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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




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


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A. Structure and Staffing

The Chief of Police is appointed by the Mayor and confirmed by the Council.4 The current Chief, Charles H. Ramsey, was appointed on April 10, 1998. As of September 1, 1998. the Chief presided over a Department of 3555 sworn officers and 642 civilians, although the Department s authorized strength for 1998 is 3,800 sworn officers and 722 civilians.

For the past several years, the Department has been organized into five control centers.5

  • Office of the Chief of Police provides departmental administration. including public information, legal counsel, and technical financial and budgetary oversight. This control center also includes the Department's Office of Professional Responsibility which manages the Office of internal Affairs.

  • Patrol Services Bureau, headed by an Assistant Chief. delivers police service throughout the District through a network of seven geographically based police districts, each headed by a Commander. In July 1997, as part of the transition to community policing, the MPD altered the boundaries of some districts and replaced the old "beats" with 83 Patrol Service Areas (PSAs). Each of the 7 police districts was divided into approximately 12 PSAs that are commanded by a PSA Sergeant and staffed by approximately 20 sworn officers..

  • Support Services Bureau, headed by an Assistant Chief, consists of the Criminal investigations Division (CID) which includes the homicide. sex, robbery and burglary branches; the Narcotics and Special investigations Division ("NSID");theSpecial Operations Division (SOD), which handles special events and unusual law enforcement situations: the Y outh and Family Services Division; and the Traffic Division.

  • Human Resources Bureau, headed by an Assistant Chief, consists of the Labor Relations Division; Disciplinary Review Division: Court Liaison Division; Medical Services Division; Training Division; Personnel Division and Recruiting Division.

  • Technical Services Bureau, headed by an Assistant Chief, consists of the information Services Division, Communications Division, Identification and Records Division, Fleet Management Division and Property Division.

Of the 3555 sworn officers, the vast majority work in Patrol Services and form the bulk of the community policing initiative. The number of sworn officers has not increased significantly since 1980, except for the congressionally-mandated action in 1989 to hire 900 additional of ficers. The Department hires approximately 150-200 officers each year.

The remaining sworn officers, augmented by civilian personnel. work in specialized areas of policing, including investigation. administration and technical support services. The proper allocation of sworn officers and civilian personnel. including the addition of a realistic civilian volunteer program that serves non-patrol administrative functions needs to be addressed. Notwithstanding the dedication of many police officers.. it is the community's perception that there are far too few police officers working in the community as trained problem solvers. There is no greater or more urgent task for the new Chief than to staff fully the PSAs with trained officers and managers.

On September 9, 1998, Chief Ramsey announced a department-wide restructuring that will replace the "Bureau" system described above.6 In its place, the MPD will be organized into three regional command centers ("ROCs"): the northern ROC (Second and Fourth Districts), the central ROC (First, Third, and Fifth Districts), and the eastern ROC (Sixth and Seventh Districts). An Assistant Chief will lead each ROC and maintain an office in the field rather than at headquarters. In addition. former headquarters- based units, such as Homicide, will be reorganized and reassigned to the districts. The PSA system will remain in place, but each PSA will be led by a lieutenant and up to six sergeants. While it is far too early to assess the success of the reorganization, the members of the Special Committee support the effort to enhance community policing by moving management into the community . Although this Report was drafted with the prior structure in mind. the Special Committee's recommendations should be readily adaptable to the new organization.

B. Leadership and Decisionmaking

The Chief of Police and the senior command staff set the vision. operational style and tone for the entire Department. The leadership sets standards for the performance of police officers and the involvement of the community. The MPD's historic failure to confront these responsibilities and make commanders accountable for performance affects the quality of public safety and diminishes the community's confidence in the police department.

The Special Committee heard substantial testimony and anecdotal evidence that in recent years MPD leadership failed to set a tone of professionalism and to develop a vision for the organization. Evidence points to arbitrary personnel decisions (e.g., individuals based on loyalty rather than merit) and politically-inspired decisionmaking. In numerous and significant ways, the Department has been poorly managed. As a result, the rank and file officers are demoralized and the MPD's stature is diminished in the public's view. Recent reports of scandals at the top, including allegations involving former Chief Larry Soulsby, have further undermined the public's confidence in the police force.

The Special Committee believes that mismanagement of the MPD is the primary cause of public concern, and it is leadership and management issues that are the focus of the Report. The Special Committee welcomes Chief Ramsey's efforts to address management deficiencies. recently evidenced by the newly-announced reorganization.

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A. Investigation Methodology

The Co-Chairs of the Special Committee, together with Special Counsel, developed a plan of action to conduct a thorough inquiry into alleged misconduct, mismanagement, retaliation and the appearance of impropriety in the MPD. Preliminary interviews with current and former MPD officials, law enforcement experts, citizens and representatives of other law enforcement-related agencies led to a focus on six primary areas that have department-wide application: ( 1 ) retaliation against police officers who report misconduct and mismanagement; (2) recruiting, training and performance evaluation; (3) management of overtime and off-duty employment; (4) management of equipment, property, material and information technology; (5) citizen interaction and community policing; and (6) investigation and discipline of police misconduct. In addition, the Special Committee drafted rules and procedures for the conduct of the investigation.

