Nearly nine years ago, I came to <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" /?>Washington, DC, to be a part of something very special. I may have been an outsider at the time, but I was quickly and graciously welcomed by the many dedicated law enforcement professionals who make up the Metropolitan Police Department. My time with you has, without a doubt, been the most fulfilling of my 38-year career in law enforcement. <?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" /?>
When I came to the MPDC, I found a Department that had an idea of where it wanted to go, but needed some help in getting there. I found outstanding people who were frustrated by antiquated technology, vehicles and equipment. I found facilities that needed renovating, an organization that needed restructuring, and, perhaps most of all, an overall sense of organizational pride and purpose that needed to be restored. In meeting and talking with our members, I came to realize that the mission of the Department was intact, but that many obstacles lay in the way. Over the past eight-and-a-half years, I have worked tirelessly to overcome those obstacles and restore the pride of this great Department. Looking back, I believe we have made amazing progress. Today, the MPDC is stronger, more confident and better prepared to deal with the challenges that lie ahead.
We are certainly a more professional and respected police department. Salaries have been increased, promotions have become more regular, technology has been modernized, our fleet and facilities have been upgraded, and training has become more extensive and relevant. More members than ever before are being given the opportunity to enhance their skills and further their careers. Our Department has become nationally recognized in a number of areas: from managing police use of force and serving communities with specialized needs, to enhancing traffic safety using automation and providing powerful training in civil rights and police responsibility in partnership with the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.
And, of course, we have made great strides in working with the community to combat crime. Through our Policing for Prevention strategy, we have engaged more residents than ever before in neighborhood safety, and we have given them not only the tools, but also the support and the hope needed to make our neighborhoods safer. The members of the MPDC took the first bold step in establishing the trust between police and community that is so essential to our success. And your efforts have certainly paid off. Crime in the District of Columbia is down nearly 40 percent over the past eight years, and our crime rate is the lowest it’s been in decades. Thanks to all of you, our city is much, much safer.
In recent weeks, people have asked me what my most memorable moment or event has been at the MPDC. There is no doubt that I have had the opportunity to take part in events of history that only the Chief of Police in our Nation’s Capital could witness: the response to the terrorist attacks of 9/11, the inaugurals of our 43rd President, the funeral of our 40th, any number of celebrations, protests and other major events, as well as the economic and social rejuvenation of our city. But the one event that really sticks out in my mind is the spring 2000 IMF/World Bank event.
Coming on the heels of the so-called “battle in Seattle” in which demonstrators caused millions of dollars in damage to that city, the meetings here in Washington, DC, drew worldwide attention. But even with all of the pressure and scrutiny, the members of our Department rose to the challenge and met our goals. We enabled the IMF and World Bank to hold their meetings. We allowed for peaceful and lawful protest. And, most of all, we protected our city from widespread violence and property damage. From that moment forward, I knew for sure that the MPDC was a truly top-notch police department, capable of handling just about anything. And over the years, you have proven me correct, time after time.
Although my run as Chief of this fine department has come to a close, I look forward to remaining part of the MPDC family. This is a very special place that has touched me profoundly. As I depart the MPDC, I am leaving behind some personal reflections on what I have come to see as guiding principles for policing in our Nation’s Capital. A booklet entitled In Service to Others is being distributed to members this week. I hope you read it, and, more importantly, I hope you continue to practice what it says for many years to come.
I thank you again for your hard work, your support and your friendship. It has been an honor to have served alongside all of you. I will always be a part of the MPDC, and the MPDC will always be a part of me.
Charles H. Ramsey
Chief of Police