Logosm.gif (1927 bytes)
navlinks.gif (4688 bytes)
Hruler04.gif (5511 bytes)

Back to Metropolitan Police Department main pageBack to pending legislation page

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


DCWatch Archives
Council Period 12
Council Period 13
Council Period 14

Election 1998
Election 2000
Election 2002

Election 2004
Election 2006

Government and People
Anacostia Waterfront Corporation
Boards and Com
Campaign Finance
Chief Financial Officer
Chief Management Officer
City Council
Control Board
Corporation Counsel
DC Agenda
Elections and Ethics
Fire Department
FOI Officers
Inspector General
Housing and Community Dev.
Human Services
Mayor's Office
Mental Health
Motor Vehicles
Neighborhood Action
National Capital Revitalization Corp.
Planning and Econ. Dev.
Planning, Office of
Police Department
Property Management
Public Advocate
Public Libraries
Public Schools
Public Service Commission
Public Works
Regional Mobility Panel
Sports and Entertainment Com.
Taxi Commission
Telephone Directory
University of DC
Water and Sewer Administration
Youth Rehabilitation Services
Zoning Commission

Issues in DC Politics

Budget issues
DC Flag
DC General, PBC
Gun issues
Health issues
Housing initiatives
Mayor’s mansion
Public Benefit Corporation
Regional Mobility
Reservation 13
Tax Rev Comm
Term limits repeal
Voting rights, statehood
Williams’s Fundraising Scandals


Appleseed Center
Cardozo Shaw Neigh.Assoc.
Committee of 100
Fed of Citizens Assocs
League of Women Voters
Parents United
Shaw Coalition



What Is DCWatch?

themail archives

Back to Table of Contents

Back to Previous Section

Forward to Next Section


F. Citizen Interaction and Community Policing

1. Overview

The MPD's track record with respect to citizen interaction has not been exemplary. in the wake of the notorious leadership scandals of 1997, public trust in the police department appears to have eroded considerably. Full adoption of and commitment to community policing would go far toward remedying these shortcomings. The MPD's fledgling community policing initiative — the Patrol Services Area ("PSA") model — is at a crossroads. Effective July 1997, MPD altered the boundaries of some of its police districts. Further, MPD replaced the old Police Service Areas ("PSAs") with 83 smaller scout car beats. Since the inception of the program, the PSA system has been struggling with a lack of staffing and stability but has nevertheless garnered substantial community support. With further commitment of manpower and resources, the PSA concept holds great promise to forge new ties of cooperation between police and citizens in combating crime.

Other avenues of citizen participation and volunteerism also must be explored. The MPD s volunteer program is modest at best, and its procedures for addressing citizen complaints lack public legitimacy. There are some existing avenues for reform. A pilot volunteer program is under way in one police district. and citizen volunteer groups and civic associations work closely with police to improve the quality of life in their communities. Moreover, the proposed reinstitution of a system for citizen review of police misconduct holds great promise.

In order to reap the full rewards of community policing, the MPD must forge new stronger community ties. MPD leaders must tap further into the existing network of citizen activism and ethic of public service that runs deep in the District of Columbia.

Back to top of pageBack to Table of Contents

2. Citizen Complaint Procedures

Citizens interviewed by the Special Committee staff were largely disappointed with the MPD's procedures for addressing citizen complaints and concerns. Numerous calls on the Special Committee's hotline raised concerns about police officers' failure to respond. Although the MPD has procedures for handling citizen complaints, the public perceives them to be inadequate.

General Order 1202.1 provides that all citizen complaints shall be recorded on a PD 99 (Citizen Complaint Form). The PD 99 documents, at the initial stage, all complaints registered against officers by citizens, whether the complaint is lodged in person, by correspondence. or by telephone.89 When the complaint is made, it is to be brought to the immediate attention of the watch commander who designates an official to interview the complainant.

If the interviewing official believes that there is no evidence of misconduct. the official is directed to attempt to resolve the complaint by explaining the matter to the citizen. If the citizen is satisfied, the citizen is asked to acknowledge his satisfaction by signing the form. If the complainant refuses to sign or is not satisfied with the explanation, the official immediately refers the matter to the watch commander, who must interview the complainant. If the watch commander is unavailable. a lieutenant will conduct the interview. If the watch commander or lieutenant concurs that there is no evidence of misconduct, he will sign the form and inform the citizen of the resolution.

If the watch commander believes there are grounds for an investigation, he notifies the Office of Internal Affairs. In this manner, the Office of Professional Responsibility, which includes Internal Affairs, tracks the progress of citizen complaint investigations.

Most often, the investigation is handled at the unit of origin (i.e., where the complaint is made and the subject officer is assigned). The investigating official submits a report with recommendations to the unit commander, who in turn determines whether misconduct occurred. If he determines that misconduct has not occurred, disciplinary action is not warranted. He then contacts the citizen and advises him of this decision. If discipline is taken. the sanction is recorded on the PD 99, and the citizen is advised accordingly. Once the investigation is completed and the matter is disposed of, the PD 99 remains on file with the Office of Identification and Records.

Interviews with Commanders suggest that actual practice departs from the Department s official. Citizen complaints are generally handled informally. When a citizen comes to the station to lodge a complaint. he generally speaks first to the desk Sergeant who may attempt immediately to mediate the dispute. If the matter is not serious (e.g., a complaint relating to an unwarranted traffic ticket) and the citizen's concerns are addressed immediately. the desk sergeant may not fill out a PD 99. Other more serious matters are recorded on a PD 99. and the official process begins.

Some citizens complain. however. that MPD fails to provide adequate or prompt notification as to the progress of their complaints. Citizens also are concerned about the conflict of interest inherent in having their complaints against police investigated and judged by fellow police officers.

In part to address these conflict of interest concerns, the Council established the Civilian Complaint Review Board ("CCRB") in 1980 to review citizen allegations of misconduct against police officers. Appointed by the Mayor, the Council, the MPD, and the police union. the review board was composed of 7 members — 5 civilians, 1 police official, and 1 union representative. The board had exclusive jurisdiction to review citizen allegations of police harassment, excessive force, or abusive language. According to General Order 1202.1, the MPD could not investigate such allegations itself but referred them to the CCRB. A source of later difficulties, the Board reviewed all allegations thoroughly, regardless of severity and nature, and held hearings at which all seven members questioned witnesses. Its decisions had no independent effect; rather. it issued recommendations to the Chief of Police for discipline.