The Special Committee then began extensive factfinding through the issuance of subpoenas for testimony and documents, establishment of a telephone hotline and conducting informal interviews. The Special Committee’s Special Counsel interviewed more than 175 witnesses. issued over 150 subpoenas, reviewed several hundred documents, met with citizen groups throughout the District and sought the advice of law enforcement experts on the best practices. The Special Committee then conducted a public hearing on each of the six primary subject areas in order to inform itself and the public of the facts and potential solutions. The hearings held and the issues discussed were as follows:

February 26,1998, Whistleblowing and Retaliation
March 27, 1998, Recruiting, Training and Performance Evaluation
April 29, 1998, Management of Overtime and Off-duty Employment
June 1, 1998, Management of Equipment, Property, Material and Information Technology
June 30, 1998, Investigation and Discipline of Police Misconduct
July 17. 1998, Citizen Interaction and Community Policing

The Report sets forth the Special Committee's findings and recommendations. The Special Committee submits these recommendations for appropriate action including statutory changes and further legislative oversight.

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B. Whistleblowing and Retaliation Issues

1. Treatment of Police Officers Who Report Misconduct or Mismanagement

The Special Committee's inquiry began with a hearing focused on retaliation against officers who report misconduct or mismanagement In the MPD. Such persons, so-called "whistleblowers," serve a vital function in any public agency by bringing to light allegations of mismanagement or misconduct so that proper remedial action can be taken. Their role in a police department is particularly vital and difficult as traditional adherence by police to a "code of silence" has been well documented and is commonly known.7 Police whistleblowers assist management in identifying and rooting out the weeds of corruption before they grow. As then-Interim Chief Sonya Proctor testified before the Special Committee, "employees who show the courage to come forward with legitimate information about improper or illegal conduct on the part of other employees are not just whistleblowers, but are professional employees who should be applauded, not victimized or ridiculed." Indeed, MPD General Order 201.26 requires officers promptly to report misconduct or violations of any MPD rules to their immediate supervisor.8

Whistleblowers, however, often shoulder the heavy burden of retaliation. Reporting mismanagement or misconduct to superiors may earn an officer. a career-long reputation as a "snitch." The Council and the Special Committee have been repeatedly informed of retaliation against officers who bring misconduct or mismanagement into the open. Numerous witnesses in interviews by Special Counsel referred to the "long memories" of supervisors and officials that discourage whistleblowing in the MPD. Similarly, Special Committee witnesses testified to a pervasive culture of retaliation against. and ostracism of, whistleblowers in the MPD.9

As referenced above, the problem of whistleblower retaliation in the MPD first was presented by the predicament of Sergeants Hill and Sanders. The specific allegations are as follows. In November 1996, Sergeants Hill and Sanders were assigned to the MPD's Special Emphasis Unit, a special task force targeting gang activity between November 1996 and January 1997, and reported to Lieutenant Lowell Duckett. Hill and Sanders allege that Duckett ordered them to include Detective Ulysses Walltower on the unit's duty roster and time and attendance records. Walltower was a former member of Mayor Barry's security detail and an alleged friend of the Mayor s. Having neither seen nor heard of Walltower performing any work in the unit. Hill and Sanders refused to falsify the time and attendance records. Immediately thereafter, Duckett criticized Hill s and Sanders. performance on duty and had them transferred from the unit. On September 25, 1997. Hill and Sanders testified about this retaliation before the Council's Government Operations Committee.

In an attempt to verify these allegations of retaliation, the Special Counsel investigated the matter and subpoenaed additional witnesses who had personal knowledge of these events.

Two Metropolitan Police Department employees who were responsible for the time and attendance records of the Special Emphasis Unit from November 1996 through January 1997 stated that each had been directed by Lt. Duckett to enter time for Walltower despite the fact that there was no contemporaneous record reflecting that Walltower had worked during the relevant pay periods and Walltower had not submitted information concerning his time. Both witnesses said that they refused Lt. Duckett's directive to enter time without proof that Walltower had actually worked in the Unit during the work periods in question. When Duckett insisted that Walltower's time be entered, one of the time and attendance clerks told Duckett that he would have to certify in writing that Walltower actually worked those hours.10 Duckett then certified in writing that Walltower had worked those hours in the Special Emphasis Unit.11

Additional witnesses informed the Special Counsel that a MPD inquiry was conducted which raised serious questions about the integrity of the information submitted regarding Walltower's employment. As a result of the new information learned by the Special Counsel. the Special Committee believes that there is credible evidence supporting the prior testimony of Sergeants Hill and Sanders, and that further investigation is warranted. Accordingly, the Special Counsel has communicated with the United States Attorney's Office and referred the matter to that office for further investigation.

The Special Committee encountered several similar accounts of retaliation by MPD manager against so-called "whistleblowers," notwithstanding Interim-Chief Proctor's testimony that she was not aware of whistleblower retaliation in the MPD. Situations described in the public hearing before the Special Committee include alleged retaliation for refusing to withdraw a citation for a moving violation issued to another officer. retaliation for assisting another officer in preparing a grievance against an official, retaliation against a detective for reporting poor working conditions to the Financial Responsibility and Management Assistance Authority (the "Control Board"). and retaliation against a Homicide official for criticizing the Chief of Police.

A former shop steward of the Fraternal Order of Police also testified about the common perception among MPD rank-and-file that the Seventh District serves as a dumping ground for "problem' officers and targets of retaliation. The witness testified that the Seventh District is commonly referred to as "Alcatraz' or "the Rock." because of this perception and the difficulty of transferring out of the district.12 After a series of interviews. and review of MPD files. Special Counsel cannot confirm an actual policy of retaliatory transfers to the Seventh District. Nevertheless, a number of officers throughout the MPD have presented anecdotal evidence that such a practice exists. The testimony of these witnesses, and interviews of many other officers, suggest that there is the perception among MPD officers of a culture of retaliation against "whistleblowers" in the MPD. Following the hearing, the Office of Internal Affairs initiated an inquiry into this matter.

