Police Chief Charles H. Ramsey on Wednesday announced a sweeping restructuring of the Metropolitan Police Department that eliminates the top-heavy system of organizational bureaus, replacing them with a more streamlined organization that puts more police resources in the community, cuts bureaucracy and holds Department managers strictly accountable for addressing crime and disorder problems in their geographic areas of responsibility.
Ramsey said his rebuilding plan will strengthen community policing by placing a wider range of police resources in the seven police districts, where they are more accessible to the community, and by focusing those resources on reducing crime and solving problems in the city’s neighborhoods. The restructuring will not alter the current boundaries of police districts or police service area (PSAs).
"This new structure represents nothing short of the wholesale transformation of the Metropolitan Police Department, from a bureaucratic, incident-driven agency to a streamlined, customer-driven service organization," Ramsey said.
The chief outlined his rebuilding plan during open meetings Wednesday with sworn and civilian members of the Police Department, held in DAR Constitution Hall, 18th and C Streets, NW.
- Eliminate bureaus. Saying that the current structure creates excessive bureaucracy and makes coordination across units cumbersome, Ramsey is eliminating the four existing bureaus (Patrol Services, Support Services, Technical Services and Human Resources). They are being replaced by a more efficient organization that promotes team work, communication and accountability.
"Under our current system, responding to a crime involves work being handed off from one bureau to another, with no one unit maintaining the big picture on what we are really trying to accomplish, which is to solve the crime," Ramsey said. "The result is a dysfunctional organization in which everybody is not on the same page. Our new structure adds important cohesion and coordination to our core functions of solving crime and addressing problems through community policing."
- Establish geographic accountability for fighting crime. The new structure organizes police districts into three Regional Operations Commands (ROCs): North (Districts 2 and 4), Central (Districts 1, 3 and 5) and East (Districts 6 and 7). Each ROC will be led by a regional assistant chief, whose office will be located in the community, not at Police Headquarters. The regional assistant chief will be accountable for managing resources and coordinating crime-fighting efforts throughout the region.
"With the elimination of the bureaus and the creation of the Regional Operations Commands, we are creating a complete system of geographic accountability for fighting crime throughout the organization," Ramsey said. "Just as the PSA managers and district commanders are being held accountable for the work within their geographic commands, so too will the regional assistant chiefs be accountable for what takes place within their regions."
- Create full-service police districts. Ramsey said the role of the seven police districts is being dramatically expanded, from a narrow focus on patrol to the full range of police services needed to solve crimes and address neighborhood problems. In addition to PSA patrol services, the districts will include violent and property crime investigations, focused mission teams, and operational support and customer service units.
"By putting violent and property crime detectives in the districts, we are eliminating the over- specialization of personnel who investigate only one type of crime, and we are better integrating our investigations into the total crime prevention and problem-solving efforts of the PSAs," the chief said.
- Streamline business operations. Administrative and technical functions are being consolidated under a new corporate support structure. Led by an assistant chief, this single structure will better coordinate the delivery of services in four key areas: human services, business services, training services and operational support services.
Ramsey said that while work on the restructuring will begin immediately, the plan will take time to implement. He anticipates the new Regional Operations Command centers to be fully operational and the full-service police districts to be in place by the end of November.
Ramsey said that rebuilding the Metropolitan Police Department not only enhances its ability to fight crime, but also advances the practice of community policing both locally and nationally. "Police departments across the country are struggling with trying to implement the philosophy of community policing using the same organizational structures we have relied upon for years. The result: our structure has become fundamentally out of sync with the way work actually gets done in our organizations, especially under community policing," he said.
"This new structure—with its emphasis on geographic accountability and customer service—puts the Metropolitan Police Department in a much stronger position to take back our city’s neighborhoods, block by block and in partnership with the community," Ramsey said.