Overwhelmed by a staggering backlog of cases, the CCRB was dismissed as a failure. The CCRB received approximately 300-400 cases per year, and was noted for inefficiency. By the time the Board conducted a hearing on a case, often more than a year after the filing of an initial complaint, memories had faded and witnesses were no longer available. The CCRB lacked legitimacy both among the MPD, which considered it to be hopelessly biased against the police, and among citizens, who complained about the long delays. In the thick of a budget crisis, citing the CCRB's failures, the Council eliminated the Board's funding in the FY 95 budget and repealed the legislation which established the CCRB. At that time, the CCRB had a backlog of approximately 800 cases, two-thirds of which were over 2 years old. The CCRB transferred all pending cases to the MPD's Office of Internal Affairs for investigation.90

Many citizens were dissatisfied with this course of action, and there has been renewed interest in reestablishing an improved CCRB. The need for an independent civilian watchdog to police the police counsels in favor of this move. It is imperative. however. that a new CCRB avoid the mistakes of its predecessor. A more efficient. and streamlined. complaint review process must be established that can quickly dispose of frivolous claims and prioritize and expeditiously process serious allegations.

With these goals in mind. in July 1998, the Council passed the "Office of Citizen Complaint Review Establishment Act of 1998," passed on 2nd reading on September 22, 1998 (enrolled version of Bill 12- 521).91 The legislation would create an independent Office of Citizen Complaint Review and a Citizen Complaint Review Board comprised of 5 members (4 civilians and 1 MPD member). The Board would set general policy and oversee the Office's function. The Office itself would handle complaints. An Executive Director, selected by the Board, would manage the Office. This person in turn would hire staff members to assist in investigating and processing complaints. The Director also would establish a qualified pool of persons to act as conciliators, mediators or complaint examiners, who would be the actual decisionmakers on individual complaints. The Office's jurisdiction would be to receive, dismiss, conciliate, mediate, and adjudicate complaints relating to: harassment; use of unnecessary or excessive force; use of insulting. demeaning, or humiliating language; discrimination based on race, sex, national original, and other factors; and retaliation against a person for filing a complaint.

The legislation sets forth the following procedures for handling complaints. A complaint must be received within 45 days of the date of the incident, in writing and signed by the complainant. The Executive Director shall screen the complaint and may dismiss it with the concurrence of one Board member, refer it to the USAO for possible criminal prosecution, conciliate the complaint. refer the complaint for mediation, or refer the complaint for investigation. A complaint may be dismissed because it lacks merit, the complainant refuses to cooperate with the investigation, or the complainant refuses to participate in good faith with the mediation process. The Office would employ investigators to investigate complaints, and the Executive Director could subpoena witnesses and documents for use in the investigation. MPD members would be directed to cooperate with the investigation and would be subject to discipline for non-cooperation.

After completion of an investigative report, the Executive Director could dismiss the complaint, order additional investigation, or refer it to a complaint examiner to make a merits determination of the factual allegations. The complaint examiner could conduct an evidentiary hearing if necessary to determine fairly the merits of the complaint. The complaint examiner could also attempt to resolve the complaint through conciliation or mediation. Upon reviewing the investigative file, the complaint examiner would make written findings of fact as to each allegation. If one or more allegations were sustained, the Executive Director would transmit the complaint file to the Chief of Police for appropriate action. If no allegations were sustained the Executive Director would dismiss the complaint and notify the parties of the disposition.

If a complaint is sustained, the Chief would designate a group of officers. not from the same organizational unit as the subject offer. to review the file and propose a penalty within 15 days. The officers propose that the matter be returned to the Office of Citizen Complaint Review for a final review panel if they conclude that the complaint examiner s merits determination clearly misapprehends the record and is not supported by substantial. reliable and probative evidence. After notifying the parties of the recommendation and giving them an opportunity to comment. the Chief would have 15 days to issue a decision on discipline. That decision must be in writing and give a concise statement of reasons therefor. The Chief also could not reject the merits determination unless he concludes, with supporting reasons. that it clearly misapprehends the record and is not supported by substantial, reliable, and probative evidence. The Chief could not supplement the evidentiary record. The Chief's decision on discipline would be final, except that if the Chief rejects the complaint examiner's record as specified above, the matter would be returned for a final review by three complaint examiners appointed by the Executive Director. The final review panel could reverse or sustain the decision of the initial complaint examiner, in part or in its entirety, and either dismiss the complaint or return it to the Chief for a supplemental decision on discipline.

An order dismissing a complaint from the Office would be final and not subject to judicial review but would not bar the complainant from seeking other remedies, judicial or administrative.

The MPD would also be permitted to initiate disciplinary proceedings against an officer with respect to a charge of misconduct within the Office's jurisdiction prior to the filing of a complaint. The MPD could continue disciplinary proceedings in a pending matter if a complaint is filed with the Office regarding the same conduct after the MPD's investigation began. The MPD could not initiate disciplinary proceedings against a member after a complaint has been filed. No officer could be punished twice for the same conduct arising from the same incident.

The procedures set forth in Bill 12-521 significantly streamline the previous complaint investigation and adjudication process. Moreover' the new system would rely heavily on conciliation and mediation to resolve amicably police-citizen disputes; a process that can enhance public confidence in the police. The Office may investigate complaints expeditiously, largely without the involvement of the Board (except for a summary dismissal in limited circumstances). The fact that the Board has a general supervisory function, rather than direct involvement in decisionmaking, should greatly expedite the complaint review process. The new Office of Citizen Complaint Review would act as an independent check on police misconduct. Under the proposed system, should a citizen feel that a complaint is not being adequately addressed by the MPD, he may turn to the Office for redress.

Chief Ramsey testified before the Special Committee on his plans to reform the disciplinary review process in the MPD, including the establishment of new procedures for processing citizen complaints. To the extent feasible, the two systems should be complementary, together. should enhance public trust in the police department.

The Special Committee endorses the re-establishment of the CCRB and recommends that the Office of Citizen Complaint Review should be closely monitored to ensure that the new process not suffer from the inefficiency and backlog of the old.

Back to top of pageBack to Table of Contents

3. Chief’s Citizens Advisory Council (“CAC”)

Each district has a Citizens Advisory Council, comprised of citizens who meet monthly to discuss issues of concern to the community with the MPD leadership.92 These community leaders provide valuable feedback on community policing and outreach efforts but are underutilized. The Special Counsel and staff members attended CAC meetings in each of the police districts during the course of the investigation. Each expressed the same general concerns: the lack of resources. inadequate staffing, and insufficient police presence in the city's neighborhoods. All felt that PSAs are chronically understaffed, and that not all PSA Sergeants were sufficiently responsive to community needs. Mr. James Berry, the Chairman of the CAC, testified before the Special Committee concerning the need for the MPD fully to commit to the community policing project. He also testified, in general, to the MPD's failure to listen to the community's needs and concerns. Berry's view is that the police superficially tolerate citizen input, but rarely act on citizen recommendations.

Back to top of pageBack to Table of Contents

4. Citizen Volunteer Efforts

District citizens are willing to devote the time and talent to assist the MPD in its public safety mission. The District is fortunate to be served by an extensive network of sophisticated community and civic associations. Representatives of several of these neighborhood associations testified before the Special Committee on their experiences working with the MPD. Their testimony demonstrates that MPD receptiveness to citizen assistance is uneven. Some citizens, including Orange Hat Citizens Patrol members, recounted extremely positive experiences in working with police. Others testified to the resistance that they encountered, primarily from headquarters, in organizing a citizen volunteer program. On balance, volunteer efforts have been successful but ad hoc. There does not appear to be any effective MPD plan or program for encouraging or coordinating citizen volunteer efforts.