In to ferret out mismanagement or misconduct where it exists MPD leadership must act swiftly and forcefully to counter this culture of retaliation. Whistleblower protection should be among the MPD leadership's most important priorities.

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2. Whistleblower Protection

The Special Committee recognizes that there is no simple solution to the complex problem of Whistleblower protection. Prior to the adoption of new legislation described below, District law included a Whistleblower protection provision that had not been utilized expensively. D.C. Code _ 1-616.3 provided that District government employees who report violations of law or misuse of government resources or funds to a public body, defined as the United States Congress. the Council. any state legislature. or any federal. state, or local public agency, authority, or judicial body, could not be subjected to retaliation by the District government.13 A current or former District employee subjected to retaliation could bring a lawsuit in D.C. Superior Court seeking injunctive relief and compensation for lost wages and benefits and attorney's fees. The District also could seek attomey's s fees and court costs if the court determined that the employee's action was not well grounded in fact or warranted by existing law. The statute did not impose personal liability on supervisors engaged in retaliation or define the burden of proof for the employee to make his case. To strengthen and clarify this existing Whistleblower protection, the Council enacted the "Whistleblower Reinforcement Act of 1998," signed by the Mayor on June 23, 1998 (D.C. Act 12-398; to be codified at D.C. Code §___ ).14 The bill amends and expands the definition of a public body to include the D.C. Office of Inspector General, the Office of the District of Columbia Auditor, and the Control Board. It expands the types of disclosures that are protected to include evidence of gross mismanagement, abuse of authority, and threats to public health and safety, and extends to disclosures with respect to violations of regulations and contracts. Whistleblower protection available to current and former government employees is expanded to applicants for employment. The bill also imposes a duty on District government supervisors to report evidence of violations of laws, regulations and contracts and provides for discipline for failure to report, including discharge.

The statute also includes significant amendments to the Whistleblower protection private right of action. It clarifies that an aggrieved employee is entitled to a jury trial and need not first exhaust administrative remedies before bringing suit in Superior Court. A key provision clarifies the burden of proof for an aggrieved employee. Once the plaintiff has demonstrated by a preponderance of the evidence that reporting misconduct was a contributing factor in the alleged retaliation, the burden of proof shifts to the employing District agency to prove by clear and convincing evidence that the alleged action would have occurred for legitimate, independent reasons even if the employee had not engaged in activities protected by this section. This burden-shifting provision is modeled on the burden of proof included in the federal Whistleblower Protection Act, and eases the burden on whistleblowers to show retaliation.15 A violation of the Act also is a complete affirmative defense for a whistleblower to a prohibited personnel action (i.e., retaliation) in a subsequent administrative review of or challenge to that action. The statute also deletes the previous provision that permitted the District to obtain attorney's fees from a plaintiff. Moreover. the statute imposes a modified form of personal liability on supervisors who engage in retaliation. In an administrative or judicial enforcement proceeding, the supervisor may be disciplined. including discharge. and in a lawsuit. may face a civil fine up to $1000. These improved whistleblower protections should encourage District government employees to come forward and report misconduct with reduced fear of retaliation from supervisors.

While the Special Committee believes that the new statute will be an effective means of whistleblower protection, it is not specifically tailored to the MPD's unique circumstances. Expert witnesses Ronald Goldstock and Patrick Murphy testified before the Special Committee about whistleblower protection issues presented in the police context.

Mr. Goldstock is the Managing Director of Kroll Associates in New York, the Chair of the American Bar Association Criminal Justice Section and is a former Director of the New York State Organized Crime Task Force. Although he agreed with the laudable goal of whistleblower protection, he warned the Special Committee about its potential unintended consequences. Goldstock believes that officers who are themselves guilty of misconduct may claim whistleblower protection to avoid discipline. Faced with the possibility of a whistleblower lawsuit, including the potential of personal liability, supervisors may choose to overlook police misconduct rather than face the threat of reverse-retaliation.16 Accordingly, Goldstock thought that the Council must tread carefully in enacting whistleblower protection legislation, and, at a minimum, should provide managers with some form of "qualified immunity" from suit if they acted in good faith. Goldstock suggested that a more appropriate method for protecting whistleblowers may be to establish an internal authority within each agency, including the MPD, to investigate alleged incidents of retaliation as they arise. Potential retaliation problems would be handled administratively rather than through the courts, and, as a result, supervisors would not be deterred by the threat of a lawsuit from engaging in legitimate management activity.

Mr. Murphy has had a long and distinguished career in law enforcement, including serving as the former Police Commissioner of New York and Detroit, the Chief of Police of Syracuse, New York, and the Public Safety Director of the District of Columbia. Currently, Mr. Murphy is serving as a special advisor to the U.S. Conference of Mayors on law enforcement issues. The Special Committee sought Mr. Murphy's views on the investigation and the MPD, in general. Mr. Murphy testified that the MPD is an exceptional police department with a distinguished history and good officers, but currently is suffering from a lapse of management. In view, proper management is the key to police effectiveness and efficiency. and as a result, to public safety . With respect to whistleblower protection, Murphy testified that a culture of silence and retaliation cannot be countered solely from outside the MPD. Rather, police management must make a sustained commitment to the effort. and Murphy concurred with Goldstock's views with respect to establishing an internal mechanism for addressing whistleblower protection.

