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Oversight Hearing on Proposed FY2001 Budget

Tuesday, March 28, 2000

Oversight Hearing on Proposed FY2001 Budget

Statement from the Metropolitan Police Department

Chairman Brazil, members of the committee, other Council members and guests - I appreciate the opportunity to present the Metropolitan Police Department's proposed budget for the fiscal year 2001 and to answer any questions you may have. With me at the witness table are Executive Assistant Chief Terrance Gainer, Executive Director for Corporate Support Eric Coard, and Chief Financial Officer Dan Tangherlini. Other MPDC staff members are in the audience. As a note to you and to our viewing audience on Channel 13, the text of my prepared remarks today, like all of my statements before the Council, is available on the Police Department's Web site - mpdc.dc.gov.

Today's hearing comes at a time of continued progress within the MPDC and in the communities we serve. I have testified many times in the past about the investments the Police Department has made over the last two years - investments in our people, our technology, our facilities, our equipment and our training. These investments have been possible through the support of the Mayor and this Council, along with Congress and the Clinton Administration. Today, I am pleased to report that our investments in these critical areas continue to pay off.

Crime in the District of Columbia is at its lowest level in almost three decades - and our crime rate continues to fall. Last calendar year, reported crime in the District declined more than 14 percent, according to preliminary figures, with reductions in each of the eight major crime categories. So far this year, crime is down another 18 percent citywide, according to preliminary data. This includes a slight reduction in homicides for the year. You will recall that murders were up sharply during the first two months of this year, but have fallen since then.

At the same time, public confidence in the Police Department is on the rise. A recent Washington Post survey found that 63 percent of District residents gave our Department a rating of "excellent" or "good." This compares with 49 percent who gave the MPDC similar ratings just three years ago. And 8 in 10 residents said they feel safe in their neighborhoods, up from 6 in 10 in 1993. Most importantly, this combination of lower crime and increased public confidence in the police is translating into stronger bonds of trust and partnership between our officers and the community. This is crucial as we continue to move forward with implementing our enhanced community policing strategy, what we call "Policing for Prevention."

The MPDC's proposed budget for FY 2001 supports the continuation of these and other positive trends. For even with the improved public opinion on crime and policing, our residents spoke loudly and clearly last November at the "Neighborhood Action" Citizen Summit: building safe and healthy neighborhoods remains their top priority. This budget advances that priority not only by supporting more police officers, but also by allowing our Department to maintain the crucial investments we have made over the last two years in training, technology and other programs that promote community policing.

Operating Budget Overview

The Department's proposed operating budget for FY 2001 is $301.8 million. While this represents an overall decrease of approximately $3.2 million from the FY 2000 budget, the entire reduction is accounted for by a decline in federal funds. Because several existing grants will conclude during the current fiscal year, federal spending in FY 2001 is projected to decrease by $3.9 million, while local spending would increase by approximately $780,000. As in past years, salaries, overtime and benefits account for the bulk of the Department's FY 2001 operating budget - approximately 85.5 percent of the total. The remaining 14.5 percent covers such non-personal services as equipment, supplies, rent, utilities and other services. This total does not include the $30 million in new capital funds the Department will receive next year. I will discuss our capital budget a little later.

Earlier today, my office delivered to the Committee several documents that correct errors that, for one reason or another, were printed in the FY 2001 budget book. For the record, I want to acknowledge these errors and explain a few of the key corrections we have provided to you. These corrections in no way change the bottom line figures of the Department's proposed FY 2001 budget. They do, however, provide a more accurate accounting of how our proposed funds would be allocated within the Department.