Frank Hornstein, the Public Safety Chair of the Dupont Circle Citizens Association, testified with respect to his efforts to establish a citizen volunteer group in the Third District. Through persistence and determination, he has been able to recruit a cadre of 26 committed volunteers to assist in a variety of administrative tasks. Although the MPD purports to have a volunteer coordinator and program,93 Hornstein recounted a series of difficulties encountered in trying to become an MPD volunteer. He had to make three separate visits to police headquarters to get his picture taken for a volunteer identification card. He suffered through the outdated training video MPD uses to "train" volunteers. Officials rejected his offer to assist in producing a new video. There also was no manual available for volunteers at the Third District and Hornstein was forced to draft his own. Commander Jose Acosta of the Third District testified that he welcomes Hornstein s and the other volunteers' assistance. but the MPD must develop a program that promotes and capitalizes on volunteer resources.

Although the MPD does not have an organized volunteer program. citizen activism is flourishing in the District. The Special Committee heard the testimony of Everett Lyles, the president of one of the District's many volunteer Orange Hat groups. These neighborhood groups named for the orange hunting caps worn by the volunteers, organize community patrols to rid their neighborhoods of crime. Lyles' organization, which covers three PSAs in the Sixth District. currently has twelve members and patrols three nights per week. Lyles patrols by car almost nightly. He also obtained surplus police radios which have been programmed with a special police frequency. Other citizens regularly call Lyles to report problems and emergencies, which he in turn reports to the police by radio, when citizens are unable to reach the police via 911. Similarly, Roland Chavez of the Near Northeast Citizens Against Crime and Drugs testified about his efforts at community organization. Working closely with PSA 510 Sergeant Diane Groomes of the Fifth District, Chavez publishes regular PSA newsletters relating crime statistics and the neighborhood's organization efforts.94 Chavez and other organization members have forged a close working relationship with Sergeant Groomes. Their police-neighborhood partnership illustrates the great potential of community policing. Laura Shell, coordinator of the Old City Coalition Citizens Patrol. is another example of a community activist who has forged a partnership with local police. These citizens demonstrate the wealth of volunteer capital available in the District should the MPD be able to mount a sustained and organized volunteer effort.

The Special Committee strongly recommends that the MPD develop a new volunteer program. As a potential template for its volunteer program, MPD leadership should look to the Montgomery County Police Department's Volunteer & Community Resources Division. The National Crime Prevention Council has recognized it to be among a small number of model volunteer programs across the nation. According to the Division's vision statement, the purpose of the program is '`to promote an environment in which county residents are encouraged to work in partnership with law enforcement officers. This partnership educates citizens and engenders public support for the police while expanding the scope and quality of police services delivered to this community." The Division Director, Jeanne Bernard, and Janis Froelich, an Assistant Director, provided the Special Committee with copious information on the program. A citizen began the volunteer program in the Silver Spring District in 1988 as a pilot project. Within 6 months, the program grew to 25 volunteers and has since grown exponentially. After overcoming initial resistance among the police, the Montgomery County volunteers are today in great demand.

Now a division within the Montgomery County Police Department staffed by several full time, paid police employees, the Volunteer & Community Resources Division coordinates and supervises the activities of approximately 250 volunteers.95 There are 4 separate programs:

  • Volunteers in Policing ("VIP") which is the primary volunteer corps;
  • the Law Enforcement Apprenticeship Program ("LEAP") which is made up of interns interested in a law enforcement career;
  • the Community Assisting Police ("CAP") program which is staffed by ArneriCorps members who are paid a grant-funded stipend; and
  • the Victim Witness Assistance Services branch which is staffed by Victim Assistants, some of whom are AmeriCorps members and others are VIP volunteers.

These citizens provide non-law enforcement administrative support services throughout the Montgomery County Police Department in a variety of roles. The qualifications and experience of volunteers range from high school students to professionals to retirees, all of whom bring their particular skills to bear in assisting the police. Admission to the program is selective. Candidates undergo rigorous background checks and must sign confidentiality agreements. Volunteers are expected to contribute 8 hours per week, with a minimum of 6 months of service. As to liability issues, the Montgomery County workers compensation policy covers volunteers. The County provides insurance for third-party liability.

The benefits that such a program could bring to the District of Columbia are immediately apparent. An organized and vigorous volunteer program would provide citizens with a means to involve themselves in the community policing effort. Volunteers could serve a key function in the MPD's attempt to increase the number of sworn officers in the PSAs. While certainly not a substitute for sworn officers or civilian employees, civilians can augment support personnel and make a constructive contribution to the delivery of services to the public.

The Special Committee is not suggesting that the MPD adopt the Montgomery County program. Nor does the Special Committee suggest that MPD immediately create a department-wide program. According to Ms. Bernard, for a volunteer program to be effective. it must win the support and confidence of both the police and citizens alike. Rather, the MPD must develop a program that is uniquely suited to the District of Columbia. It would be prudent for the MPD to begin with a district pilot program, like the one currently underway in the Third District. that would develop the framework and infrastructure for a department-wide volunteer effort. Once it is conclusively demonstrated how citizens can assist the police in one district, it is expected that other districts will follow suit.

While a successful program can and should begin with a pilot project. the volunteer effort must have the full support of MPD management. The Special Committee recommends that the MPD establish a volunteer advisory board to be overseen by a senior Commander or similar high-ranking official. This board could be comprised of the leaders of existing citizen groups throughout the District, including the CACs, Orange Hat patrols, and various civic associations. The input of such community leaders will be crucial in developing an effective volunteer program. In addition, the Montgomery County Volunteer & Community Resources Division leadership has generously offered its assistance in establishing a program in the District. The Special Committee strongly recommends that MPD take advantage of this invaluable resource.96

Back to top of pageBack to Table of Contents

5. Community Policing

Clifford Keenan, current chief of the USAO's Community Prosecution Project and himself a former MPD member, testified that community policing is about problem solving. Before the new community policing initiative, the police role was limited to reacting to radio runs on crimes already committed. Community policing has officers taking a more proactive approach. It is a holistic method of engaging citizens in improving the quality of life in the District's neighborhoods.

The MPD has attempted to implement this philosophy through the PSA system. Since July 1997, semi-autonomous PSA teams provide police services within a particular geographic area. As envisioned. the PSA system promotes community policing by making a small number of officers accountable to a particular neighborhood. The officers are to forge relationships with citizens living in their PSAs, hold regular community meetings, and engage their assistance in combating crime. The hope is to develop a free flow of information whereby the police can learn of the "trouble spots" in a community and respond promptly to the community's concerns.

