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Proposed FY2008 Budget for the Metropolitan Police Department

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Proposed FY2008 Budget for the Metropolitan Police Department

The proposed budget will help the MPDC build upon the impressive gains made in recent years and make residents of and visitors to our city feel even safer.

Cathy L. Lanier
Chief of Police
Metropolitan Police Department

The following statement was presented by Chief of Police Cathy L. Lanier to the District of Columbia Council, Committee on Public Safety & the Judiciary, Honorable Phil Mendelson, Chair, on April 4, 2007, at the John A. Wilson Building, 1350 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Washington, DC.

Chairman Mendelson, other members of the Council, staff and guests … I appreciate the opportunity to present this statement outlining the Metropolitan Police Department’s proposed budget for fiscal year 2008. Other members of the Department are with me to assist in responding to your questions. The text of my prepared testimony is posted on the Police Department’s website, www.mpdc.dc.gov.

Mayor Fenty’s proposed FY08 budget will help the Department enhance public safety in the neighborhoods of the District of Columbia. Briefly, the budget provides full-year funding for 100 new officers who will be hired this fiscal year, and funds our two year hiring plan to add 300 new officers in FY08 and FY09. It will also enable us to put even more officers in operational assignments through continued funding of our civilianization program. The Mayor’s budget provides full-year funding for 42 civilians to be hired this year, and funds 82 additional civilian positions in FY08. The budget also supports our critical ongoing needs in the areas of equipment, supplies, fleet, and training. In short, at a time when crime in the District of Columbia is at historically low levels, this budget will allow us to build upon the impressive gains we have made and make residents of and visitors to our city feel even safer.

The Department’s proposed operating budget for FY08 is approximately $500 million dollars from all funding sources. This represents an increase of $64 million dollars from the Department’s FY07 budget, though an increase of only $36 million over the Department’s actual expenditures for FY06. Of the $500 million, almost $470 million dollars, or 94 percent, is locally funded. Of our locally funded budget, roughly 84 percent is devoted to personnel services – that is, salaries and benefits for our sworn and civilian employees.

While the proposed increase in our FY08 budget may seem large, it is important to examine the increase in the proper context. The increase is almost entirely due to increased staffing or routine personnel cost increases. In fact, excluding fixed costs, the FY08 budget for non-personal services is actually $5 million lower than in FY07. The budget includes almost $40 million – more than 60 percent of the increase in the gross budget – in annual step increases and pay raises for those employees we already have on board. And as I mentioned earlier, it includes full year funding for employees being hired in FY07 that the Council authorized last year. This includes 100 new officers to patrol our streets, and 42 new civilianization positions. As you know, civilianization allows us to hire civilian staff for some support and technical positions currently held by sworn members, thus allowing those sworn members to be reassigned to operations.

The budget also includes full-year funding for 30 positions in the cadet program, an important opportunity for youth in DC. Police cadets are recent high school graduates who are employed by the Department in civilian positions. Working about 20 hours a week, the cadets rotate through a variety of assignments – helping the MPD fulfill our mission, while providing the cadets with valuable exposure and experience within the Department. In addition to paying the cadets for their work, the MPD covers their tuition at the University of the District of Columbia. Cadets convert to career police status upon completion of their Associate Degree program and enter recruit training to become a sworn officer. Expanding the Cadet Program will increase the pool of talented recruit officers from DC who are available to our agency in the coming years, so it is an important investment in the Department’s future. Expansion will also mean that even more District youth will benefit from access to employment opportunities, secondary education and a career in public service. This is truly a win-win opportunity.

The budget also funds important new positions to continue efforts to increase the number of officers  on the force. The budget fully funds the hiring plan for the 300 officers that the Council initiated last year in the Budget Support Act. The FY08 budget would support recruiting, hiring, training, and equipping as many officers as possible to move us toward the goal of 300 new officers. The FY07 budget and the proposed FY08 budget fund critical investments in recruiting and marketing, which, based on the experience of other Departments that have used similar techniques—such as Los Angeles and Prince Georges County, we believe will pay off with an increase in applicants. 

Equally important, the FY08 budget invests in our hiring and training capacity, enabling the Department to process, hire, and train more people at one time. If approved, we would be able to accomplish this through simple steps such as holding recruit tests more frequently and in more locations, enhancing our medical contract so more applicants can be medically screened, and holding training classes during more than one shift per day. While these steps are simple, they are all dependent on the higher funding levels provided in the FY08 budget. All together, this hiring plan would increase MPD’s strength to 4,200 sworn members by October 2009. Let me assure you that as the Department works to achieve this goal, we will not lower our high hiring standards.

In addition to supporting hiring more officers, the FY08 budget will enable us to put even more of those officers out on the street – in operational assignments in our neighborhoods. Our current civilianization program began at the end of FY05, when we began hiring civilians for just over 80 administrative and support positions that had been held by sworn police officers. The civilianization program is continuing with 42 positions in FY07, and a proposed 82 positions in FY08.