Members of the Special Committee believe that an effective whistleblower protection statute is a necessary component in an overall strategy of countering retaliation in the MPD. but are sensitive to Goldstock's concerns about "reverse retaliation." Although the statute as enacted does not include a provision providing for "qualified immunity" for supervisors, the Special Committee suggests that the Council consider an amendment including such a provision consistent with federal civil rights law. Qualified immunity would protect supervisors by ensuring that they cannot be exposed to personal liability unless it is proven that their actions were in violation of clearly established law.17 The employing agency, however, should not be permitted to claim such protection. Moreover, such protection should serve only to protect the supervisor from personal liability for damages. The supervisor should still be open to discipline or other forms of injunctive relief without the benefit of qualified immunity. Such protection would ameliorate the "reverse retaliation" concern while continuing to provide whistleblowers with meaningful protection under the statute.

The Special Committee agrees with the advisability of establishing an authority within the MPD with the responsibility for monitoring and addressing whistleblower protection concerns. and suggests that the Office of Professional Responsibility ("OPR") designate an official. outside of the general chain of command, to whom an officer may report misconduct without fear of retaliation. That official should have a direct report to the Chief for serious instances of misconduct. and the identity of whistleblowing employees must be kept strictly confidential. That official should be charged with prompt investigation of retaliation complaints, particularly with respect to retaliatory transfers, in those cases in which an officer has alleged misconduct against a higher-ranking official. In such cases. there may be a conflict of interest for an investigation to be handled within the unit. Furthermore, should the OPR find prima facie evidence of retaliation, the MPD should freeze the personnel action (e g., retaliatory transfer, demotion) until the incident is fully investigated.

OPR also should prepare an annual report, to be transmitted to the Council, detailing the investigation and handling of whistleblower and retaliation allegations. This reporting requirement is similar to that imposed under federal whistleblowerprotection law on the U.S. Office of Special Counsel of the Merit Systems Protection Board.18

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3. Recommendations

The Special Committee recommends that the Council:

(1) Monitor the implementation of the Whistleblower Protection Reinforcement Act and consider including a "qualified immunity" provision to guard against the reverse-retaliation concerns enunciated by the expert witnesses who appeared before the Special Committee.

The Special Committee recommends that MPD:

(1) Designate an official within the Office of Professional Responsibility responsible for handling whistleblower and retaliation allegations. That official should prepare an annual report for the Council on whistleblower issues in the MPD.

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C. Recruiting. Training and Performance Evaluation

1. Recruiting

The MPD maintains a separate operating unit that serves the function of recruiting new sworn members. The office is responsible for the identification of new candidates and for conducting background investigations of each candidate prior to hiring. The Special Committee interviewed the then-commander of the Recruiting Division, Captain Verna Olszewski, two of her lieutenants, four investigators assigned to the Recruiting Division and other officials involved in formulating the MPD's recruiting policy.

The Special Committee held a hearing concerning the MPD's recruiting efforts on March 27, 1998. Captain Olszewski and Lieutenant Corey Sharkey testified on behalf of the Recruiting Division. Then Interim Chief Sonya T. Proctor also testified concerning her views of the MPD's recruiting program.

Generally, while the recruiting process appears on the surface to be working, there are significant issues to be addressed. First, the number of trained background investigators needs to be increased. Second, no applicant should be admitted to the Training Academy until a thorough background investigation, physical examination and psychological screening are completed. Third, the Department should not be able to suspend the rules at the whim of certain officials. which has resulted in the past in hiring unqualified individuals to be police officers.. The Special Committee proposes to address these issues by enacting statutory and/or regulatory language prohibiting suspension of the written hiring policy under all but the most pressing emergencies. Finally, the minimum standards for employment need to be raised.

The statute proposes to increase the minimum educational requirements for becoming a police officer. In light of this increase. the Special Committee further proposes that the MPD become more aggressive in its outreach on college campuses. and investigate creative means of assisting college graduates retire their educational loans. Finally. the Special Committee is making a number of management recommendations, including recommendations concerning the use of juvenile records to exclude applicants from employment and the ability of the MPD to seek reimbursement of expenses from applicants who decline offers of employment.

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a. The Application Process

Today, an applicant for a position as a sworn member of the MPD must be a U.S. citizen, be at least twenty and one-half years old, possess a valid driver's license, and have a high school diploma. The applicant also must pass a written examination and a physical agility test.

Once an applicant meets these minimum requirements, the Recruiting Division conducts a comprehensive background examination. Most of the thirty-nine19 sworn personnel assigned or detailed to the Recruiting Division are involved in the investigation process. The background investigation includes a review of the applicant's military records, credit history, local police records. employment history, driving record. civil litigation records, business licenses and financial records Investigators also conduct interviews of family' friends, co-workers and neighbors.

An applicant then undergoes a full physical and psychological examination. The investigator reviews the entire file and makes a recommendation to hire or to reject the applicant.20 The entire file. with the investigator's recommendation. is forwarded to the investigator's sergeant. Assuming that the sergeant concurs, the case will be forwarded to a second sergeant. Once the two sergeants concur on a recommendation, a lieutenant and then the captain review the file. The sergeants, the lieutenants and the captain all may send the file back down the chain of command for correction of defects or deficiencies. In addition, if any of those supervisors disagrees with the investigator's recommendation, they can write a cover memorandum stating the reasons for their disagreement. The memorandum should remain with the file so that anyone reading it will have the benefit of an opposing viewpoint. Successful applicants then are sent an offer of employment.

