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Public Hearing on Confirmation Resolution 2007 PR 17-0009 Regarding the Appointment of Cathy L. Lanier as Chief of the Metropolitan Police Department

Friday, March 16, 2007

Public Hearing on Confirmation Resolution 2007 PR 17-0009 Regarding the Appointment of Cathy L. Lanier as Chief of the Metropolitan Police Department

Acting Chief of Police Cathy Lanier answered questions from members of DC Council after completing her testimony on Friday afternoon.

Cathy L. Lanier
Acting Chief of Police
Metropolitan Police Department

The following statement was presented by Acting Chief of Police Cathy L. Lanier to the District of Columbia Council, Committee on the Judiciary, Honorable Phil Mendelson, Chair, on March 16, 2007, at the John A. Wilson Building, Room 500, 1350 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Washington, DC.

Chairperson Mendelson, members of the Council, staff and especially members of the community - my name is Cathy Lanier, and it is a privilege to appear before you today to ask for your consideration of my appointment as Chief of Police of the Metropolitan Police Department.  I note that the full text of my statement is posted on the Department’s website: www.mpdc.dc.gov.

I am grateful for the opportunity to lead the MPD.  It is a great honor to be nominated as Chief of Police, and a significant responsibility that I take very seriously.  I believe that we have an exceptional police department filled with talented people, and I am excited about the prospect of working with them – and everyone in our city -- as we collaborate to make the District of Columbia the safest city in America.

Before I begin, I would like to acknowledge and thank Chief Charles Ramsey, who left the Metropolitan Police Department in December 2006, after serving the city for more than eight years.  The Metropolitan Police Department enjoyed several successes under Chief Ramsey, and I can tell you from personal experience that he worked diligently to improve the quality of life in District. 

I am excited about the future of the department and our City.  I know that by using the principles of collaboration, innovation, and commitment, I can lead the MPD and help the community, Mayor Fenty, the Council, and all of our partners to make the District of Columbia a model city.  In the near future, I foresee a well staffed, well trained, and well equipped police department that is 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.   

This will involve tailoring best-practice community policing to the unique needs of each specific neighborhood through Customized Community Policing.  It will require strong motivated leadership that raises morale and fosters a sense of commitment and pride as professionalism is improved at all levels.  It will be perceived by the public as trustworthy and professional, and we will be respected and admired for our innovation and success. 

I am confident that I possess the knowledge, experience, and abilities to make this vision a reality.

I began my career with the Metropolitan Police Department in 1990.  During the past 17 years, I have spent the majority of my career as a uniformed officer patrolling our neighborhoods.  Working in the field has brought me significant personal and career satisfaction, and has allowed me to learn a great deal about patrol operations, management of patrol units, and what it takes to lead police officers.  I consider my experience in patrol as a significant strength that will be extremely beneficial to me as Chief of Police.  This extensive patrol perspective--combined with my experience in managing criminal investigations, developing strategic plans, and addressing complex issues--all serve to provide me with the skills to successfully serve as your Chief --and move the department forward.

Make no mistake - the Metropolitan Police Department - your police department - is filled with talented, hard working police officers and civilian staff.  These men and women are focused on their work and dedicated to their mission. 
I intend to tap into this dedication in order create a comprehensive approach to crime fighting that allows us to prevent crime and reduce the amount of time we spend reacting to crime.  I assure you, you will see more police in your neighborhoods, working smarter, and focusing on your priorities.

I think it is important for me to share with you how my vision for the Department was created.

I traveled to communities around the city and listened to what they wanted from their police department.  What I overwhelmingly heard was that the community’s vision was to have competent, committed, and accessible police officers that treat every member of the community with respect and dignity.

I interacted with hundreds of police officers on the front lines who carry out our mission everyday, and found out what they wanted from their police department.  What I overwhelmingly heard from them was the desire to work in a police department that has the very best tools and technology that will help them make neighborhoods safer and reduce people’s fear of crime.

Importantly, I interacted with you--the City Council--and listened to what you wanted from your police department.  What I overwhelmingly heard was that your vision--as the political leaders of the Nation’s Capital—was to have the best police department in this Country, one that cannot be criticized for poor management, run-down facilities, or a reputation of being mediocre. 

My vision is consistent with everyone in this room, everyone in this community and every proud police officer that chose this noble profession. 

One of my key priorities is to improve the Department’s effectiveness in reducing crime and the fear of crime in the District of Columbia.  People must feel safe living in their homes, walking in their neighborhoods, working at their place of business, and playing in parks. This perception of safety will come from seeing the police doing their job and noticing the changes in their community.

By taking a more strategic approach to crime prevention and crime fighting, I feel we can make an even greater impact on the reduction of crime and the fear of crime.  To accomplish this, I plan to use an analytical approach, to include crime prediction modeling, and strategic deployments of our officers and resources.  This approach will help facilitate early adjustments to staff and resource deployment in order to address emerging trends.  To support this, I am restructuring our crime briefings to reflect this strategic crime fighting approach and demanding increased accountability at all levels of the organization.

