CAC) on a regular basis, procedures for interaction and coordination with other community-based groups, e.g. Orange Hat patrols and similar civic efforts, and clearer procedures for informal individual complaints about police misconduct or management issues.

3.11 The Special Committee recommends that the MPD revise and reissue its policies on requirements for promotion to the Command Staff. Such policies should state that leadership positions in the Department will be based solely on merit, achievement, and experience.

3.12 The Special Committee recommends that the MPD review its policy concerning the payment of police overtime at private events, such as the MCI Arena. movie detail and community events and establish an equitable and consistent policy to cover such situations.

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IV. Management Recommendations

4.1 The Chief of Police should create a centralized research and planning unit to develop a comprehensive long-term strategic plan for the entire department. This unit should have sufficient resources so that the Chief, Command Staff and all MPD officers have the information necessary to engage in problem solving in an informed and coordinated manner.

4.2 The Chief should implement a policy that promotions and retention of the Command Staff are based on merit, achievement and experience, rather than friendship, connections or loyalty.

4.3 In addition to the revision of the General Orders, the Department should take immediate steps to prepare a policies and procedures manual — available in hard copy and on computer disk — to assist each member of the Department to serve the community more effectively as a problem solver.

4.4 The MPD should evaluate immediately the adequacy of its planning and implementation for "community policing." Such evaluation should include a plan for short-term correction (e.g., bringing each PSA up to proper staffing level) and long-term implementation (e.g., proper training of officers and officials in problem-solving skills, career path track for PSA leaders, etc.).

4.5 The Department should move quickly to develop and implement a performance appraisal system for all Command Staff, police officers employees as called for and consistent with the recently passed Omnibus Personnel Act of 1998. The system should provide objective criteria for evaluation of an individual's performance and should allow for his views and opinions to be considered.

4.6 The MPD should develop an operating philosophy and methodology to hold Commanders and Supervisory Staff accountable for the performance of their officers and the goals and objectives of the Department as required by the Government Managers Accountability Amendment Act of 1995 ("GMAA")3 and the Omnibus Personnel Act of 1998.

4.7 The MPD should continue the development of a new financial planning and budgeting process that provides for centralized informal budget plans and permits each commander to prepare, implement and be held accountable to an annual budget.

4.8 The MPD should implement all components of the Information Technology Initiative.

4.9 The MPD's information systems should be designed to provide measures of the performance of each unit and the Department as a whole. These reports should be routinely made available to the Mayor, the Council and the public.

4.10 The MPD's internal investigations and discipline function should be consolidated under the Office of Professional Responsibility and the Commanding Officer should report directly to the Chief of Police.

4.11 The MPD should require each officer. to undergo physical and mental health examination at the Police and Fire Clinic once within each 24-month period of service. Additionally, if a supervisor of a police officer determines at any time that a physical or mental health evaluation is required in the best interests of the Department, the officer. will be referred to the Police and Fire Clinic.

4.12 The MPD should designate an official within the Office of General Counsel or Office of Professional Responsibility to handle whistleblower and retaliation allegations. That official would prepare an annual report for the Council.

4.13 The MPD should present an overtime audit and progress report to the Council within one year.

4.14 The MPD should publish an annual report to the public including information on crime statistics, department initiatives, police discipline, awards and commendations and other information which the community would find to be of interest

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Chapter 2: FURTHER COUNCIL INQUIRY

The Special Committee's investigation of the Metropolitan Police Department represents the most intensive legislative oversight effort by the District of Columbia Council. The Special Committee recommends that this inquiry become a template for future Council oversight of the District of Columbia government generally. The success of such future efforts will depend in large part on the Council s follow through on this Report. The Council, particularly the Committee on the Judiciary. must take an active role in ensuring that the policy proposals contained in this Report are fully implemented. Below is an outline of areas that require further Council action:

  • Enactment of legislation consistent with the proposed District of Columbia Omnibus Police Reform Act of 1998, see Chapter 6;

  • Monitoring implementation of the Whistleblower Reinforcement Protection Act by the Council Committee on Government Operations to ensure that there is no `'reverse retaliation" against supervisors for legitimate discipline of misconduct, see Chapter 4, B;

  • Oversight of the MPD's adoption of new recruit and in-service training programs and requirements, in consultation with law enforcement experts, see Chapter 4, C;

  • Oversight of the MPD's weapons certification process should ensure that all MPD officers receive appropriate weapons training and remain in compliance with weapons certification requirements, see Chapter 4, C;

  • Mandating a complete review and updating of all MPD General and Special Orders to ensure that the rules and regulations that guide MPD's activities are up to date, relevant to MPD's current operations, and are consistently applied and followed, see Chapter 4, C, E;

  • Mandating a MPD audit and progress report of its effort to control overtime expenditures, and its cooperation with the U.S. Attorney and the Superior Court in fashioning a workable "on-call" system for court appearances, see Chapter 4, D;

  • Ensuring that the MPD adopts a comprehensive system that regulates off-duty work by MPD officers and eliminates the abuses of off-duty work identified by the Special Committee, see Chapter 4, D.

  • Ensuring that the MPD adopts a comprehensive system that regulates overtime work assignments providing security at private and community events and ensures that the security, economic and community needs involved in such assignments addressed equitably and consistently, see Chapter 4, D;

  • Assessment of the MPD's efforts and progress. together with the District Chief Procurement Officer and Chief Financial Officer:
    (i) to streamline its procurement process,
    (ii) to ensure reliable fleet management,
    (iii) to modernize its communications capabilities, and
    (iv) implement the Information Technology initiative, see Chapter 4, E;

  • Regular periodic review of the operations of the Office of Citizen Complaint Review and the revitalized Civilian Complaint Review Board to ensure that it does not suffer from the inefficiency and backlog of its predecessor, see Chapter 4, F; and

  • Ensuring that the MPD adopts a centralized, comprehensive system that fairly, efficiently. and equitably administers discipline for misconduct, see Chapter 4, G.

Continuous and vigorous Council oversight along these lines will lend credibility to future legislative inquiries as well as ensure the immediate goal of promoting public faith and operational efficiency in the MPD.

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