The applicant acceptance rate is low. Between April and December 1997 over 6,200 people submitted applications.21 Over 1,000 of those were rejected immediately for various reasons leaving 5,200 to sit for the written examination and take the physical agility test. Nearly 3,000 passed both the written and physical examination and had their names placed on the registers. Full background investigations resulted in the rejection of 2,000 of those applicants. The Department hired 289 recruits and 524 applications remained pending at the time of the hearing. Eighty-seven applicants declined job offers after completing the background investigation.

Officials from the Recruiting Division believe that the current rate of new hires probably is enough to keep up with current attrition rates. The Department loses 20-25 officers per month due to retirement, firings, and other causes. The MPD needs, however, to hire an additional 245 officers in order to reach its 1998 allocated strength of 3,800 sworn officers. Current staffing at the Recruiting Division will not allow the MPD to reach that goal.22

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b. Minimum Standards for Employment

On June 30, 1998, Chief Ramsey proposed changes to the education requirements for applicants, essentially concurring with the view of the Special Committee. Under this proposal, by Fall 1999 all applicants must have completed two years of college. By Fall 2000, all applicants must have completed four years of college. The Special Committee has included these requirements in the omnibus legislative proposal.23 The Special Committee notes, however, that increasing the educational requirements will remove a significant number of otherwise qualified individuals from the applicant pool. Therefore. the Special Committee recommends that the MPD review the staffing level at the Recruiting Division to ensure that it can keep up with attrition despite the shrinking applicant pool. Vigorous and consistent recruiting efforts are essential to maintain workforce levels.24 The Special Committee believes that the MPD must pursue an aggressive nationwide recruiting effort that includes visits to college campuses and military facilities where qualified recruits are likely to be found. This is critical because MPD competes with many other reputable law enforcement agencies in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area for qualified applicants.

On a related note, the Special Committee also recommends that the MPD investigate the possibility of participating in tuition assistance programs and tuition forgiveness programs. Attracting college graduates can be difficult given the debt burdens that mans students face upon graduation. monthly graduation. ge y loan payments force students to seek employment in the private sector where salaries generally are higher. Many public service organizations attract students by participating in debt forgiveness programs that make public service affordable for today s college graduates. The MPD should review these programs to determine whether its recruiting efforts would benefit from participation. In addition. the MPD should promote expansion of educational opportunities for current officers by providing some degree of tuition reimbursement. Many private sector employers have recognized the importance of investing in human capital and the MPD should do no less.

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c. Juvenile Records

One issue that came to the attention of the Special Committee was the inability of the MPD to use an applicant's juvenile record as a reason for rejecting the application. For instance, under the current policy, MPD could not reject anyone found guilty of murder if the incident occurred while the applicant was a juvenile. The Special Committee's omnibus legislation proposes to correct this deficiency in the law by allowing MPD to reject applicants based upon certain crimes even if the conduct occurred while the applicant was a juvenile.25

d. Unaccepted Offers of Employment

The MPD spends roughly $3,000 on each applicant who completes the entire application process. A large portion of this — approximately $1,300 — is expended near the end of the process for the physical and psychological examinations. Last year, 87 applicants declined offers of employment at the end of the process at a total cost to the MPD of over $260,000.26 Testimony revealed that a number of these individuals had applied to other law enforcement agencies and cited as a reason for declining the MPD's offer the fact that they would be required to reimburse certain expenses to those other agencies if they declined the competing offers. The MPD is perhaps the only law enforcement agency in the area that does not require applicants to reimburse expenses if they decline employment. The Special Committee contends that the MPD must require individuals who decline offers of employment to reimburse the MPD for the expenses associated with the recruiting process. The omnibus legislation includes this requirement.

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e. Contingent Hiring

The Special Committee learned that in late 1996 certain officials in MPD suspended the normal hiring process and established a contingent hiring program. Under this program applicants were hired and sent to the Training Academy ("Academy") after the MPD performed only a perfunctory background examination. At the time. it was intended that full background examinations would be conducted while the applicant was in the Academy. MPD hired 1 13 recruits under this policy in January and February 1997.

In March 1997, Assistant Chief Sonya T. Proctor became the Human Resources Officer.. Upon learning of the contingent hiring program, Proctor ordered a halt to the process. The testimony showed that by April 1997, MPD failed to start full background investigations for many, if not all. of the candidates. Ultimately, once background investigations were completed, 22 recruits were fired based upon the findings from the background investigations conducted by the new staff at the Recruiting Division. Attorneys representing some of the terminated individuals raised the possibility that the city may have to defend itself in court for actions taken in this regard.

The Special Committee disapproves of any attempts to take a shortcut in hiring police officers.. The vital function that officers serve and the authority given to them over the life. liberty and property of our citizens demands that officers be of the highest caliber. Efforts to simply get bodies in uniform, even when in response to political pressure, will cost the District in the long term. Therefore. the Special Committee includes in its omnibus legislation provisions that will prevent any attempt to circumvent the approved application process. Most notably, the legislation prevents the MPD from enrolling anyone at the Academy prior to completing the background investigation.27 The legislation is not designed to micromanage the recruiting process. For instance, the legislation does not prescribe what constitutes a full background investigation. Instead, it is designed merely to require that the MPD adhere to its written procedures at all times. Thus, the MPD can continue to refine its investigatory procedures in a manner that is consistent with evolving law enforcement practices.

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f. Recommendations

The Special Committee recommends that the Council:

(1) Adopt legislation that codifies certain necessary recruiting practices; establishes new educational requirements; and removes the discretion of the MPD to enroll recruits at the Academy prior to completing a full background check. The legislation also allows the MPD to disqualify an applicant based on certain conduct which occurred while the applicant was a juvenile, and requires reimbursement of recruitment-related expenses from applicants who decline offers of employment.