  • First, the proposed budget supports 4,624 full-time equivalents, not 4,826 as originally printed. The additional FTEs were the result of an inadvertent double-counting of the 200 officers we plan to hire through a federal Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) grant beginning next year. These 200 officers were counted in both the local and federal FTE figures, instead of just the federal total.
  • Second, the proposed funding for the Office of the Chief of Police was overstated by approximately $3.7 million, due to an error in the line-item budget for the Office of General Counsel, which is a responsibility center within my office. The proposed funding level for the General Counsel's Office, which has 10 employees, is approximately $611,000 - not the $4.3 million stated in the budget book. Conversely, the spending for personal services in Regional Operations, which includes our police districts and other operational units, was understated by that same figure of $3.7 million.
  • Third, the proposed FTEs for "Operations Command" is overstated by more than 200 officers. Operations Command is the unit that oversees field operations during the evening and midnight shifts, as well as the Mobile Force and other specialized operations. These FTEs, representing primarily the additional officers that will be hired through the federal COPS office grant, belong within the three Regional Operations Command.
  • Finally, as has been widely reported already, the budget book overstated by seven the number of FTEs for the Executive Protection Unit. I recently asked the United States Secret Service to complete a thorough and independent analysis of this unit and to provide me with a recommended staffing level. Based on their recommendation, the unit is currently staffed by 15 officers, three sergeants and one lieutenant. I recognize this level is four higher than the number stated in the District's appropriations bill for the current fiscal year. As required by law, I have notified Council Chair Cropp, as well as Congress, of the enhanced staffing level and the rationale behind it. There are no plans to increase the size of the Executive Protection Unit in FY 2001. Because of a technical error, the additional FTEs were counted in the Protection Unit, when they should have been included in Central Crime Analysis (the next line on the budget table), which incorrectly listed no FTEs in the FY 2001 budget book.

I apologize for any confusion or inconvenience these errors may have caused you or your staff members, but I appreciate the opportunity to address these issues in time for Council mark-up of the final appropriations bill. Again, the updated information we have provided you does not change the bottom line of our proposed budget. It does represent, however, a much more accurate accounting of how FY 2001 funds would be spent, and I will be referring to these corrected numbers during the remainder of my testimony. I have also taken steps to ensure that we do a better job in the future of preventing the types of technical errors that occurred with this year's budget numbers. For FY 2002, we will begin our internal budget development process even earlier than we did this year, and we will begin to assign preliminary dollar amounts to our various responsibility centers earlier in the process. In addition, we will initiate a more thorough staff review of the final proofs of the budget book sections that pertain to our Department, and will ensure that we have adequate time to complete this final review. I am determined to see that the type of after-the-fact corrections that took place this year will not happen again.

Staffing Goals

The proposed FY 2001 operating budget supports 3,600 locally funded sworn officers, plus the 200 additional officers who will be supported by a three-year, $15 million federal grant from the COPS office. However, the federal grant becomes available only after we are able to reach the 3,600 mark in locally funded officers. Our present staffing level stands at approximately 3,500 officers, so we need to increase our sworn head count by another 100 officers before we can take advantage of the grant funds. The federal grant also requires a local salary match, as well as additional non-personal services spending for items such as equipment and uniforms. Because the proposed FY 2001 budget is already tight, our Department plans to seek a waiver from the COPS office for the local match requirement. In addition, $1.3 million in equipment and supplies funds are set aside in the so-called "reserve fund" for equipping these new hires.

Our goal is to reach the 3,800 mark during FY 2002. Reaching this goal will require not only a waiver of the local match requirement and the availability of non-personal services funds for the additional officers, but also better recruitment and hiring on our part. We have already begun to make significant progress in these areas, especially through our new lateral-hiring program. As you know, this program is permitting the Department to quickly increase both the quantity and the quality of our force by bringing in experienced officers from other law enforcement agencies at salaries commensurate with their experience. The first class of 30 lateral hires started yesterday a condensed, eight-week training at our Institute of Police Science. We expect to bring on at least another 30 lateral hires a month for each of the next four months, for a total of 150 experienced officers available for patrol duties. Once again, I want to thank Chairman Brazil and members of the Council for your strong support of the lateral-hiring initiative.

I would also invite you to visit our new recruiting office, which will be opening soon in the lobby of 300 Indiana Avenue. This will provide a much more attractive and accessible walk-in facility than the current office in DC Village. In addition, we will be holding our second annual Police Career Expo on May 6th at the Washington Convention Center, with a strong emphasis on reaching out to potential applicants from our Asian and Hispanic communities. And we will continue to recruit aggressively through our Web site, where potential candidates can learn about both sworn and civilian career opportunities in the MPDC - and even initiate the application process online. Our Department is committed to meeting our hiring goals in FY 2000 and FY 2001, because meeting those goals will translate into more officers in our neighborhoods, fighting crime and developing partnerships with the community.

