Committee on the Judiciary
The Honorable Kathy Patterson, Chair
Council of the District of Columbia
Charles H. Ramsey
Chief of Police
Chief Charles H. Ramsey delivered the following statement during the Oversight Hearing on FY2002 Proposed Budget for the Metropolitan Police Department, DC Council Committee on the Judiciary. The hearing was held on March 23, 2001 with the honorable Kathy Patterson, Chair presiding.
Madame Chair, members of the Committee, other Councilmembers and distinguished guests — I appreciate the opportunity to appear before the Committee once again, this time to review the highlights of the Metropolitan Police Department's proposed budget for fiscal year 2002 and to attempt to answer any questions you may have about our budget. As a note to you and to our viewing audience on DC Cable 13, the text of my prepared remarks is available on the Police Department's website - mpdc.dc.gov.
In testifying before the Committee two weeks ago on FY2000 and FY2001 performance, I laid out those areas where our Department has made significant progress: enhancing police presence on the street, successfully training and equipping our officers, expanding community policing and, perhaps most importantly, helping to bring down the District's crime rate for a fifth consecutive year last year. I also outlined those areas that are priorities for improvement. These include improving criminal investigations, enhancing customer satisfaction and implementing new technology to support crime fighting and community policing.
I am pleased to report that the Department's proposed budget for FY2002 will allow us to sustain the progress we have made in the recent past and address those critical priorities we have identified for the future. While next year's budget represents a slight overall increase from FY2001 levels, it does not contain a lot of new spending for a lot of new programs. What the budget does provide are the resources we need to accomplish the basics of fighting crime, extending community policing and enhancing the quality of life in our neighborhoods.
Operating Budget Overview
The Department's proposed operating budget for FY 2002 from all funding sources is $316.1 million dollars. This represents an increase of approximately $9.3 million dollars, or about 3 percent over the FY 2001 budget. The budget proposes increases in both personal services (which continue to account for about 83 percent of our overall budget) and critical non-personal services. The proposed capital budget for the Department, which I will discuss a little later, contains another $46.3 million dollars to support key infrastructure and information technology projects.
Sworn officer strength
The proposed budget supports 4,580 full-time equivalents (FTEs): 3,800 sworn members and 780 civilian FTEs. As I have reported to the Committee on several occasions in the past, my goal - and the Mayor's goal - is to bring the MPDC up to our fully authorized level of 3,800 officers. The FY2002 budget, as proposed, provides the funding needed to make substantial progress toward that goal. Significantly, the budget includes the local fund match required for the $15 million dollar federal COPS grant the Department recently received. This grant and the matching funds will support 200 additional officers over the three-year life of the grant.
It remains unlikely, however, that we will be able to reach our goal of 3,800 officers during FY2002. But this budget will allow us to continue hiring at a steady pace and to continue building up toward our authorized level. As you know, the District's FY2002 budget includes full funding for the longevity measure recently passed by Congress. This will likely prompt more retirement-eligible officers to actually take retirement during FY2002. As a result, we will have a dual challenge: to recruit, screen, hire and train the additional officers needed to bring us from our current level up to 3,800, and to keep pace with attrition rates that will likely rise. As of this week, 326 officers, or about 9 percent of the total force, were retirement-eligible. Depending on how many of them actually choose to retire, we are facing a major recruiting and hiring challenge over the next 18 to 24 months.
As I reported two weeks ago, interest in joining the MPDC remains very strong, among both new recruits and lateral-hire candidates from other departments. One thing I can assure you: we will not cut corners when it comes to screening candidates, conducting thorough background investigations, and providing quality training. Even if it takes a little longer, we will build up to 3,800 officers the right way - with candidates who are carefully screened and highly qualified, motivated and trained.
The support for new officers in this budget will allow us to extend our community policing strategy. This involves not only putting more officers on the street, but also equipping and training them to work effectively with the community in problem solving. It also means training the community in community policing through our "Partnerships for Problem Solving" program, and enlisting the community's ideas and energies in safeguarding their own neighborhoods. And it means working to address the underlying causes and conditions of crime in our community, as our Office of Youth Violence Prevention in doing in partnership with the clergy and other community stakeholders East of the River and, now, in other parts of the District. The FY2002 budget supports these and other essential ingredients of "Policing for Prevention."