The Special Committee recommends that MPD:

(1) Evaluate the staffing of the Recruiting Division to ensure that the MPD can maintain its current workforce.

(2) Appoint a direct liaison between the Recruiting Division and the Research and Development Unit to examine short and long-term recruiting needs.

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2. Training

The MPD maintains a separate operating unit, the Training Division, that is responsible for officer. training. Currently, the Training Division has primary responsibility for recruit training, and nominally is responsible for in-service training and specialized training. As the Special Committee learned, however, the Training Division's involvement in in-service and specialized training is less than ideal. Even more disturbing is the lack of involvement in the training process by top management. The Special Counsel extensively interviewed Steven L. Cass, the Director of the Training Division, his supervisory staff, and a number of instructors assigned to the Training Academy. In addition, the Special Counsel inspected the Academy's physical plant and interviewed the official in charge of the firing ranges. Finally, Special Counsel interviewed most of the district commanders for their views of the in-service training program.

On March 27, 1998, the Special Committee held its hearing concerning the training program. Testifying at the hearing were Mr. Cass, Interim Chief of Police Sonya T. Proctor, and Commander Winston Robinson of the Seventh District. Additionally, Tim Ottmeier, the director of training for the Houston Police Department, who was unable to be present at the hearing, presented his views through the Special Counsel.

Generally, the Special Committee found that the recruit training program was functioning adequately despite inadequate facilities and lack of budget support. The Special Committee's finding is qualified, however, by the fact that the preliminary assessment prepared by the former training director of the New York City Police Department demonstrates the need for a detailed assessment of the curriculum.28

In contrast, the in-service training and specialized training programs of the MPD are in shambles, notwithstanding the regular requests of the Training Director for the leadership of the Department to take actions. Budget cuts and lack of attention by a number of former chiefs and their command staffs have caused training to be placed at the lowest priority. In order to facilitate this prioritization. the Special Committee proposes legislation to establish mandatory training requirements. While the proposed legislation covers both recruit and in-service training. the real focus is on ensuring that veteran officers remain on the cutting edge of law enforcement techniques and that supervisors receive regular training in management skills.

The Special Committee recommends action on the physical condition of the Academy. The Special Committee requests that the Chief report to the Council in 6 months on the progress of correcting the issues addressed below

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a. Recruit Training

Currently, the 6-month recruit training program consists of 1053 hours of instruction, including a 2- week residential component. The Special Committee's investigation included a preliminary qualitative assessment of the curriculum, that recommends an in-depth evaluation of content and instructor qualifications as soon as practicable.

An obvious problem with the recruit training program is the Staffing level. Management anticipates that roughly 300 recruits per year will participate in the training program. Yet the Academy continues to lose instructors. At the time of the hearing 7 recruit classes — each with 20-25 recruits — were engaged in various phases of training but the Academy had only 14 instructors. Expert testimony suggests that at least 25 instructors are needed to properly serve 7 recruit classes.

Despite the lack of budget support and despite the deteriorated physical plant (discussed below), the Special Committee believes that the Training Division is performing its function with respect to recruit training. Commanders interviewed by the Special Committee noted that they were happy with the quality of the new officers fresh from the Academy.

One troubling issue relating to the recruit training program concerned the timing and use of On-The-Job Training ("OJT") by the MPD. OJT is a normal part of the training process. Under ordinary circumstances, recruits are given OJT assignments in patrol districts near the end of the 1 6-week training process — after they have completed the firearms, tactical and survival skills, and other training blocks necessary to perform the police function on the street. The Special Committee learned that two recent recruit classes were assigned prematurely to OJT positions after completing their firearms training but prior to completing some of the other necessary training blocks. The assignments were made over the objections of the Training Director and his faculty. The Special Committee was assured by the Interim Chief that the recruits had been assigned only to administrative duties in support of a special anti-drug campaign. A review of the OJT critiques submitted by the recruits made it clear that this was not the case.29

A number of recruits reported walking beats alone. assisting in arrests. participating in "jump-outs," and performing other non-administrative tasks. Some recruits expressed concern that they were not prepared for the assignments. The Special Committee is disturbed that the MPD would place the lives of the new recruits, as well as the lives of citizens. in jeopardy by placing untrained officers in potentially dangerous situations. Other recruits participated in door-to-door canvasses of neighborhoods asking that citizens fill out questionnaires designed to improve police/community relations. Some of these recruits questioned the wisdom of having recruits who may or may not be assigned to the particular PSA at some future date engaged in an exercise designed to get to know the community. Indeed, logic dictates that the officers already assigned to the PSA should perform this duty to become more familiar with the community in which they work Finally, placing many of the recruits in support functions precludes the recruits from receiving the customary OJT experience. OJT is intended to give the nearly fully-trained recruit an opportunity to experience the work environment under normal working conditions. This goal cannot be accomplished when the MPD assigns recruits to OJT before they can reasonably participate in the full spectrum of police activities.

Once again the MPD placed itself in a situation in which it disregards its own standards in order to fill a short-term need. In this instance, the MPD placed recruit officers in positions that they were not fully prepared to handle. The Special Committee finds that such a policy is not in the best interests of the citizens or the recruits and it recommends that OJT occur only after recruits have completed all of the training blocks necessary for performing the full range of patrol officer. functions. The omnibus legislation includes a provision to ensure that this problem is not repeated.

