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Proposed FY2009 Budget for the Metropolitan Police Department

Friday, April 4, 2008

Proposed FY2009 Budget for the Metropolitan Police Department

Statement from the 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, 2008, at the John A. Wilson Building, 1350 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Washington, DC.

Chairman Mendelson, 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 2009. 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 Department’s website, www.mpdc.dc.gov.

Mayor Fenty’s proposed FY09 budget demonstrates the Administration’s continued commitment to stronger, safer neighborhoods throughout the city. We are making great strides this year.  We have an 18 percent reduction in homicides and 4 percent reduction in overall violent crime so far this year. We also have a 19 percent reduction in response time, despite a 21 percent increase in calls for service.   The Mayor’s proposed budget continues the investment in the Department that is helping us to make this progress.

Briefly, the budget will enable MPD to reach 4,200 sworn members by September 2009.  It will enable us to put even more officers in operational assignments by providing full-year funding for our civilianization program, and increased investment in civilian evidence technicians. The budget also supports our critical ongoing needs in the areas of equipment, supplies, fleet, and training. The Mayor’s proposed budget supports the Department’s mission of safeguarding the District of Columbia and protecting its residents and visitors by providing the highest quality of police service with integrity, compassion, and a commitment to innovation that integrates people, technology, and progressive business systems.

The Department’s proposed operating budget for FY09 is approximately $504 million dollars from all funding sources, which would support 4,950 full-time equivalents, or FTEs. Of the $504 million, almost $485 million dollars, or 96 percent, is locally funded. Eighty-one percent of the budget is devoted to personal services – that is, salaries and benefits for our sworn and civilian employees. The remaining 19 percent of the budget is dedicated to nonpersonal services, such as standard police equipment, training materials, contracts, and fixed costs. Overall, the budget includes a 1.2 percent increase over the FY2008 budget.  The proposed personal services budget represents an increase of 2.7 percent, whereas the nonpersonal services budget would decrease by 4.7 percent. 

The proposed budget represents the final stage of the expansion of the Department launched in FY 2007. It will ensure full-year funding for the new officers hired in FY08, and will enable the Department to reach our target of 4,200 sworn members by the end of FY09.  As of this week, we have 3,953 members on the force, or 135 more than this time last year.  Of course, any new officers must be fully trained and equipped to ensure that they are prepared to meet the challenges of this position. Not only does the budget fully support hiring the new officers, it will enable MPD to deploy well-trained officers who are equipped with critical safety equipment. The budget also funds the recruiting and marketing which are essential to increasing the size of the force in today’s competitive job market. 

In addition to supporting an aggressive hiring effort for sworn members, the FY09 budget will enable MPD to put even more of our current complement of officers out on the street – in operational assignments in our neighborhoods. MPD’s current civilianization program began at the end of FY05, when we began hiring civilians for administrative and support positions that had been held by sworn police officers. The civilianization program is continuing in FY08 with staggered hiring for about 80 positions. The FY09 budget includes full-year funding for these civilian employees, as well as funding to hire 12 evidence technicians.  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 the Department skilled employees in specialty areas.  The civilian evidence technicians are especially critical to building the professional staff for the Consolidated Forensic Laboratory, scheduled to begin construction in 2009.

After funding for higher staffing levels, the second most important area of budget expansion is for technology.  The capital budget includes $1.25 million for continued progress on two significant projects central to my vision for an effective and efficient police department: automated field reporting and a records management system.  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. This will help MPD to more effectively deploy resources and manage investigations, and the criminal justice system overall to hold offenders accountable. The Department has made important progress on each of these projects.  So far we have deployed over 350 laptops to patrol officers and key specialized units. We also recently rolled out an automated report form for vehicle crashes that will help the city to analyze crash data more quickly and target efforts to improve traffic safety.  We will not be able to continue this progress without the capital funding contained in the Mayor’s proposed budget.

The proposed budget also includes $800,000 to digitize important police records.  MPD is required to maintain arrest records for 70 years.  Even as we move forward on automated field reporting, there is a critical need to digitally capture hundreds of thousands of police reports that are now available only in paper versions. We receive about 10,000 requests every year to review, seal, or expunge arrest records.  Right now, records from before 1984 are all stored on microfiche.  But this process is expensive and still requires a great deal of physical space to store.  More importantly, indexing and searching microfiche is a time-consuming task. By digitally capturing arrest records from previous years, MPD can more efficiently search for records and provide a faster response to customers. 