In addition to relieving sworn members of various tasks and responsibilities that could be handled by non-sworn personnel, our civilianization initiative serves another important purpose: it brings into our Department skilled employees in such specialty areas as training instructors and crime scene technicians. These employees are bringing new ideas and fresh perspectives to our agency and its work. The FY08 budget will allow us to continue this ambitious civilianization effort.

After funding for higher staffing levels, the second largest category of cost increases is to maintain service for critical technology. The $1.5 million dollar “ServUs” enhancement will provide customer service and technical support for our computers 24 hours a day, seven days a week. As you know, enhancing our efficiency and effectiveness through automated field reporting and a comprehensive records management system is central to my long term plans for MPD. Increasing reporting in the field will help to maximize the time that officers are available on the street. A new records management system will connect preliminary information from crime scenes with follow-up investigations and forensic evidence, which will help MPD to more effectively manage investigations, and the criminal justice system to hold offenders accountable. As I work to accomplish these goals, it is critically important to fund ServUs so that we can keep basic processes running to support this effort.

The budget also provides $1.3 million in local funds for technical support for the Synchronized Operations Command Center—or the SOCC, a technology contract which used to be funded by Federal grants. The SOCC is the nerve center for MPD operations – it is imperative that we maintain it with a permanent funding source. Effective law enforcement requires timely information, and information flows to and from the SOCC and members in the field 24 hours a day. The SOCC also maintains DC’s CCTV cameras, supporting crime fighting efforts in the neighborhoods and public safety needs during significant events or large demonstrations.

So what would the proposed FY08 budget mean for the city? As I said at my confirmation hearing almost three weeks ago, my priority is to reduce crime and the fear of crime, and to help create and sustain safer neighborhoods and schools. The proposed budget will help me put in place my vision of a Department that can achieve those goals: a Department that is well staffed, well trained, well equipped, and is, above all, responsive to the needs of the community. It will be a department that consists of competent, accessible, and committed police officers who are engaged and empowered. I believe that the investments in additional staffing and technology maintenance will be money well spent that will help transition DC into being one of the world’s safest big cities.

I also believe that the budget is fiscally responsible. As you know, I am committed to fostering innovation that enhances fiscal accountability and improves efficiency. I think this budget reflects that goal. For instance, while the overtime budget shows a modest increase over the FY07 budget,  it is not one that keeps pace with salary increases. We are able to project slower growth in overtime costs because of my efforts to reduce court overtime. In the short term, I expect to see modest reductions as a result of the cascading papering times that I established in February. These designated times will reduce the back-log for officer check-in during peak hours. In the long term, I hope to drastically reduce locally funded overtime by working with the U.S. Attorney’s Office, the D.C. Attorney General’s Office, and D.C. Superior Court to institute papering reform. Resolving the obstacles that have been long-associated with DC’s inefficient papering process will also ensure that after making an arrest, officers are able to get back on the streets faster.

I would like to also address the proposed budget for the Forensic Laboratory Technician Training Program, a separate budget dedicated to getting the Department ready to operate its own forensic lab. The Metropolitan Police Department oversees this Program, a “paper agency” charged with coordinating specialized training and resources for the personnel that will eventually staff the city’s Forensic Lab.  The funds for this program are kept apart from MPD funds, however general management and oversight falls under MPD. The program funds 10 technicians who are currently either working on DC cases or training at the FBI’s laboratory at Quantico. 

The Program’s proposed operating budget for FY08 is $1.7 million dollars. This represents an increase of approximately $465,000. The majority of the increase—approximately $390,000—reflects increases in personal services to provide standard raises and step increases, and full-year funding for 10 employees being hired in FY 2007. Ten new employees will be hired this year, so FY08 represents the first year in which their full personnel costs are budgeted.

In addition, approximately $81,000 is included to make District salaries in this field more competitive so the District can hold on to these highly trained and specialized employees. Employee turnover has been a significant challenge for the program. Over the past two years, seven of ten employees have resigned from the program. Training and non-competitive salaries have played a role in this turnover. Extensive FBI background investigations have also caused delays in launching training, so that employees have not been used to their full potential as they wait for this process to be completed. The Department is working closely with the FBI laboratory to improve this process and in recent months has made progress in this area. However, the salaries offered under the District pay scales, at certain stages, are still lower than those offered by the FBI. As you can imagine, working side-by-side at Quantico with people performing similar work but at a higher pay scale has been a significant morale issue. The Administration is working to make adjustments in salaries to ensure the District is competitive. This modest increase is reflected in the FY08 budget.

We project that the proposed changes in salaries will have a positive impact both on the city’s ability to retain staff and to attract qualified candidates for the 10 employees to be hired in FY07. The job postings for four DNA positions and four Evidence Control positions have recently closed and interviews with the candidates will begin in April 2007. Vacancy announcement for the remaining positions—an Evidence Control Unit Manager and a Quality Assurance Manager—will be posted in late spring or early summer.

In closing, I would like to affirm that MPD’s FY08 budget, as proposed, funds what residents and the Council have clearly indicated is their top public safety priority for DC: increasing the number of police officers. In short, the proposed budget provides the resources – both personnel and support systems – that are needed to reduce crime even further and to promote a greater sense of safety and security in DC neighborhoods.

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