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b. In-Service Training

Training should not stop once the officer. receives a gun and a badge. Law enforcement techniques constantly evolve, and a metropolitan police force must keep abreast of those changes. The Special Committee finds, disturbingly. that the MPD's in-service training program is virtually non-existent.30 Since 1993, the Training Division's budget, over the strong objections of the Director, has been reduced by 67% to an amount barely sufficient the anticipated budget anticipated recruit training, thus eliminating any resources for an in-service program. While some in-service training is conducted at the unit level, the Training Division has no control over the quality or quantity of what little instruction is given. Testimony revealed that most in-service training consists of brief sessions during roll call. According to the district commanders. this method of training. while helpful in some respects, is totally inadequate for today's police officer. Each commander commented that roll-call training usually consists of mere dissemination of information. It does not provide training with respect to specific skills. Nor does it provide officials with a means to measure the officers' understanding of the material.

One recent innovation was the distance learning computer. The MPD placed computer terminals in each district that allow officers to review material concerning twelve topics. The computer can test each officer's mastery of the material and the Training Division can then track the scores of each individual. The computer also allows the MPD to track responses to particular questions so that it can examine trends or particular deficiencies that affect the entire department. The system completed its pilot implementation in December 1997.31

In-service training must be a top priority for the MPD. The Special Committee finds that prior Chiefs of Police were not engaged in the process of developing the training curriculum or establishing training as a priority. Witnesses stated that the lack of involvement from upper management fosters a culture of indifference toward training issues among the rank and file. Expert testimony demonstrated that leadership in this area must come from the top. Notwithstanding any law that could be enacted by the Council. the culture of the MPD cannot change until the Chief demonstrates leadership in this area.

The Council also has a role to play in ensuring that Washington. D.C. has the best trained police force in the nation. The Special Committee s investigation revealed that the District is the only jurisdiction in the nation without mandatory in-service training requirements. This will change with the passage of the omnibus legislation.32 Under the Special Committee's proposal, officers will now be required to complete a minimum amount of in-service training each year in order to retain their police powers. While the proposed legislation does mandate a specified number of hours to be spent on a few core subjects, it also provides flexibility in that it allows officers to choose "electives" based upon their individual interests and career goals. Officers can satisfy many of the requirements by participating in approved programs offered by law enforcement agencies or organizations dedicated to providing continuing education to the law enforcement community .

The MPD should offer specialized training for officers who seek employment in specialized fields, such as homicide. sex crimes, or juvenile issues. The skills required to be a patrol officer differ from the skills needed to perform a successful criminal investigation. In particular. the MPD must ensure that detectives who work with victims of sex offenses and juvenile victims are properly trained to deal with the issues specific to those situations. Therefore, the Special Committee recommends that the MPD establish a rule requiring officers seeking assignments in specialized units to complete mandatory courses in the skills necessary for performing that specialized function.

Finally, the Special Committee also recommends the curriculum include courses in oral and written communication skills. A large part of a police officer's job consists of communicating with the public and writing reports. Based on witness testimony and a review of report writing skills throughout the department, the Special Committee recommends that regular skills training and testing in this area will improve the quality of investigation and enhance problem solving in the community. Composition and grammar courses regularly are offered by other police departments across the nation.

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c. Specialized Training

Like the in-service program, budget cuts and poor leadership have resulted in inadequate specialized training programs. For example. all new supervisors and sergeants should be required to undergo management training upon promotion and regularly thereafter. Sergeants and lieutenants are responsible for managing their subordinates. creating. and implementing policy. and interacting with community and government leaders. Their training must match their responsibilities. The MPD simply must allocate sufficient funds to allow its members to take advantage of available training programs.

Lack of budget support, however, is not the only reason for the poor state of the MPD's specialized training. The Special Committee learned just prior to its March hearing that significant numbers of officers had not requalified to use their firearms as required by MPD regulation.33 In this case the MPD largely failed to comply with these regulations. Moreover, there was no budget related reason for the failure -- only poor management. When MPD's leadership was alerted to this issue. the MPD rushed to qualify its members by extending operating hours of the firing ranges virtually round the clock. The Special Committee believes that the MPD has survived far too long on the management-by-crisis style typified by the firearms issue. New management must improve the planning and oversight processes so that crisis problem-solving can be eliminated.

Another issue bearing in the discussion of training involves the proper operation and maintenance of police vehicles. A significant number of accidents involving police vehicles are found to be avoidable. Currently. is a virtual lack of driver skills training because of budget constraints. Additionally, witnesses testified that many of the repairs performed on the fleet are the direct result of abuse and neglect by officers in the field and the vehicle maintenance officers assigned to care for the vehicles. The Special Committee recommends that MPD establish a mandatory driver skills training program for all recruits and specialized driver skills training as a particular job responsibility requires, or where an of ficer is referred for additional in-service training due to performance evaluation. Further, we recommend regular preventative maintenance training for all drivers and vehicle maintenance officers..

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d. Physical Plant

The working and training conditions at the Academy are unacceptable. The problems range from such mundane issues as the need for a fresh coat of paint, to fire hazards such as missing door knobs on fire doors, to environmental and health hazards associated with both firing ranges. These problems appear to be caused both by lack of budget support and by poor facilities management.

The Special Committee recommends that MPD completely renovate the Academy as soon as possible. The Special Counsel toured the Academy and reports that the conditions under which officers must teach and learn are inadequate. Many of the desks and tables at the academy are so old and worn that they sag in the middle. making it very difficult for recruits to take notes comfortably. The Academy has at times gone for months without hot water. making it uncomfortable for recruits to shower after physical training. Supplies are difficult to keep on hand.