The PSA system, as presently constituted, has fallen short of this ideal. In meeting with community groups, Special Committee staff repeatedly heard concerns relating to staffing, training, and support for the PSAs. PSA rosters do not account for officer absences due to sick leave, court appearances, vacations, etc. Accordingly, PSA staffing levels on paper are considerably higher than actual police presence in the field. Sergeant Diane Groomes testified that at the PSA model's inception, each PSA was promised a staffing of between 20 to 25 officers. She currently has only 16 officers in PSA 510. Oftentimes she has only 12 to 14 officers available to staff 3 shifts. Sergeant Marilyn Cook of PSA 702 voiced similar complaints in her Special Committee testimony . Because a PSA may cover a relatively large geographic area, the staffing shortfalls are acutely felt. Civilians could perform many of the administrative functions currently performed by sworn members, thereby permitting reassignment of those officers to PSA patrols. Chief Ramsey has made a firm commitment to review MPD staffing at all levels and to bolster PSA personnel as soon as feasible. The Chief's recently announced department-wide restructuring and decentralization hopefully will achieve this result.

While some PSA Sergeants are models of community policing, citizens complain that other PSA Sergeants are not responsive. For example, Roland Chavez's neighborhood borders two PSAs. PSA 510 and PSA 103. He testified that the difference in leadership is palpable. In PSA 510. Sergeant Groomes holds regular community meetings and events, helps distribute newsletters. and has forged strong community ties. She has assisted the neighborhood in forming Orange Hat patrols and has sponsored block parties, Easter Egg hunts, and similar community building efforts. Her proactive community policing philosophy has achieved results. In the first quarter of FY 1997, PSA 510 outperformed all other PSAs in crime reduction (dropping from 60-80 crimes per month since the inception of the program to 20 crimes per month). en sharp contrast is PSA 103. For several months. PSA 103 has had no sergeant. When a PSA Sergeant had been assigned to PSA 103. citizens complained about his general unresponsiveness. He attended existing community meetings but did not sponsor his own PSA meeting or community events. He failed to provide crime statistics for the community newsletter. He was difficult to reach by pager or telephone. Chavez reports that the difference in the PSA leadership also makes a difference in crime for the two areas. Detecting a lapse in leadership in PSA 103, drug dealers have moved into that area from PSA 510, where Sergeant Groomes' leadership is strong.

Sergeant Groomes suggests that the MPD emphasize certain skills in selecting PSA sergeants. Effective PSA Sergeants require a certain aptitude in community-relations building that is not part of what has been considered traditional police work. The MPD also must make a firm commitment to stability in PSA leadership. Turnover is counterproductive, as it undermines the effort to build trust in the community. Sergeant Groomes again serves as an example. Despite her success in leading PSA 510, she was involuntarily transferred to the Homicide Branch as a supervisor in September 1997. Groomes had no prior investigative experience and her skills at community relations were not utilized at Homicide. Only after repeated complaints to her supervisors, as well as citizen complaints to the district commander, did Sergeant Groomes return to her PSA in July 1998. Within 2 weeks, she had organized the community's first Orange Hat patrol. The MPD management's decision to remove an effective PSA Sergeant from her PSA demonstrates the Department's previous uneven commitment to the PSA model.

With respect to community policing, the MPD should undertake a number of reforms of the PSA system. The MPD's upcoming re-structuring is an opportune time to reassign sworn members to the PSAs. The goal should be to fully staff the PSA structure (i.e., per PSA or greater) within the next three months. Officers who are on prolonged sick leave or other forms of administrative leave, or who are on details to other units or administrative posts, should not be included on the PSA roster.

To improve responsiveness PSA officers should provide citizens with updated lists of PSA officers and telephone, voice mail, and pager numbers. Officers should be required to attend PSA meetings so that each officer has an opportunity to meet and interact with citizens in the area. Officers should be encouraged to sponsor community outreach events, and be issued commendations or other career-enhancing accolades for participating in such events. For example, MPD might create a "community police officer" award for each district.

More importantly, the MPD should undertake a thorough review of PSA leadership. As part of the reorganization, Chief Ramsey has announced that PSAs will be led by a Lieutenant and as many as six Sergeants rather than a single Sergeant. Whatever their rank PSA leadership should be selected among those officers who demonstrate a clear commitment to community outreach as well as proficiency in crime reduction. To promote stability, PSA lieutenants, sergeants, and officers commit a minimum time in the assigned PSA (perhaps 2-3 years), waivable at the Chef's discretion or on an emergency basis. PSA officers who show promise may be candidates for promotion to PSA leadership when vacancies become available. Extensive in-service training on community relations, which should be mandatory for all PSA members.

To enhance the prominence of patrol duty, PSA leadership should lead to career advancement within the MPD. The overall goal should be to foster a future leadership cadre for the MPD consisting of former PSA officials who are committed to the concept of community policing. The MPD should consider requiring any officer seeking promotion to the rank of Captain or above to have served at least one rotation in a PSA and to have received high performance ratings in that capacity.

The reorganization proposal to assign lieutenants to head PSAs is, on balance, a positive development. The MPD should strive to reinforce community policing ideals in all levels of its leadership. Nevertheless, there may be a disadvantage to expanding the number of officials (Lieutenants & Sergeants) leading the PSAs. It is imperative that PSA leaders forge close ties with community leaders. Increasing the number of officials may result in a dilution of PSA leadership and citizen accountability. The MPD must monitor the reorganization carefully to guard against "bureaucratization" of the PSA structure.

Consistent with the community policing philosophy, the MPD also should endeavor to be responsive, at all levels, to citizen requests for information. To that end, the Special Committee recommends that the MPD issue an annual report that provides information on crime statistics, department initiatives, police discipline, awards and commendations, and other information that the community would find of interest. Included in the appendix is an example of such an annual report issued by the Boston Police Department.97 A monthly newsletter also should be published for each PSA providing, at a minimum, a schedule for PSA meetings, a breakdown of crime statistics for the PSA, and a list of names and contact numbers for emergencies is one way to provide information to a neighborhood. A newsletter could also advertise police-sponsored community events or community initiatives, such as Orange Hat patrols. The MPD should pursue other avenues of communication with the public, such as establishing an Internet website for the MPD and the PSAs. Some PSA groups already have active websites. and it is suggested that others follow suit to the extent feasible.98

Back to top of pageBack to Table of Contents

6. Community Prosecution Program

Beginning in June 1996, the USAO initiated the Fifth District Community Prosecution Pilot Project under the direction of the Chief of the Community Prosecution Section, Assistant United States Attorney Clifford T. Keenan.99 Similar in concept to community policing, community prosecution assigns prosecutors to PSAs in the Fifth District, and targets the crimes in the area that have the greatest impact and are of the most concern to the community's residents. Keenan's testimony before the Special Committee provided an overview of the community prosecution program and an update on its progress.

