Chief Charles H. Ramsey
Metropolitan Police Department, Washington, DC
Chief Charles H. Ramsey delivered the following remarks during graduation ceremonies for Metropolitan Police Department Recruit Class 2000-6, held at the Bureau of Engraving auditorium in Southwest DC, on April 20, 2001. Twenty-seven new officers were sworn in during the event.
To the members of Recruit Class 2000-6, I say welcome to the policing profession, welcome to the MPDC, and welcome to the law enforcement family. Today's ceremony reflects our commitment to fight crime and improve the quality of life in the District of Columbia - not just by increasing the number of police officers in our agency, but also by bringing fresh ideas and new perspectives to our Department.
Your class is a diverse one. Some of you are just getting started with your careers - others have worked in other fields, and are just now getting into policing. Many of you always wanted to be a police officer - others found this calling later in your careers. Many of you were born and raised in this area - others come to us from places such as Cape Cod, Massachusetts, Newark, New Jersey, and elsewhere. But regardless of your background or the extent of your work or educational experience, each of you does bring new ideas, new perspectives and new energy to our mission - a mission to prevent crime and build safe and healthy neighborhoods.
Each of you is a valuable addition to this organization - this family - and I wish all of you great success, challenge and personal fulfillment in your career with us. This is, without a doubt, the very best job - and the very best agency - in the world for anyone who wants to make a difference as a police officer ... and I welcome you once again.
Because we are all part of the same family, we all necessarily share the same goals and objectives, and the same set of guiding principles for achieving those goals and objectives. These bedrock principles of our profession are captured - succinctly, eloquently and powerfully - in the Law Enforcement Code of Ethics.
It is not a coincidence that the Code is printed in today's program book. The Code is the dozen or so sentences - four paragraphs in all - that all of us recite at the very beginning of our law enforcement training. And then, on occasions such as this, we have the opportunity to re-affirm our commitment to the Law Enforcement Code of Ethics at various times throughout our careers. Sometimes, I think it is easy to take these words, and the ideals behind them, for granted. But today - as each of you begins your career with the Metropolitan Police Department - I think it is certainly appropriate and important for us to take a deeper look at the Code of Ethics and just what this Code means to each of us, as police officers in this city, at this time.
The Code starts off with a simple, but extremely powerful statement: "As a law enforcement officer, my fundamental duty is to serve mankind, to safeguard lives and property." That statement is crystal clear about one thing: our job - first and foremost - is to serve others. Forty years ago, President John Fitzgerald Kennedy challenged Americans to "ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country." Today - and every day of the year - police officers live out President Kennedy's famous call for serving others. Service to other people - often in unusual, stressful, or very dangerous circumstances - is the fundamental thing that we do as police officers. And this bedrock principle is captured right there in the very first line of our Code of Ethics.
So who is it that you will serve as a police officer and especially as a member of this Department? Obviously, you will serve everyone who is in need of your service ... without hesitation, prejudice or malice. As police officers, we can never pick and choose who will receive our service and who will not. And we must always strive to provide the same high-quality service to everyone. Being totally fair and free of bias is central to our profession - this can be no wavering from this ideal.
That said, the Code of Ethics does make it clear that you can expect to spend a great deal of your time serving the most vulnerable in our society. "Protecting the innocent against deception, the weak against oppression and intimidation, and the peaceful against violence or disorder." Who but these people will need your services the most?
After today, each of you will be assigned to one of our seven police districts, working in a scout car in one of DC's neighborhoods. Despite tremendous progress in reducing crime and restoring our neighborhoods, many of you will work in communities that remain challenged by crime and the fear of crime, by economic and social instability. In many of these communities you will be a beacon of light and hope - maybe one of the few such beacons that exist there. You will be someone the community can turn to and count on in times of need. And like a true beacon, you will need to be steady and constant, visible and strong. Above all, you will need to treat all people at all times with the highest level of dignity and respect. Regardless of the economic means or social standing or political power of the individuals you serve, my advice to you is simple: treat every single individual you encounter with the same compassion and respect that you would like to receive from others, and that you would like your family members and loved ones to receive. Do this, and you will never, ever go wrong.
So the Law Enforcement Code of Ethics makes it clear that our mission as police officers is to safeguard lives and property. But the Code also reminds us that there is another, equally important part to our mission - and I quote - "to respect the constitutional rights of all persons to liberty, equality and justice." As police officers, we have a unique and solemn responsibility to protect not just other peoples' material possessions. We have been given the responsibility to protect the very rights that define us as Americans - the right to assemble, to speak, to petition the government, to seek and receive justice. As individuals, we may not always agree with the persons and groups who come to this, our Nation's Capital, to speak out on the issues of the day. In some cases, we may personally detest their viewpoints. But as police officers, as defenders of the constitution, we - and we alone - have the responsibility of ensuring that the rights of others are protected. This is an awesome responsibility, but one that I know each of you is prepared to accept and to carry out.
I have covered just the first paragraph of the Code of Ethics. I do not intend to go over the entire document in detail this morning. But I hope you have a new and better appreciation for just how momentous and important this short document is. And I would encourage each and every one of our new officers - as well as the veteran members who are here today - to go back and take a fresh look at our Code of Ethics. And I would ask you to think about how you are living this Code in your daily lives - as police officers; as spouses, parents, and family members; and as members of the larger community. For if there is one other thing that the Code of Ethics is very clear about, it is that our responsibility to serve others and to be a model of honesty and integrity is not a part-time occupation that ends with our tour of duty. In the eyes of the community and in the eyes of your peers, you do not stop being a police officer - and a member of this proud Department - when we take off our uniforms.
The pride, the dignity, the honor and the integrity that are symbolized by the uniform we all wear on the job--and by the badge you will pin on in just a few minutes--are the very same ideals that we must live by when we are off-duty as well. "Honest in thought and deed in both my personal and official life, I will be exemplary in obeying the laws of the land and my department." That's what the Code of Ethics expects of you. And it is the standard I demand of each and every member of this Department.
In closing, I want to congratulate all of you again and welcome you to the MPDC. Welcome to a Department that is on the move - a Department with a strong ethic of service, a new commitment to excellence, and a strategy of community policing that is producing results. Welcome to a Department that is open to new ideas - and a Department that is eager to see these new ideas work. Welcome to a Department that takes seriously the Code of Ethics that we have all sworn to uphold - a Department that lives the Code in everything we do. And welcome to a Department that will always hold a special place as a defender of democratic rights and values - right here in the cradle of democracy, our Nation's Capital.
Thank you again ... welcome ... and may God bless each of you and your families.
|Recruit Officers Sworn-In|
|Officer Charles Anthony||Officer Aisha Z. Jackson|
|Officer Geraldine M. Bagley||Officer Crystal Jones|
|Officer William Belton III||Officer Jeffrey W. Labofish|
|Officer Douglas Birk||Officer Michael O'Harran|
|Officer Arthur E. Brown||Officer Oda Poole III|
|Officer Kevin Carey||Officer Anthony R. Pradier|
|Officer Brian Eagle||Officer Ryan Roe|
|Officer Edward P. Farris||Officer Clayton R. Smith|
|Officer Demetrius Fauntleroy||Officer John A. Stathers|
|Officer Ulises Fernandez||Officer Michael A. Topper|
|Officer Ralph K. Flanigan||Officer David Wallace|
|Officer Myron Glover||Officer Marvin M. Washington|
|Officer Keif Green||Officer Savyon I. Weinfeld|
|Officer Adrian W. Harris|