Safety and health issues are of particular and immediate concern to the Special Committee. Our investigation revealed that the air handling system at the indoor firing range has been inoperable for over two years.34 A heavy smell of gunpowder pervades the administrative areas near the firing range where civilians and sworn employees work for eight hours each day. Academy officials stated that they have tried to get the Department of Public Works to fix the air handling system on numerous occasions, to no avail. Additionally, the Special Committee subpoenaed documents reflecting that prior Chiefs were well aware of the problem, and did nothing to correct it.35 The outdoor range also is a cause for concern. Officers shoot at targets against the backdrop of a large hill. Bullets pass through the targets and land in the soil at the foot of the hill. No personnel interviewed could recall a time when the soil behind the range was cleaned or tested for lead contamination. Furthermore, the groundwater underneath and adjacent to the range empties into the Potomac River. The Special Committee urges the MPD to act on these issues by replacing the air handling system in the indoor range and testing and cleaning the soil behind the outdoor range. The Special Committee also recommends that the Council support capital expenditures to address these deficiencies on an ongoing basis.

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e. The General Orders

Another basic problem identified by the Special Committee is the poor state of the General Orders. Many General Orders simply are outdated or obsolete. For example. the order pertaining to firearms still refers to an officer's weapon as a "service revolver" when, in fact. no officer. now carries a revolver.36 There are a number of Special Orders that remain in effect. notwithstanding that Special Orders are intended to be temporary policy statements that would later be incorporated into permanent General Orders.37 The Special Committee recommends that the MPD overhaul the General Orders to simplify them, bring them up to date, and eliminate those orders that no longer serve any useful purpose. Furthermore, in consideration of the MPD's progress toward upgrading its information technology, the Special Committee suggests that the MPD investigate the possibility of making the General Orders accessible by mobile digital computer. The current three-volume set of the General Orders is much too bulky to be of any use to the officer. in the field. By placing the General Orders on-line, officers can take advantage of their guidance as the need arises.

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f. Recommendations

The Special Committee recommends that the Council:

(1) Adopt legislation consistent with the proposed omnibus bill, including statutory requirements for recruit and in-service training. The omnibus legislation proposes a yearly requirement for continuing education. The legislation also calls for an annual report that will assist the government in its oversight function. Officers who do not meet the in-service requirement will have firearms confiscated until the officer meets the in-service requirement.

(2) Conduct an assessment of the quality of the recruit training curriculum and the quality of the recruit instructors, in consultation with law enforcement experts.

The Special Committee recommends that MPD:

(1) Authorize On-The-Job Training only after recruits have completed all the training blocks necessary to perform the full range of patrol officer functions.

(2) Repair the physical plant at the Academy. The District may be at risk for legal claims arising from health and environmental hazards. Funds must be set aside for repair of the air handling system at the indoor range and cleaning of the soil behind the outdoor range. The MPD also must set aside funds for routine maintenance of all other aspects of the Academy.

(3) Overhaul the General Orders. If possible, the General Orders should be accessible by officers in the field via the new mobile digital computers so that officers can obtain instant guidance in the field.

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3. Performance Evaluation

a. Overview

A critical component of supervision and accountability is performance evaluation. a process common to virtually all organizations, public and private. The majority of urban police departments have a department-wide personnel performance appraisal system. Through interviews with various commanders. including the training director, and a review of numerous personnel files. we learned that the MPD's performance evaluation system lacks consistency of application and fails to take into account important information which would enable informed personnel decisions to be made.

Officers and citizens alike agree that MPD would benefit from a uniform system of performance appraisal. Management will sense how well its message is getting across. Supervisors will be able to assess the particular skills of officers in the field. The feedback to line officers will help them develop confidence and competence and correct errors. The Department will be able to deter misconduct and weed out those who cannot or will not perform.

Medical and psychological evaluation is an important component of this process. As a 1991 study of the Los Angeles Police Department points out, improved screening of applicants is not enough:

Police work modifies behavior. Many emotional and psychological problems may develop during an officer's tenure on the force, causing 'burn-out, alcohol related problems, cynicism or disenchantment. A person's susceptibility to the behavior-modifying experiences of police work may not be revealed during most skilled and sophisticated psychological evaluation process. Report of the Independent Commission on the Los Angeles Police Department. 1991, at xvi.

Officers should be tested periodically — at least every two years — to determine both physical and psychological fitness for duty. This holistic evaluation process. together with the development of an early warning system to detect misconduct (as set forth in Section G.8. below). will create a healthier and more productive environment for police work and public safety.

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b. Recommendations

The Special Committee recommends that MPD:

(1) Develop and implement a performance appraisal system for all police officers and civilian employees which provides evaluation of individual's performance and feedback both to the officer. and the department, consistent with the recently-enacted Omnibus Personnel Act of 1998.

(2) Use the performance appraisal system to develop a career path program for each member.

(3) Develop a method to regularly evaluate each unit — divisions, district commands, PSAs, etc — to hold these units accountable for achieving goals and objectives, as required by the Government Managers Accountability Act.

(4) Require sworn officers to undergo physical and mental health evaluations and testing every two years at the Police and Fire Clinic. The MPD should expand the resources of the Police and Fire Clinic to handle this responsibility. In addition, supervisors must understand that their role includes training and counseling officers to cope with the problems policing may entail so that they may be addressed before an officer. loses control or requires disciplinary action.

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