Like the police, prosecutors are service providers for the community. The community prosecution program puts prosecutors in direct contact with the citizens they serve. Prosecutors take a holistic view of community service. Rather than focusing solely on the most objectively "serious" crimes (e.g., murders, armed robberies, serious assaults), the prosecutors target community "quality of life" concerns (e.g., public drunkenness. disorderly conduct, destruction of property). For example, community prosecutors recently were able to prosecute an alcoholic who had terrorized the Brookland neighborhood but who had not been previously prosecuted because he had not committed any "serious" offenses. Prosecutors were able to secure a felony plea for the defendant because of destruction of property and have him diverted to a treatment facility. The prosecutors also work closely with PSA Sergeants and community leaders to identify priorities.

Keenan testified that the USAO remains committed to the community prosecution project. The Council has previously adopted a resolution praising the community prosecution project and urging the USAO to expand the project throughout the city. The Special Committee endorses that view and believes that the community prosecution program fits perfectly with community policing. Working together, these two programs hopefully will serve as model of police prosecutor-community cooperation.100

The Special Committee urges the USAO to expand its pilot community prosecution program District-wide as soon as possible. The Special Committee also recommends that the MPD and the USAO develop procedures for PSA Sergeants to work in close contact and cooperation with community prosecutors and community leaders to develop a joint strategy for crime prevention and prosecution.

Back to top of pageBack to Table of Contents

7. Recommendations

The Special Committee recommends that the Council:

(1) Should closely monitor the operations of the Office of Citizen Review and the new Civilian Complaint Review Board through oversight by the Judiciary Committee.

The Special Committee recommends that MPD:

(1) Reassign as many sworn members as feasible from administrative functions to the PSA system.

(2) Fully staff the PSA system, within 3 months from adoption of this Report. Officers on administrative leave or detailed to non-PSA assignments should not be included on the PSA roster.

(3) Foster greater citizen-community interaction in the PSA system. PSA officers should attend community meetings and sponsor community events.

(4) Stabilize PSA leadership and staffing..

(5) Select PSA leaders on the basis of community relations skills as well as other traditional criteria.

(6) Require PSA leaders to commit 2-3 years in the PSA, with waivers of the policy only on personal order of the Chief of Police.

(7) Establish an awards program for exemplary PSA leaders and officers.

(8) Provide extensive in-service training for community.

(9) Encourage PSA leaders to establish open lines of communication, by several methods, with citizens and neighborhood associations.

(10) Publish an annual report to include information on crime statistics, department initiatives, police discipline, awards and commendations, and other information which the community would find to be of interest.

(11) Explore the feasibility of expanding the USAO's community prosecution initiative District-wide.

(12) Utilize fully volunteers in a non-law enforcement administrative service capacity. Develop an extensive and vigorous volunteer program, beginning with a pilot program, and expanding District-wide.

Back to top of pageBack to Table of Contents

G. Disciplinary Proceedings Against Sworn Members of the Metropolitan Police Department

There is a perception that the public that the MPD does not enforce discipline among its members. For this reason, the Special Committee conducted an extensive review of the MPD s disciplinary system. The Special Committee did not find widespread instances of lax enforcement of discipline,101 rather the Special Committee found a system that is too complex to administer discipline fairly and promptly.102

Years of negotiation between the MPD and the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) shaped the current disciplinary system.103 There are two levels of punishment — corrective actions and adverse actions. Corrective actions (dereliction reports, letters of prejudice and official reprimands) are reserved for minor offenses and are usually administered at the unit level. Corrective actions are not approved or monitored by the MPD s command staff or the Office of Professional Responsibility ( "OPR" ). Instead, they are kept in the officer’s unit personnel file up to three years.

Adverse actions (suspensions, demotions and terminations) are reserved for more serious acts. The unit to which an officer is assigned or OPR may initiate an investigation. The member member's supervising official ordinarily conducts the investigation. Under the union contract. the MPD must serve an officer a notice of proposed adverse action within 45 days from the time it knew or should have known of the offending conduct. The investigatory file passes through the chain of command until it reaches the Human Resources Officer ("HRO"). The Department Disciplinary Review Officer ("DDRO") is the official who actually recommends the charges and the penalty range. Once the recommended charges and penalty is determined, the DDRO returns the file to the unit commander.

If the recommended penalty is 10 days suspension or less, the unit Commander holds a resolution conference with the member to attempt to reach an agreement on the discipline. The unit commander may go outside the DDRO's penalty range if the commander provides adequate justification to the DDRO. If the commander and the member do not agree on the penalty. the regular adverse action process follows.

If the penalty is greater than 10 days or suspension or if the commander and the member do not agree on a penalty that is less than 10 days, the commander serves the member with a notice of adverse action. The member has 10 days within which to respond to the charges in writing. The DDRO and the HRO review the member's response. if any, and issue a final notice of proposed adverse action.

If termination is proposed, the member may request an adverse action hearing consisting of a panel of 3 officials. The adverse action panel conducts an evidentiary hearing, and issues findings of fact and a recommended penalty. The HRO reviews the panel's recommendations but is not required to accept its recommendation. The final determination remains within the HRO's discretion. No adverse action panel is convened for penalties short of termination. A member can appeal the HRO's final notice of proposed adverse action to the Chief of Police for final agency action.

The HRO is the individual most directly responsible for the issuance of discipline throughout the MPD. The HRO usually has the final word on most adverse action cases. investigations, however, must go through a number of administrative hurdles before reaching the HRO's desk. An adverse action investigation begun at the unit level must be reviewed by the officer's supervisor, the unit Commander, and the head of the officer's Bureau must review an adverse action investigation before reaching the HRO.104

Back to top of pageBack to Table of Contents

1. The Appeal Process

The Special Committee's primary concern with regard to the appeal process is the Office of Labor Relations' apparent lack of independence. As noted above, the HRO makes the initial determination of discipline for adverse action cases. An officer then has a right to appeal that decision to the Chief of Police for final agency action. When the officer appeals. the investigatory package goes to Labor Relations for review. Labor Relations then makes a recommendation to the Chief of Police as to the disposition of an appeal. Labor Relations, however. reports directly to the HRO. Thus. Labor Relations' recommendation is forwarded to the Chief of Police through the HRO. In effect, the Labor Relations Officer is reviewing — and potentially criticizing — the recommendation of his superior. The Special Committee is unaware of any specific case in which Labor Relations was less than candid in its recommendation to the Chief of Police based upon a fear of disagreement with the HRO; however the then acting Labor Relations Officer testified that there had been occasions on which he had been directed by the HRO to change his recommendation on the proper disposition of an appeal. Nevertheless, the Special Committee recommends that the MPD consider an alternative reporting relationship for the purposes of adverse action appeals so as to reduce even the appearance of undue influence on the part of the HRO. The Special Committee believes that an alternative reporting relationship can be achieved without increasing the MPD's administrative burden.