The proposed capital budget also would invest $2.5 million in expanding the city’s network of CCTV cameras and gunshot location technology.  As you know, both of these initiatives help MPD to combat crime, especially that which occurs on the streets and other public spaces.  As our recently released report details, the CCTV cameras are helping MPD to prevent, deter, and investigate crime. Violent crime has dropped sharply around CCTV cameras.  Within 250 feet of the cameras, there was a 19 percent reduction in violent crime. Even out to 1,000 feet—more than three football fields away from the camera locations—violent crime dropped by 4 percent.  We have also seen a 30 percent reduction in calls for service for drug activity around the cameras.  The cameras have captured valuable information in 144 crimes, including ten homicides.  The gunshot location technology, commonly referred to by its proprietary name, ShotSpotter, helps MPD to more quickly respond to sounds of gunshots by acoustically detecting and triangulating gunshots to within feet of the incident. A rapid response to the scene can save lives by supporting quick detection and location of victims. The rapid response also supports criminal investigations by enabling MPD to respond while offenders and witnesses are still on the scene.  With the FY 09 proposed budget, not only will MPD be able to install additional CCTV cameras, but the cameras will be linked to the ShotSpotter system. Once the CCTV cameras and ShotSpotter are integrated, the camera’s pan/tilt/zoom capabilities can be activated to turn towards the direction of shots fired, increasing the effectiveness of both systems.

While these new investments are exciting, maintaining service for critical technology is just as important. Technology improvements become meaningless if they are not maintained. The Mayor’s proposed FY09 budget, therefore, provides: 

  • $1.3 million in operating funds for the contractual technical support for the Command Information Center, or CIC.  The CIC, formerly known as the Synchronized Operations Command Center—or the SOCC—is the nerve center for MPD operations. Effective law enforcement requires timely information, and information flows to and from CIC and members in the field 24-hours a day. This contract also support the maintenance of the CCTV camera system. 
  • $1 million for “ServUs.” ServUs is a program of the Office of the Chief Technology Officer to provide customer service and technical support for the city’s computers 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
  • $932,000 to provide maintenance for critical information technology systems, including systems that enable officers to search local and national databases for outstanding warrants or stolen property, and that support the digital recording of interviews with suspects.  These technology systems help MPD to operate more efficiently and to comply with local and federal mandates.

So what would the proposed FY09 budget mean for the city? The proposed budget will help me put in place my vision of a Department that can fulfill our mission of safeguarding the District: a Department that is well staffed, well trained, well equipped, and responsive to the needs of the community. The Mayor’s proposed investments in staffing and technology will be money well spent that will help the District to become 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, despite rising salaries, we are able to project a stabilization of overtime costs because of my efforts to reduce overtime hours. In the first five months of FY08, locally-funded overtime hours have decreased 14 percent. This includes a 1 percent reduction in court overtime hours – as arrests have remained steady, and a 22 percent reduction in discretionary overtime hours. I am very encouraged that by holding managers accountable for discretionary overtime, we are able to reduce the seemingly incidental overtime hours that really add up. That said, overtime remains an important law enforcement tool for quickly responding to emerging or critical situations, and I will not hesitate to use it if public safety demands it. 

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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 for the District’s Consolidated Forensic Lab. The Metropolitan Police Department oversees this Program, a “paper agency” charged with coordinating specialized training and resources for the personnel who 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.  While the city funds the payroll for the personnel, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has been training DNA and Trace Evidence Technicians at their facility in Quantico, Virginia since 2005 for free.

The Program’s proposed operating budget for FY08 is $6.7 million dollars. The local funding would be maintained at the same level as in FY08.  The federal payment of $5 million represents a $1 million increase over the FY08 payment.  These funds as proposed in the President’s FY 2009 budget are intended for the reimbursement to the Federal Bureau of Investigation for additional laboratory services provided to the District. 

The program funds 20 DNA and trace evidence technicians.  Currently, 15 of the 20 positions are filled, with these staff either working on DC cases or in training.  We still are experiencing some staff turnover in these positions, but are currently moving forward with a reclassification of job grades to help eliminate the pay disparity between forensic scientists we employ and the federal scientists in this area.  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 remaining vacancies. 

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In closing, I would like to affirm that MPD’s FY09 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.  It also makes important investments in technology and technology maintenance to ensure that our officers can operate efficiently and effectively.  In short, the proposed budget provides the resources – both personnel and support systems – that are needed to combat crime 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. At this time, my staff and I will be happy to address your questions.