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Force Investigation Team - Annual Report - 2001

Monday, August 6, 2001

A Letter from Assistant Chief Kim Dine

Maintaining integrity in law enforcement organizations is a dynamic process-one through which law enforcement agencies address, combat, and prevent misconduct and improve performance. Many things play significant roles in this process: effective leadership; police management, administration and policy; recruitment, selection and training of officers; organizational values, the quality of investigations; the disciplinary process, and societal expectations.

The Office of Professional Responsibility plays a major role as the guardian of the reputation and integrity of the Metropolitan Police Department. Through its Force Investigation Team, Office of Internal Affairs, Equal Employment Opportunity Compliance Office, Office of Citizen Complaint Review Board Liaison, and the Disciplinary Review Division, the Office of Professional Responsibility ensures that the Metropolitan Police Department maintains the public trust by ensuring professional investigation and adjudication of allegations of misconduct, uses of force, equal employment opportunity complaints, and other matters.

Police officers are the most overt symbol of the criminal justice system. We represent a legitimate source of restraint in a free society. In a sense, police integrity is the window through which the public assesses the rectitude of all governmental actions. One kind of unjust action is the failure of those in the criminal justice system to apply the appropriate rule or law or to interpret it correctly. This includes not only gross violations, such as bribery or corruption, but also more subtle distortions of prejudice, bias, and fraud and abuse. This also includes how officers enforce the law and treat people, to include our use of force. What is equally or perhaps even more critical than the initial police action, then, is the assurance that whatever action took place or is alleged to have taken place will be properly investigated and addressed.

When discussing issues of police misconduct, concepts of liberty, justice and authority are critical because they go to the heart of the public trust and the essence of law enforcement. Our authority rests in our ability to exercise power essentially loaned to us by the community. We maintain that public trust by not violating it, and when it is violated, by ensuring that it is properly investigated and adjudicated. Consequently, the effectiveness of any police agency is greatly dependant on its internal integrity and external reputation in the community. Quality investigations into uses of force and complaints of misconduct are necessary to protect the public as well as the reputation of the department and the integrity of the individual officer.

The investigations into the use of force conducted by the Office of Professional Responsibility's Force Investigation Team exemplify the commitment of the Metropolitan Police Department to conduct fair and impartial investigations into serious use of force incidents. In each instance, these investigations constitute the highest example of professionalism. The organizational concepts and investigative tactics employed by this agency have set the standard for the entire country. The work done by the Force Investigation Team, as indicated in this annual report, epitomizes what community policing truly means: we meet our obligation to maintain the public trust by conducting professional investigations and making the findings of these investigations public.

Our commitment to justice and to the public serves as our eternal beacons of light. Each case is thoroughly investigated and facts are presented to the Office of the United States Attorney. Statistics are maintained, correlated and analyzed, resulting in the creation of this annual report. The outstanding work done by the Office of Professional Responsibility's Force Investigation Team is a credit to the Metropolitan Police Department and the citizens of the District of Columbia, as well as to the most honorable profession in America - the profession of policing.