In the meantime, though, our Department continues to work at maximizing the number of sworn officers who are working either directly in field operations or in critical support functions, such as training and internal affairs, that support field operations. During the remainder of the current fiscal year, we plan to place an additional 276 officers in street operations, through a combination of new recruit and lateral hires (over and above attrition) and the redeployment of dozens of existing officers. For example, during the third quarter of FY 2000, we plan to redeploy 109 officers currently performing district support functions to street operations. Overall, we plan to increase operational staffing by 172 in the third quarter and another 104 in the fourth quarter, for a total of 276 officers. We intend to assign 226 of these officers to PSAs and 50 to specialized units such as narcotics and gangs that have been traditionally understaffed.

The net gain of 226 officers working directly in the PSAs will have a marked impact on police presence and community policing in our neighborhoods. According to our most recent figures, there are currently 1,243 police officers working full duty in the PSAs. Another 160 officers are assigned to PSAs but are not full duty for a variety of reasons, such as limited-duty status, extended sick leave, no-contact status, outstanding disciplinary matters or administrative leave. Putting an additional 226 officers in the PSAs will increase by 18 percent the number of police officers working full duty in the PSAs - to a total of 1,469 (with 1,629 assigned). When you include sergeants and lieutenants, our full-duty PSA staffing level will be 1,706 (with 1,866 assigned).

We will meet these PSA staffing goals, in part, because we are making more effective use of our limited-duty officers in district support assignments. Many of the jobs in district stations do not require a full-duty, sworn member, so we are now assigning and training our limited-duty personnel to handle these station tasks. At the same time, meeting our PSA staffing goals will require that we hire approximately 65 civilians to fill positions - mostly in the cell block, communications and property areas - that are currently held by sworn police officers. Many of these civilian hires are already in progress, and we received a number of quality applicants at the Civilian Career Fair that was held earlier this month. Of course, these civilianization plans are contingent upon our continued ability to hire new civilian personnel in the coming weeks and months. Finally, I intend to establish a strict auditing function to ensure that the redeployment and hiring plans I outlined this afternoon are indeed implemented and our goals are met.

Program Plans

In addition to funding more officers, the FY 2001 budget supports the continuation of critical community policing and crime fighting initiatives. I would like to highlight of them for you.

