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Oversight Hearing on Proposed FY2004 Budget for the Metropolitan Police Department

Monday, March 31, 2003

Oversight Hearing on Proposed FY2004 Budget for the Metropolitan Police Department

Statement from the Metropolitan Police Department

Charles H. Ramsey
Chief of Police
Metropolitan Police Department

Chief Charles H. Ramsey delivered the following statement to the Committee on the Judiciary, the Honorable Kathy Patterson, Chair, Council of the District of Columbia on March 31, 2003.

Madame Chair, members of the Committee and Council, staff and guests – thank you for the opportunity to present this opening statement outlining the Metropolitan Police Department’s proposed budget for fiscal year 2004. Other members of the Department’s Command Staff are here today to assist me in responding to your questions. As a reminder to the public, the text of my prepared testimony is posted on the Police Department’s website, mpdc.dc.gov.

Today’s budget hearing comes at a unique and challenging time for our nation, for our nation’s capital, for the Metropolitan Police Department and for the communities we serve. With our nation at war abroad, with the heightened threat of terrorism here at home, with more and more Americans taking to the streets to express their opinions about the war and other events, and with street crime, traffic safety and quality-of-life problems still major issues in our neighborhoods – the demands on public safety here in the District have probably never been greater … and the expectations of our performance have probably never been higher. Our police officers and MPD civilian employees are rising to the challenge of these challenging times, and they are performing with tremendous skill and dedication. I am very proud of our members, and I want to use this opportunity to publicly thank them and commend them for their service during this unique period of our history.

As challenging and unpredictable as these times are, I think we all need to be realistic about what the future may hold. The challenges we face today are not likely to go away, or even subside, very soon. If anything, the demands on our Department will only intensify in the weeks and months and even years to come.

But as much as national and international events will continue to impact our city, one fact remains: the number one priority of the Metropolitan Police Department is the safety of our neighborhoods. That will not change. The Mayor has made it clear that neighborhood safety is one of the top three priorities of his Administration. And even with all of the other issues and responsibilities our Department has had to confront over the past 18 months, since “Nine-Eleven,” we are more focused than ever on fighting crime and improving the quality of life in our neighborhoods. In fact, a major reason I have put our officers on 12-hour shifts over the last week is so we can maintain our neighborhood patrols, while also managing increased protest activity and terrorist threats.

The proposed FY2004 budget for the Metropolitan Police Department reflects the unique challenges facing our city and the priority that the Mayor, our Department and our citizens have placed on public safety. This budget puts our agency in a much stronger position than before to tackle those challenges and to enhance our service to the community, through the hiring of additional police officers and by fully funding the commitments to our current employees. In short, this budget provides for the personnel and other critical resources that we need to operate this Department, to manage it effectively, and to achieve the type of results – in our neighborhoods – that I know we are capable of achieving.

I should point out that in the areas of emergency preparedness and homeland security, the District continues to aggressively pursue federal funding to cover many of our public safety costs. To date, our Department has received a large amount of federal support for specialized equipment, training and other needs. And we are confident that additional funding for homeland security at the federal level will mean more dollars for the District as well. But improving the safety of our neighborhoods – and doing so during a lasting period of heightened alert for terrorism – will require the type of funding commitment contained in our FY04 budget.

The Department’s proposed operating budget for FY04 is approximately $379 million dollars from all funding sources. As in past years, close to 81 percent of the FY04 budget – approximately $309 million dollars – is for “Personal Services” to cover the salaries, fringe benefits and other costs associated with our sworn and civilian employees. The remaining 19 percent of the budget – approximately $69.5 million dollars – covers a variety of “Nonpersonal Services” to include supplies, utilities, telecommunications, rent and the like.

The FY04 budget represents an increase of approximately $58 million dollars from the Department’s approved budget for FY03, or an increase of about 18 percent. However, the approved budget for FY03 has been revised over the course of this fiscal year, primarily through the addition of $23 million dollars in Workforce Investment funds to cover some of the cost of pay increases negotiated with our unions. So compared with the revised budget for FY03, which totals nearly $361 million dollars, the FY04 mark represents an increase of about $18 million dollars, or just over 5 percent.

I want to spend a few minutes walking you through our Personal Services budget for FY04, and explain how next year’s budget reflects a more realistic and sound approach to funding our personnel needs.

