The following statement was presented by Sixth District Commander Robert Contee to the District of Columbia Council Committee on Public Safety & the Judiciary, Honorable Phil Mendelson, Chair, on December 22, 2008, at the John A. Wilson Building, 1350 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Washington, DC.
Good afternoon Chairman Mendelson, members of the Committee on Public Safety and the Judiciary, and guests. My name is Robert Contee, and I am the Commander of the Sixth Police District of the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD). I am pleased to present testimony on behalf of Chief Cathy L. Lanier on MPD’s plans to close the 6th District Substation.
The Sixth District Substation is currently housed at 2701 Pennsylvania Avenue, S.E., which is controlled by the Community Foundation for the National Capital Region. In February 2008, the lease on the property was renewed for $180,000 per year for a period of 3 years with an option to vacate after 1½ years. The cost of the lease was a dramatic increase from the one dollar per year rate the District paid to occupy the property previously.
I appreciate the opportunity to discuss this topic so that we can work together to address the community concerns. We understand the concern that the closure of the substation may result in a loss of police presence in the areas serviced by the Sixth District Substation, but this action will actually place more police officers on the street, which is one of the primary motivating factors behind the decision. The substation today does not add patrol presence to the community. It provides administrative services to residents and is the location of roll call for officers assigned to Patrol Service Areas (PSAs) 605, 606 and 607. After the closure, the four officers currently assigned to the substation will be reassigned to patrol areas within the Sixth District. The 113 officers that currently report to the substation for roll call will remain assigned to the same PSAs. In addition, there are plans to institute a satellite Sixth District service office in the same neighborhood that will be open during business hours and will provide services currently provided by the substation, such as visitor parking passes. This office will be staffed by only one officer. Penn Branch is the location currently being considered for this office. Thus, there will be no loss of services to the neighborhoods serviced by the substation and there will be an increase in patrol presence.
There will be a transition period before the substation closes. The District does not plan to exercise the option to vacate the property until late 2009. This will allow time to work with the community to ensure that there is a smooth transition. We will also work with other District agencies to forecast and address any potential issues that the closing may create. It is important to remember that closing the substation will not change the accessibility the community has to police services.
In closing, I want to re-emphasize the Metropolitan Police Department’s commitment to ensuring the public safety and increasing police presence in the District’s communities. I also want to assure the Committee that we will work with the Council and the community to ensure that all of your concerns are addressed. Thank you for allowing me to testify and I am happy to answer any questions you may have at this time.