Another appeal-related issue that concerned the Special Committee was the MPD's record in arbitrations. As noted, the Chief of Police's decision on an appeal constitutes final agency action. A dissatisfied officer may then request arbitration. Testimony suggested that the MPD loses approximately 73% of arbitration cases. This record is unacceptable and indicates that some of the MPD's final disciplinary decisions are unfounded. The Special Committee does not express an opinion regarding the harshness of particular instances of discipline. These determinations are properly left to the MPD. The Special Committee is concerned, however, about the cost to the taxpayers in lost productivity, back pay awards, legal fees, and other costs when the MPD presents an unsupportable position. To that extent, the Special Committee recommends that the MPD consider carefully the likelihood of prevailing on the merits when taking cases to arbitration. Neither the MPD, the officer, nor the citizen benefits from keeping officers off the street as the MPD fights unwinnable battles.

Back to top of pageBack to Table of Contents

2. Court No-Shows and Preventable Automobile Accidents

The Special Committee learned that most discipline cases relate to either court "no-shows" or preventable auto accidents.105 All court-related absences and late appearances are considered under the rubric of court no-shows.106 Some district commanders suggested that the MPD's policy with respect to no-shows and first preventable accidents is too severe. For example, the second unjustified lateness or no-show for a court appearance within a twelve-month period must be forwarded to the HRO with an adverse action recommendation regardless of the impact on the case. 107 First preventable accidents carry a recommended five-day suspension from duty. regardless of the severity of the accident or the degree of the officer's negligence.

Interviews with various district commanders revealed that many of them believe that the discipline for court no-shows and preventable accidents is too harsh. They believe that commanders should have flexibility to determine the proper penalty depending on the severity of the conduct and its impact. For example, an officer who is late for court twice out of 100 appearances in one year. with no adverse consequences to the case. should not be treated the same as an officer with 2 latenesses out of 5 appearances. Similarly, with respect to car accidents, a careless fender bender should be treated differently than a serious accident resulting from gross negligence during a high speed chase.

In order to avoid what they view as an unjust result, some commanders decline to send reports to the HRO. Assistant Chief Proctor assured the Special Committee that the HRO considers all mitigating and aggravating circumstances in recommending a penalty. In any case, the situation points out the need for uniform disciplinary procedures.108

It is disturbing that MPD officials circumvent the disciplinary process. Commanders cannot demand respect for the rules from their subordinates while they disregard the MPD's stated disciplinary procedures. One of the reasons for having a central disciplinary officer is to ensure that similar misconduct receives similar punishment throughout the MPD. Only the HRO has the perspective of weighing factors that affect the entire agency. Circumventing the written procedures can lead to wide variations in the way similar conduct is punished from district to district. Therefore, the Special Committee recommends that the MPD ensure that all personnel adhere to the letter and spirit of the MPD's own rules, and hold accountable those individuals who circumvent the rules based on their individual perception of equity.

Back to top of pageBack to Table of Contents

3. Tracking Discipline

In his testimony before the Special Committee, Chief Ramsey outlined a new system for reporting and tracking discipline cases.109 He stated that he has designed a system that is ''timely. credible, and which can withstand the scrutiny of others." He outlined a disciplinary and complaint process built on the six following principles:

  1. The MPD will conduct internal investigations on misconduct on the basis of fairness and consistency;
  2. All employees of the MPD will comply with the law and the MPD's rules and regulations in both spirit and intent. Sworn officers will be held strictly accountable for their conduct;
  3. The community will be provided with easy to use mechanisms to register complaints and obtain information regarding their complaints;
  4. Investigations will be conducted fairly and impartially with due respect for the rights of members according to the Constitution and the bargaining agreement;
  5. The Department will aim to prevent misconduct; and
  6. All employees must understand their role and perform their obligations in preventing, reporting, and investigating misconduct.

The Chief then announced a new procedure to take effect immediately: all complaints received are brought to the attention of a supervisor. The supervisor then has one hour to report the matter to the Office of Professional Responsibility. OPR will then assign the case a case number for tracking.110

Automated tracking will help prevent individual cases from slipping through the cracks. For example, Captain Maria Alvarenga testified concerning her experience with the disciplinary process. Alvarenga was charged with two counts of misconduct on February 24, 1997. The HRO's initial recommendation was for Alvarenga to serve a 20-day suspension. Alvarenga responded timely to the HRO who, in turn, timely denied that response. Alvarenga then appealed to the Chief of Police on April 9, 1997. Under MPD procedure, the Chief had 15 days to respond to her appeal. Alvarenga did not receive the MPD's response until March 31, 1998. almost one year later. That decision dismissed one count and reduced the recommended suspension to ten days. Because of the delay in obtaining final agency action Alvarenga may have a viable claim for arbitration irrespective of the merits of the MPD's position. Employing a tracking system of the type suggested by Chief Ramsey may help prevent such situations.

On a related note, the Special Committee recommends that the new tracking system follow the disciplinary proceeding from the complaint stage through arbitration. The Special Committee was surprised to learn that the HRO's computer files are not integrated with Labor Relations files. Thus. the HRO is unable readily to access information regarding the disposition of an appeal to the Chief of Police or a submission to the arbitrator.111 The Special Committee believes that one system should allow officials involved in the disciplinary process quick access to all relevant information. The Chief's proposed system should achieve that result. Moreover, the system should provide the MPD with the capability to perform meaningful analyses of the information based upon such factors as race, gender. unit. and offense type.

Back to top of pageBack to Table of Contents

4. Miscellaneous

As previously discussed, the union contract covers only officers and sergeants. At the time of the incident giving rise to her disciplinary case, Alvarenga was a lieutenant in the Fourth District and had recently sat for the captain's examination. Alvarenga was seventh on the list for promotion to captain; that list was to expire in August 1998. Alvarenga was charged with one count of making a false statement and one count of insubordination. The HRO's initial recommendation was that Alvarenga receive a 20-day suspension for the charges. The union contract provides that the MPD may hold in abeyance the promotion of any individual who has a pending suspension of 20 or more days. Because Alvarenga was a lieutenant at the time the charges were made, the contract did not apply to her situation. Yet, the MPD chose to hold Alvarenga to the terms of the union contract and blocked her promotion. The MPD had no written policy concerning the treatment of officials subject to discipline. While the Special Committee lauds the MPD for attempting to treat officers and officials equally, the MPD must ensure that every employee has adequate notice of the rules that may affect his or her livelihood. Therefore, the Special Committee recommends that the MPD place all such rules in writing and provide appropriate notice to all potentially affected personnel.