  • First, the FY04 budget fully funds the pay increases contained in collective bargaining agreements negotiated last year with our sworn and civilian unions and approved by the Council. As I mentioned, these negotiated pay increases were not included in the baseline budget for the current fiscal year. Rather, they were paid for through a combination of one-time Workforce Investment funds and other parts of our Personal Services budget, including funds intended for new hires. The FY04 proposal corrects this structural problem. It allows our Department to meet our commitments to existing employees, while continuing to build for the future.
  • The FY04 budget corrects another serious structural deficiency in our current budget: namely, how we pay for overtime. As you know, our overtime costs fall into two categories: court overtime, which includes the costs of officers required to appear in court by the US Attorney; and discretionary overtime, which Department managers use to cover unanticipated needs, special enforcement efforts and the like. Through various reforms and management controls, our Department has been able to hold the line on overtime spending – and even decrease spending substantially during the first six months of this fiscal year. Nevertheless, our total overtime budget for FY03 is less than half of what our mandated court-overtime costs are for a typical year. So overtime was grossly underfunded in FY03, which again has forced us to find other money within Personal Services to cover these costs. The FY04 budget, by contrast, includes a realistic and reasonable amount for overtime – covering both court overtime as well as the prudent use of some discretionary overtime to support public safety. We remain committed to closely monitoring and carefully controlling our overtime costs. This budget sets a realistic target for doing so.
  • Finally, the FY04 budget funds the true costs of building our sworn strength toward the authorized level of 3,800 officers. Because this budget adequately funds both negotiated pay increases and true overtime costs, we will not be forced to cover these costs with funds intended for new hires, as we have had to do in FY03. Rather, the budget includes the funding we need to progressively build up our force through a staggered hiring schedule over the course of fiscal year 2004. I am fully aware that we have talked about getting to 3,800 officers for some time now, and I am frustrated (as I know you are) that we have not made more progress toward that goal. But past budgets have not supported both the full costs of the new hires, plus the commitments to our current employees. I am confident that this budget, as proposed, will allow us to do both.
  • The FY04 budget does not include step increases for our sworn and civilian employees. As part of the gap-closing measures for FY04, our baseline Personal Services budget was reduced to reflect these savings, as well as the decrease of 22 positions that were “de-funded” during the FY03 budget reduction process.
  • The FY04 budget will allow us to fill 37 of the civilian vacancies that currently exist in the Department. The reduction of civilian positions over the past two years and the inability to fill many vacancies have effectively halted our civilianization program – which, as you know, is designed to get more uniformed officers out on the street. The FY04 budget will, at least, allow us to fill a few of our civilian vacancies, including 16 locally funded positions in the Public Safety Communications Center.
  • Speaking of the PSCC, the FY04 budget supports staffing of 266 FTEs from all funding sources, which includes both sworn and civilian members. These staff are responsible for the full range of activities performed by our Communications Center, including call-taking, dispatching, telephone reporting, center management and critical support functions. In the area of call-taking specifically, the budget supports the staffing level of 98 recommended in a recent independent study by the Institute for Law and Justice. As you know, our call-taking staff presently includes a combination of civilian employees and sworn officers, most on limited duty. The Department is actively working this fiscal year to bring our call-taking staff up to the recommended level and to fill more of these positions with civilian professionals. We are currently recruiting for 21 civilian call-takers, including additional bilingual operators; the vacancy announcements for these positions close today, in fact. These additional positions are being funded by the District’s E9-1-1 fund, which already covers the costs of 25 other call-takers. As I mentioned, the FY04 budget will allow us to hire 16 more civilian call-takers using local funds. The long-term goal, as we move from the PSCC to the Unified Communications Center, is to civilianize all of our call-taking and dispatching functions – although in the meantime, I will continue to use limited-duty sworn members to fill in the gaps. The hiring of new civilian call-takers this year and next will move us closer to our goal.

In terms of Nonpersonal Services (or NPS), the proposed budget for FY04 is approximately $69.5 million dollars, or $6 million dollars more than the approved budget for FY03. Next year’s budget contains funds to maintain and operate critical information technology systems that we have invested in over the past few years. Our current budget for IT support is only about $2.5 million dollars a year – clearly less than what a $379 million-dollar-a-year organization needs for this critical function. The NPS budget will also cover our contribution toward a new, state-of-the-art joint training facility with the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center in Cheltenham, Maryland.

Taken as a whole, I believe that the FY04 budget will provide our Department with the resources – both personnel and support systems – that we need to meet our number one priority: reducing crime in our neighborhoods. This will be the second full year that the MPD has operated under the performance-based budgeting system. And once again, our Department has identified a number of key results measures that we will be tracking over the course of the year, and that we will be working very hard to meet – or exceed. But recognize that each of these activities and results measures is not an end, in and of itself. Each activity and results measure is part of a comprehensive and integrated approach to preventing crime and enhancing neighborhood safety throughout our city.

I believe this budget complements the revisions we are exploring for the PSA system, which remains the backbone of our “Policing for Prevention” strategy. The Council has directed our Department to conduct a comprehensive study of the PSA system. We are actively working on that study, and we will present our final report by the deadline you have established. But as I reported in our Performance hearing last month, we are envisioning some major revisions to the PSAs, particularly the PSA boundaries. For example, we know that some PSAs divide natural neighborhoods; some lump parts of different neighborhoods together. Some PSAs have strong community-based resources; many do not. Many PSAs have strong leadership at the lieutenant level; some do not. It is clearly time to revisit how we structure the PSAs, which is a key part of the study that we are preparing for the Council.

The plan currently under consideration would reduce the number of PSAs by approximately half. The objectives here are clear: to maximize our resources; to ensure stronger, more consistent leadership among PSA team leaders; to align the PSAs with other city services around already defined “neighborhood clusters,” and to better match the PSAs with natural neighborhood boundaries as a way to build stronger police-community partnerships in many areas. Under the new boundaries, staffing on individual PSAs will obviously change. However, I want to make it clear that our Department remains committed to the sworn staffing plan that has already been submitted to the Council.

The proposed budget for FY04 will help us meet those staffing goals and, more importantly, increase police presence in our neighborhoods. By adequately funding negotiated pay increases and necessary overtime costs, this budget will allow us to hire the additional officers we need to build toward our goal of 3,800 sworn members. As such, the FY04 budget will both strengthen our neighborhood crime-fighting efforts and support the other critical responsibilities we continue to face in these unique and challenging times.

I thank you again for the opportunity to read this statement into the record. My staff and I will be happy to take your questions.