Finally, bringing new officers on the force will give us the leverage to promote or reassign some existing officers to investigative or other specialized positions. This will be critically important as we work to improve criminal investigations, enhance victim services and address new and emerging crime problems.
Police Cadet program
I am also very pleased that the proposed FY2002 budget will support continuation of the Police Cadet program. As you know, we received funding in the current fiscal year to begin the program, initially with about 20 to 30 District youth. These young people will work for the MPDC in a part-time, paid, civilian capacity, and they will attend the University of the District of Columbia the rest of the time, with their tuition reimbursed by the Department. Those who successfully complete the program, including at least two years of college, will then move into the Academy to begin training as sworn officers. I met yesterday with a group of high school principals and guidance counselors from across the District to explain the program, and they are genuinely excited by the prospect. I certainly share their excitement. The Cadet Program not only will give us a steady pool of qualified candidates; it will also provide our young people who live in the District of Columbia with the opportunity to go to school and become respected public service professionals in our city. We are actively recruiting candidates for the Cadet program, and hope to begin the first class sometime this summer.
In terms of overall civilian strength, the FY2002 budget authorizes 780 FTEs. This represents no change from our current civilian staffing, after you factor out the 43 positions that were eliminated in the current fiscal year as part of the Mayor's Savings Initiative. The only major change in civilian staffing is that $1.7 million dollars is being shifted from our "Other" funds budget to our "Local" budget to support 46 of the 71 operators in our communications center. In the current fiscal year, all of these employees are being paid out of 9-1-1/3-1-1 user fees. In FY2002, only 25 of these FTEs will be supported by the user fees, which should free up funds for additional non-personal services to support 9-1-1 and 3-1-1.
The proposed FY2002 budget will allow us to continue the essential administrative, managerial and support functions that our civilian employees perform. However, with no increase in civilian FTEs, our civilianization efforts are effectively on hold. If I cannot hire qualified civilians to take the place of sworn officers performing essential administrative and support duties, I cannot justify moving those officers to the field. One thing I do plan to undertake in FY2002 is an analysis of where we have our civilian employees assigned and what functions they perform. Our Department has undergone numerous strategic and organizational changes over the last three years, but we have never really taken a hard look at whether we are maximizing the use of our civilian employees to support those changes.
One final personnel issue I want to address is overtime. The proposed FY2002 decreases our overtime budget by approximately $6 million dollars. Our Department remains committed to doing everything we can to control overtime spending, but many of our overtime costs - especially costs related to court overtime - remain outside our immediate control. Still, we are taking steps to reduce both court and non-court overtime in our current and future budgets. For example, we are working with the Corporation Counsel's Office to reform the papering process for many of the quality-of-life crime handled by that office. Under a pilot program that will begin soon in ROC Central, officers will no longer have to appear in court to swear out charges against a defendant, but can do that right in their district station. In addition, we are working with the Bureau of Traffic Adjudication to establish a traffic court calendar for each officer. Under this system, officers would be assigned a specific date each month for all of their BTA cases, rather than having to go to the BTA several different days a month to testify. We are hopeful that the success of these and other changes will prompt a new dialogue with the US Attorney's Office and the DC Superior Courts about implementing further reforms to reduce court overtime and increase the number of officers on the street.
In the area of training, the proposed FY2002 budget will allow us to continue the reform program we have initiated in recent years. These include the doubling of firearms training, from 8 to 16 hours a year; the introduction of a mandatory 40-hour in-service training program for all sworn members; the addition of in-service training for civilians, and the establishment of a formal curriculum of daily roll-call training topics. These and other training reforms have been an essential ingredient in our success, and the proposed budget will allow us to continue these efforts. We also plan important new training initiatives in the coming months, including the Criminal Investigators Academy I mentioned in my previous testimony and expanded customer service training for call-takers, district station personnel and other members who have frequent contact with the public.
At the same time, our ability to hire new officers and put them on the street is limited by the capacity of our Training Academy. Given the current size of the facility itself, we can handle only so many recruit officers at any one time. In looking to the future, we are exploring the possibility of adding a floor to the current structure, as a way to create more classroom space for both recruit and in-service training.
In the area of non-personal services, overall funding in the proposed FY2002 budget increases by about 13.5 percent. However, many of these expenditures represent fixed costs for such things as utilities, rent and many contractual services. As a result, true discretionary spending in our non-personal services is somewhat limited.