  • The additional officers we realize in operations this year will allow our Department to increase staffing in our major narcotics units and to establish a gang crimes unit within our Special Services Command. Even with the dramatic reductions in crime, our city continues to face serious problems with illegal drugs, gangs and youth violence. Expansion of our citywide anti-drug and anti-gang efforts will allow us to better analyze and address the complicated nexus of these problems.
  • The FY 2001 budget also supports continued development of our youth violence prevention efforts. Led by Assistant Chief Rodney Monroe, this multi-faceted initiative augments our focused law enforcement efforts with a range of neighborhood partnership and systemic prevention strategies. The goal is to remove the most criminally active and dangerous offenders from the community, while re-directing the lives of at-risk youth through expanded educational, career and life-skills opportunities. We are already working with Reverend Anthony Motley and other ministers on a seven-point initiative targeting youth violence east of the river. And we continue to work with the Alliance of Concerned Men and other groups involved in the Benning Terrace truce. The FY 2001 budget will allow us to expand these and other community policing approaches to youth violence prevention to other parts of the District.
  • Expanded efforts this fiscal year to combat illegal drug trafficking will continue in FY 2001. These include increased training and use of targeted strategies such as reverse stings, buy-bust operations and observation posts. We also plan to establish a drug hotline for residents to anonymously report drug activity or to submit tips via our Web site. And this summer, we will be doubling the number of open-air ministations, which will allow us to increase police presence in even more hot spots of drug trafficking and crime during FY 2001.
  • The budget will allow us to continue the "Partnerships for Problem Solving" community training initiative that we began last summer in the six open-air drug markets, also known as "capital communities." This unique program uses teams of police officers and volunteer citizen trainers to teach residents and PSA officers how to solve neighborhood crime and disorder problems using a five-step problem-solving model. This program has expanded from the six capital communities to 34 PSAs citywide, with plans to deliver training and establish problem-solving partnerships on all 83 PSAs by the end of the third quarter of FY 2001. After that, we intend to explore the possibility of providing special problem-solving training for our young people, to get them more involved in the community policing process.
  • In anticipation of the new Citizens Complaint Review Board, our Department plans to be much more proactive in the investigation of police misconduct and to expand our auditing and compliance functions this year and into FY 2001. Because police integrity is so central to community policing, I recently placed an assistant chief, Brian Jordan, in charge of our Office of Professional Responsibility. In addition to increased staffing, OPR will soon be moving to a new location out of Police Headquarters. The goal is to make it easier and less intimidating for complainants, witnesses and others to come forward and assist in investigations.
  • In the area of traffic safety, our use of automated enforcement techniques will expand this year and into FY 2001. We are already seeing dramatic reductions in red-light running at those intersections where photo enforcement cameras have been installed. The number of violations has declined 60 percent at targeted intersections citywide. At New York Avenue and 4th Street, NW—a notorious intersection that was the site of our first camera last summer—the reduction in violations has been an astonishing 86 percent. In addition to installing more red-light cameras, we intend to use this same technology to address problems of chronic speeding on District streets. These programs are helping us improve traffic safety, while bringing in new revenue for the District. Finally, in the area of traffic control, 27 new civilian traffic control aides will graduate tomorrow and be assigned to critical intersections throughout the District. We hope to expand this program in FY 2001.
  • In the area of technology, we will complete the installation of 300 new mobile data computers and upgrades to 177 more devices during the third quarter of this fiscal year. In conjunction with the new computer-aided dispatch system that was installed during the second quarter, these new devices will allow officers on the street to access more information, more quickly than ever before in FY 2001 and beyond.
  • Finally, in FY 2001, we plan to initiate a four-year program to install a defibrillator in at least one scout car in each PSA in the city. Studies show that police officers are frequently the first officials on the scene of many medical emergencies. Other cities have shown that properly trained officers, equipped with defibrillators, can save the lives of many heart attack victims.

Capital Budget Overview

The Department's capital budget for FY 2001 includes $30 million in new funds. This budget will allow our Department to continue the aggressive program of facilities renovation and information technology upgrades that we began two years ago. It will also streamline our facilities management and reduce long-term rent costs.

  • The capital budget includes full funding for the Department's IT plan. This will allow us to complete implementation of the Department's multi-year records management system, called PRIDE. In addition, the plan includes development of a state-of-the-art performance monitoring system.
  • The capital budget will allow us to continue to make needed improvements in our district stations and other facilities. While recent renovations have focused on basic infrastructure improvements such as roofing, heating and air conditioning, and the like, future upgrades will address fire and life safety issues. New locks, sprinklers, fire alarms and sophisticated building access and security systems will be installed at various facilities.
  • In addition, the FY 2001 capital budget includes funds for new or extensively renovated facilities for Fleet Management, Evidence Property, Mobile Crime and Special Operations. These new and upgraded facilities will improve not just the appearance but, more importantly, the productivity of these units. And by reducing rental properties from our inventory, the Department will save considerable sums of money in our operating budget.
  • Finally, the capital budget includes funds to purchase a helicopter for use not only by the MPDC but also by other public safety agencies in the District. The helicopter will be a valuable law enforcement tool in open-air drug markets, water search-and-rescue operations, and the management of police pursuits, large-scale demonstrations and other events. We also intend to assist the Fire Department and the Emergency Management Agency with aerial support of their operations. And the helicopter will be invaluable in collecting GIS data for use by various District government agencies, as well as assisting in traffic flow analysis and road construction management.

Making DC a Safer, More Livable City

Those are the highlights of the Police Department's proposed operating and capital budgets for FY 2001. This budget allows us to increase our sworn officer ranks, so that we can continue putting more officers in the community to fight crime and establish stronger partnerships with the community. The budget also supports a variety of programmatic initiatives that will enhance and expand community policing in the District. And the budget will protect—and continue—those critical investments in infrastructure, training and technology that we have made in the last two years.

It is these investments that have allowed us to achieve our recent success in reducing crime and restoring community confidence in its Police Department. In FY 2001, working even more closely with the community, the MPDC will continue to make the District of Columbia a safer, more livable city.