Alvarenga's case illustrated another issue of concern to the Special Committee; i.e., the level of discretion given to the individual who recommends the charges in the first instance. In Alvarenga's case, the MPD first recommended a 20-day suspension for the two charges. Alvarenga received no explanation concerning the basis for the 20-day recommendation. MPD made no attempt to show that the punishment was consistent with similar cases. This especially concerned the Special Committee for two reasons. First. because the 20-day threshold has such a major impact on a individual s promotional prospects. more care should be given when making a recommendation of that magnitude. Second. the false statement charge was eventually dropped for lack of evidence and the recommended penalty reduced to 10-day suspension. Thus, Alvarenga s promotion was delayed due to a charge that arguably never should have been asserted. The Special Counsel recommends that the MPD review its disciplinary procedures to ensure that recommended punishments are not arbitrary but are based on a combination of the likelihood of proving the charges. the severity of the infraction and valid and articulated precedents.

One way to prevent unreasonable initial recommendations that the MPD may consider would be to narrow the penalty ranges for certain types of misconduct. While this issue was not addressed specifically in the hearing, the Special Committee notes that the penalty ranges set forth in the General Orders gives the individual making the recommendation wide latitude in setting the penalty.112 Obviously, the MPD needs flexibility in setting penalties based upon the mitigating or aggravating circumstances of each case. Nevertheless, the Special Committee finds it problematic that most violations allow for penalties to range from reprimand to removal for the first offense. Having such a wide range of penalties can have the undesired effect of permitting wide variations in the relative severity of punishments based upon the philosophy of the command staff at any given time. The Special Committee suggests that the MPD review the penalty ranges so that penalties will remain consistent and predictable regardless of the disciplinary philosophy of any one particular official. The proposed tracking system should help achieve this result.

Finally, the Special Committee heard anecdotal reports of veteran officers retiring or resigning while under disciplinary investigation. Under current MPD policy officers may decide unilaterally to retire and collect pension rights and other benefits113 accrued during tenure on the department. Officers who have served the requisite number of years to accrue full pension rights are colloquially known to be members of the "KMA" or Kiss My Ass club, because they consider themselves beyond the reach of department discipline. Moreover, high-ranking officials accused of misconduct appear often to opt for retirement before an investigative finding because their length of service affords them full pension rights.114 An additional incentive for a high-ranking official to retire when under investigation is that his pension is calculated according to the rank he held at retirement. If an official is demoted after a disciplinary investigation. resulting in a corresponding reduction in salary, his pension also will be reduced if he subsequently retires at a lower rank.

OPR Director Inspector Kim Dine assured the Special Committee that the Office of Internal Affairs does not terminate an ongoing disciplinary investigation because of a subject s retirement Even if the investigation continues to a finding. however, currently MPD cannot impose an! discipline. Regardless of the severity of the officer's misconduct — assuming that the officer is not subject to criminal prosecution — he is permitted to retire unscathed, with full accrued pension rights and other benefits.

The Special Committee believes that officers who are under disciplinary investigation should not be permitted to escape entirely the consequences of their misconduct. One avenue to consider would be whether the MPD could refuse to accept an officer's tender of retirement during the pendency of a disciplinary investigation into that officer's conduct. The Special Committee proposes that the MPD could conditionally accept the officer's retirement, but withhold payment of pension or other accrued benefits until a disciplinary investigation is concluded and findings are made. Should the officer be exonerated or the allegations not be sustained, he would receive full pension and benefits. Should the allegations be sustained, a fine could be imposed equal to the number of days of suspension that the officer would have received if he had remained on the force. That fine could be offset against the officer's final paycheck or lump sum distribution of benefits or withheld over time from pension payments.115

The Special Committee recognizes there are potential difficulties with this approach. For example, the question arises whether the MPD must continue to pay officers who have "conditionally retired" until their formal separation from the department. Preferably, an officer who has voluntarily retired under investigation should not collect salary; rather, he should be deemed to have voluntarily taken unpaid leave pending the investigation. In addition, it is unclear whether federal and local law, or the MPD Labor Agreement, would permit "conditional retirement" or offset of benefits. Even if benefits could not be offset, there may be value in creating a status of "retirement under disciplinary investigation" and making information about officers who retire under disciplinary investigation available to potential future employers or other interested panties.116

Officers' rights, of course, must be protected. If an officer were to retire without knowledge of a confidential disciplinary investigation, he should not be penalized. Similarly, to ensure that an officer's reputation and benefits are not jeopardized by minor disciplinary,,' infractions, "conditional retirement" should be reserved for certain enumerated serious offenses (e.g., criminal convictions, fraud, theft, excessive force, perjury). Finally, officers who are in "conditional retirement" should be provided the same opportunities to participate in the disciplinary process as they would have been afforded had they remained on the force (i.e., notice and opportunity to be heard).

The Special Committee recommends that the Council adopt legislation consistent with the omnibus proposal that establishes a "conditional retirement" system.

Back to top of pageBack to Table of Contents

5. The Office of Internal Affairs

There are no specified procedures or written guidelines that determine whether a disciplinary investigation should be handled at the unit level or by OIA. Currently, the system relies on the experience and professional discretion of the investigators at OIA to determine whether OIA should get involved. Also, there is no formal system for the field units to apprise OIA of all discipline investigations. such as corrective actions, within the MPD. Unless the investigation is initiated by a PD 99 (citizen complaint), there is no formal process to inform OIA of allegations of misconduct.117 The Special Committee recommends that the MPD draft written guidelines addressing the circumstances under which investigations should be conducted at the unit level and provide a mechanism for OIA to obtain information concerning all allegations of misconduct, including corrective actions.

Prior to 1994. the bulk of internal investigations were handled by OIA. In that year, however, a new mission statement was issued that permitted OIA to use professional discretion in deciding which cases to handle and which cases to "farm out" to the units. Generally speaking, internal Affairs handles complex investigations that involve on-going violations rather than an after the fact investigation of a discrete incident. OIA also tends to handle offenses that can result in serious discipline such as a 30-day suspension or more. Serious offenses or discipline investigations also can be handled at the district level. including excessive force cases. In many police departments, certain serious cases, such as excessive force and bribery cases, are referred solely to Internal Affairs. There are no such clear referral lines currently in the MPD. Instead, referrals to the units are made on an ad hoc basis.

Internal Affairs initiates investigations through citizen complaints, referrals from commanders, and from the USAO. OIA maintains regular contact with the Public Corruption Section of the USAO and participates in a recently-established task force with the USAO and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

As mentioned, OIA handles allegations of corruption involving other all District agencies. To that extent, OlA's jurisdiction currently overlaps with that of the DC. Inspector General. Police departments around the nation appear to be split as to whether a police internal affairs division should investigate corruption in other government agencies. For example the Chicago Internal Affairs Division only investigates the police department and there is a separate inspector General to investigate allegations of corruption for other city agencies. In contrast. the Illinois state police internal affairs branch is authorized to investigate any executive branch employee. MPD officials thought that both approaches had strengths and weaknesses. On the one hand. because of internal Affairs investigatory expertise. it makes sense for OIA to investigate corruption in any agency. On the other hand, depending on OlA's work load, investigating all District agencies could overload the resources of the office.. The Special Committee concludes, therefore, that the jurisdiction of OIA is best left to the professional discretion of the MPD.