Still, the proposed budget will allow us to move forward on vital information technology and traffic safety programs, among others. For example, implementing new IT systems and resolving some internal network problems remain priorities that we will be able to address with this budget. In addition, the budget - both operating and capital funds - will support the continued development of our 9-1-1 and 3-1-1 communications systems. We are scheduled to move our primary communications center from the 6th floor of Police Headquarters to the new joint facility with the Fire and EMS Department on McMillan Drive, NW, during the first week of June 2000. Maintenance of the system on McMillan Drive, and planning for the Unified Communications Center, will continue into FY2002.
In the area of traffic safety, the FY2002 budget envisions continued strong federal support for our efforts targeting drunken driving, underage drinking, and seat belt and child safety seat compliance. Under the leadership of Lt. Patrick Burke, our traffic safety coordinator, our Department has been very aggressive in seeking out and receiving federal grants to pay for overtime and equipment for these programs. And unlike some of our neighboring states, the District has not been threatened with a reduction in these federal funds, primarily because our drunken driving and seat belt laws remain very strong. I want to thank the Committee and the entire Council for your support in this important public safety area.
The FY2002 budget will allow us to expand our automated traffic enforcement program. We will continue the red-light camera program, which has contributed to a 59 percent reduction in violations at the 39 intersections equipped with camera. In addition, the new budget will support our photo radar initiative, which targets speeding on District streets and highways - an extremely serious problem, as you well know. Last year, for example, speeding was a contributing factor in 56 percent of the fatal crashes in our city. We believe that just as the red-light cameras have conditioned more people to stop on red, photo radar should help to dramatically reduce speeding in our city.
Initially, this program will include five vehicles that will be rotated among locations that have a history of speeding-related incidents or have generated citizen complaints. The technology works much the same way as the red-light cameras. When drivers are caught speeding, their rear license plate is captured on film, and a notice of infraction is sent to the registered owner of the vehicle. Both of these programs operate at no cost to the Police Department. All one-time and operating costs related to equipment and the processing of tickets are paid by the vendor, which receives a fixed fee from each citation that is paid. Even though the pass-through of these fees do not represent actual costs to the District, the CFO has required that we have money loaded into the Police Department's budget to cover the fee payments that are made to the vendor. The FY2002 budget includes this line item for both red-light cameras and photo radar.
Finally, the FY2002 budget allows us to exercise the second year option on our fleet maintenance contract. One note about fleet: as you may have heard earlier this week, I have asked both the MPDC's Office of Professional Responsibility and the District's Inspector General to examine the performance of our fleet maintenance contract. I feel it is critical that we get a fresh, independent look at the many questions that have been raised about this matter and let the chips fall where they may. Capital Budget Overview On the capital budget side, the FY 2002 proposal of $46.3 million dollars represents continuation funding for a variety of critical infrastructure and information technology projects. No new capital budget projects are planned or funded for FY2002.
The proposed capital budget will allow us to move forward on Phase 3 of our comprehensive facilities upgrade program. This program has resulted in dramatic improvements in our district stations and other police facilities. New locker rooms, windows, heating and air conditioning systems, plumbing, security systems and other improvements have helped to boost employee morale and make our facilities more attractive and accessible to the public. Along those lines, we are in the process of revamping the desk areas in the district stations to make them more customer-friendly, and we will be adding lighting to the outside of our facilities so that people can better recognize and access police facilities in the District.
Over the next five years, the proposed capital budget for the MPDC totals $78.6 million. This funding will be critical as we continue to rebuild the MPDC's infrastructure and promote community policing through better facilities and improved information technology.
Building a Safer City ... Neighborhood by Neighborhood
Mayor Williams has emphasized that the District's overall FY2002 budget is about getting back to basics - about building a safer, more livable city ... block by block, neighborhood by neighborhood. The MPDC's proposed budget reflects that priority. The budget adds new officers to our communities. It supports ongoing efforts to train, equip and professionalize our sworn personnel and civilian employees. It maintains our physical and technological infrastructure. And perhaps most importantly, the budget keeps our "Policing for Prevention" strategy moving forward - addressing neighborhood problems in the short term and forging strong partnerships for the long haul. It is our success in community policing that will ultimately determine our success as a police department and as a city in ensuring public safety.
I look forward to working with the Committee and the full Council as we work together toward that common goal in FY2002 and beyond. Thank you. I will be happy to address any questions.