I feel strongly that every member of the Department –sworn and civilian— must be committed to reducing crime and providing quality police service.  This accountability must flow throughout the Department, so that members at all levels of the agency understand their responsibility.  This means that responsibility and accountability for crime reduction and excellent service is pushed down and shared among everyone—including patrol officers, first line supervisors, managers, civilians, and executives.

It is a holistic approach that provides police service based on the needs and desires of individual communities.  This means developing strategies that are based on public input and analysis of multi-year historical crime trends.  But it goes further, incorporating topics unique to individual communities such as population density, demographic trends, projected economic development, physical infrastructure, types of businesses, area transportation studies, and victim analysis. Essentially, through the reengineering of our strategic crime briefings we will develop strategies built upon the predication of criminal activity--rather than just the response to criminal activity.

When crime does occur, good investigative work and the ability to close cases are also critical to bringing closure to victims and their families, as well as to prevent future crimes.
The willingness of witnesses and others to share information with the police will be key to our success. 

Strengthening the community’s trust in the police will go a long way toward gathering evidence needed to close more cases.  The Customized Community Policing concept that I endorse is conducive to this approach. 

Another factor in creating higher closure rates is improving the Department’s ability to conduct preliminary investigations. The first officers on the scene of a crime must master the basics of incident response.  This involves properly securing crime scenes, locating witnesses, identifying evidence, and accurate report documentation. Equipping patrol officers and detectives with the proper training and technology will enhance their ability to gather information and apprehend criminals. 

In addition, efficient case management by investigative supervisors will allow for more effective tracking and documentation of individual case progress and follow-up that will contribute to higher closure rates.  A comprehensive record management system that connects the preliminary investigation with follow-up investigations and forensic evidence will go a long way in improving our ability to more effectively manage investigations.

I also believe that more efficiently deploying detectives can influence closure rates.  Recently, I instituted community based homicide investigations, and restructured how homicide detectives are assigned and deployed in the field.  By assigning homicide investigations to regional teams, detectives will be able to become more familiar with the criminals, witnesses, and sources that live and work in neighborhoods plagued by homicides and other violent crimes.

Another important component of our strategy will involve a strong focus on youth.
We are all conscious that youth violence is on the rise here in D.C. and across the country.  I know the vast majority of young people are one their way to becoming productive citizens.  As Chief Ramsey often said, a child does not just wake up and decide to become a robber or a murderer.  They make their way down that path and at many junctures adults could have made a difference. 

But preventing youth violence can not be achieved by the police alone. Cities such as Boston, New Haven, Philadelphia, and San Jose are seeing police Departments taking the lead in creating collaborative partnerships that are taking a more holistic approach to reducing youth violence and keeping youth safe.  Recently, Mayor Fenty announced the Safe Schools initiative, which involves the collaboration of District agencies and community organizations.  MPD will also be launching a youth violence reduction program that involves police officers, attorneys, physicians, and other community stakeholders.  Lastly, I am committed to tasking my command staff with developing innovative summer youth initiatives, in collaboration with other government and non-government organizations, designed to provide safe and supervised recreational outlets for our youth.

We also need to address performance and professionalism.  If we are to continue to build on the fine work that is being done here, we must strive to increase our department’s performance and professionalism.  In no way, do I mean to say that we are failing in either these areas.  We are not.  But, the level of performance and professionalism is what distinguishes great police departments from good police departments. 

We can all identify professional traits and practices that distinguish a great police department from the rest – one that hires only the best and most qualified people; provides superior training to engaged, energetic and well groomed officers; effectively deploys personnel and material resources; and--importantly--ensures an agency culture where misconduct and lack of personal initiative is not tolerated. 

This agency is filled with people who can--and do--conduct themselves in this manner.  We simply need to provide an environment where all of our police officers and officials see performance and professionalism as part of their basic work ethic.

Nothing impacts a police officer’s performance more positively than sound leadership, input in the departments operations, and pride in the organization.  I spoke earlier about how I intend to engage and include the officers in the development of patrol strategies, and the value of solid well developed police officers. 

While the items and issues previously discussed are of great importance, nothing drives police officers to perform well more than personal pride --pride in themselves, pride in their profession, and pride in their police department. 

Pride is the single most important aspect of professionalism and personal performance.  There is no greater motivator than personal pride.  I am convinced that the better work environment I can create, and the more professional opportunities I can provide, the more proud and professional our police officers will be.

As I said earlier, there is still much left to do.  Still today, even after all we have accomplished as an agency, communities continue to cry out for more and better police service.  All residents want to see increased police visibility.

Violence still robs residents of the use of their neighborhoods.  Crime and the fear of crime lock residents in their homes, afraid to venture out at night - and some - even in the light of day.  Open air drug markets still ruin the quality of life for some residents who, day after day, face those who would poison their children and grandchildren. 
Enough is enough!

As Chief of Police, this is where my focus will be.  Crime, the fear of crime, and safer neighborhoods and schools will be my top priority. 

It is difficult for me to put into words how thankful I am for the opportunities I have been given by the police department.  My career in law enforcement is a source of great personal pride.  And to be part of this particular police department is especially rewarding.  There is no other agency in law enforcement quite like the Metropolitan Police Department. 

And, if confirmed, it will be my honor to serve as your next Chief of Police.