Back to top of pageBack to Table of Contents

6. Internal Affairs Staffing

The Office of Internal Affairs has between 31-33 agents, four lieutenants, and two captains. Agents are either sergeants or detectives. Of the 33 agents, approximately 18 are sergeants and the remainder are detectives. Previously there was a seniority requirement for people assigned to OIA. OIA investigators needed to be at the rank of sergeant or above. In 1994, however, detectives were assigned for the first time to OIA in order to reinvigorate the branch. The Department believed that detectives could supply broader investigatory expertise.

Persons assigned to OIA serve at the discretion of the Chief of Police or the Director of OIA, and they relinquish their union rights. Investigators apply for the job at OIA, which conducts a background check reviewing the basic credit and criminal records and the officer's disciplinary records. The background checks do not include polygraph examinations, interviews, or reinterviewing of neighbors or references. Because of the sensitive nature of the position, the Special Committee recommends that the MPD conduct full background investigations of OIA applicants similar to the investigations conducted of new applicants by the Recruiting Division.

Currently, there is no minimum investigatory experience requirement for OIA. As a practical matter, OIA personnel generally have at least 5 years on the job and 3 years investigatory experience. The Special Committee recommends that the MPD formalize this requirement. In interviews with Special Committee Staff, Executive Assistant Chief Terrance Gainer raised the idea of recruiting officers directly out of the Academy to work at OIA. By recruiting officers from the Academy, the MPD can utilize them. in undercover operations before the officers become familiar to other members of the force. Gainer stated that Chicago, Los Angeles, New York City, and Detroit recruit officers out of the in-training academies to work at OIA. It is an approach worth consideration. Currently, if OIA requires the assistance of investigators for undercover operations, it will use FBI agents or persons on assignment from neighboring police departments.

Executive Assistant Chief Gainer also stated that OIA may be too small given its responsibility for investigating corruption throughout the city government. The Chief will review OIA's case-load and statistics before making any decisions. Gainer believed it likely that OIA will receive more personnel.

Back to top of pageBack to Table of Contents

7. OIA's Relationship with Other Agencies

OIA is working on strengthening its relationships with other agencies. This is of particular importance considering the high level of interdependence between OIA and certain other agencies. For example OIA frequently seeks the assistance of FBI agents for undercover investigations.

OlA's reliance upon other agencies is best illustrated by the recent investigation of misconduct within the District of Columbia Water & Sewer Authority ("WASA"). While the hearing testimony did not describe the details of the matter, it was disclosed that the problem concerned the USAO's delay in handing down indictments relating to corruption in the WASA. Commander Lloyd Coward noted that while the relationship between OIA and the USAO generally is healthy, there are some ways in which it could improve.118 First, he cited with approval the recent institution of the USAO, OIA, FBI task force. Coward also suggested that the USAO might assign a prosecutor to OIA much like the community prosecution program that appears to be working well in the Fifth District. This would allow the agencies to avoid problems such as the WASA case by having a prosecutor dedicated to OIA who could put the proper time and energy into such cases. Investigators also would benefit by having a prosecutor close at hand to provide insight and feedback.

An opposing viewpoint was offered by Sergeant Phil Burton (Ret.). Mr. Burton was the agent assigned to the Water & Sewer investigation. He resigned as a result of what he saw as an unreasonable delay in bringing indictments on the part of the USAO and a perceived lack of support by his superiors at OIA. Burton cautioned the Special Committee on Commander Coward s suggestion of a prosecutor assigned to OIA. His experience with the WASA case led him to the conclusion that a prosecutor can effectively co-opt officials at OIA and delay a case. instead, Burton suggested assigning a prosecutor to each agency of the government so that the prosecutor would develop some expertise in the operations of and issues of concern to that agency and have a stake in rooting out corruption within that agency.

Burton also suggested that OIA provide introductory training and orientation to new agents in OIA so that everyone is familiar with how the office operates. This is particularly important considering that OIA has a number of policies that are different than those of other MPD units.

Back to top of pageBack to Table of Contents

8. Recommendations

The Special Committee recommends that MPD:

(1) 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 would include:

i. initial referral to and overall coordination by the Office of Professional Responsibility;

ii. a centralized system for tracking discipline within the Department;

iii. a specialized recruitment and training program for internal Affairs officers;

iv. a comprehensive procedures manual for the Office of Internal Affairs that provides clear guidance on investigative procedures and liaison with other law enforcement agencies;

v. an early warning and intervention system for officers who are repeatedly the subject of complaints, including provisions for appropriate intervention;

vi. revised procedures for the institution of discipline at the district/unit level and the department level; and

vii. revised procedures for the review of disciplinary decisions by the Chief of Police.

(2) Alter the reporting relationship of Labor Relations with respect to appeals of adverse action cases to the Chief of Police in order to prevent even the appearance of undue influence from the HRO.

(3) Ensure that all of its stated disciplinary procedures are followed in both letter and spirit.

(4) Improve its arbitration record by more carefully selecting cases for arbitration based upon likelihood of prevailing on the merits.

Back to top of pageBack to Table of Contents


The Special Committee investigated allegations of individual police misconduct involving potential violations of MPD policy and District of Columbia law. The Special Counsel and in some instances Special Committee Co-Chairs received information regarding such allegations through witness interviews. calls to the hotline and other sources. Each allegation was reviewed. and if the facts suggested a possible violation. the matter was referred to the appropriate law enforcement agency. Violations of MPD policy were referred to MPD's Office of Professional Responsibility . Violations of law were referred to the District of Columbia Inspector General and the U.S. Attorney.

The Special Committee referred for investigation approximately 65 such cases of alleged police misconduct. The allegations ranged from specific violations of MPD policy to potential violations of criminal law.

The Special Committee referred to the Office of Professional Responsibility for further investigation allegations of violations of MPD regulations and District of Columbia law, including:

  1. False statements in connection with employment applications;
  2. False statements in connection with testimony before a governmental body;
  3. Theft of MPD equipment;
  4. Abuse of police powers;
  5. Frequenting the premises of known prostitutes;
  6. Frequenting the premises of known drug dealers; and
  7. Unauthorized off-duty employment.

The Special Committee referred to the Office of the Inspector General for further investigation allegations of violations of District of Columbia law, including:

  1. Diversion of MPD funds,
  2. Theft of MPD property; and
  3. Violation of off-duty regulations and conflict of interest.

The Special Committee referred to the Office the United States Attorney for the District of Columbia for further investigation information concerning the allegations brought to the attention of the Council by MPD officers in October and December 1997.

The Special Committee recommends that the MPD, the U.S. Attorney. and the inspector General expeditiously investigate these matters so as to remedy alleged MPD misconduct.

Back to top of pageForward to next section

Send mail with questions or comments to webmaster@dcwatch.com
Web site copyright ©DCWatch (ISSN 1546-4296)