Determining the extent of the difficulties within DC's police department was one of the early tasks for the Control Board that essentially ran DC for serveral years in the late '90s. NARPAC, reviewed and summarized this consultant's benchmark report early on. And one of the early tasks of DC's new police chief, as the Control Board faded away, was to make significant organizational changes to his "dysfunctional police force ".
Analysis of police effectiveness was also clouded by a very steep downturn in crime nationwide--and in the District as well--for a variety of reasons (largely economic) which have nothing to do with changes in the Police Department here or elsewhere. Nevertheless, crime comparisons between DC and other cities, and between DC and its suburbs are informative. Charts of 7-year trends within DC (by police district) showed improvements across the board, and those improvements have been sustained.
However, it is a worrisome fact that although the extraordinarily high DC homicide rates declined during the decade of the '90s, about half of them are never solved!
Although there appears to have been a significant drop in crime levels during the middle '90s, the rates for the last few years of the 20th Centry appeared to leveled off, and those level rates continued through '03, but declined again by 2005.
Violent crimes in DC remain a serious problem, despite an unusual number of law enforcement officials, and the age and race of DC's homicide victims suggest an unfortunate "war between the drop-outs".
And national statistics on arrests and people "in the system" suggest that the problem is getting worse and DC is far worse than Maryland.
From early-gathered NARPAC data, the Courts and Corrections system seemed overly large, and DC was performing many state-level functions (i.e., prisons, Court of Appeals and Public Defender's Office). DC's expenditures on correctional facilities is well over ten times as high per capita as spent by a typical cross-section of US cities. The inmates in the jails and prison are disproportionately numerous on a per capita basis--more than four times the average of the 20 states analysed. Many of these functions have now been transferred back to federal funding and control.
When the Control Board's authorities were broadened to include most of the city's operational departments, additional consultants' reports were produced on Fire and Emergency Medical Services, DCFEMS, and the Department of Corrections (including the Youth Services Administration), DOC/YSA, and they were also summarized by NARPAC.
Safety and Justice consumed a rather remarkable 26.1% of funds and 37.5% of city personnel in 1995, but is considerably less in the early '00s. The courts, corrections, and parole system consumed 42% of those dollars and 45% of those city personnel. While Maryland and Virginia mirrored the national averages, The DC had over twice as many policemen per thousand urban residents as the selected inner city average (9.0 v 4.3), and about 75% more per thousand crimes (76 v 44). Anecdotes of inappropriate police use and conduct abound, and contribute to the loss of pride in the professionalism of our nation's capital government. The overstaffing problem was reconfirmed in 2002, using Census 2000 data for 40 large American cities.
Improving safety and justice in DC has been a slow and arduous task, though it is doubtless be aided by the presence of competent US Attorneys. It should also be aided by the adoption of new sentencing guidelines consistent with federal practice. Nevertheless there are still problems in the management of the DC Courts, and in the parole system. Court problems are also magnified by the growing threats of "jury nullification", openly advocated by some DC activists.
By early 2004, it became clear that the re-organization of the prior three years was not producing the results hoped for, and a new division of police service areas (PSAs) and "field forces" is now under consideration.
Substantial federal assistance continues to be provided in many areas by other federal law enforcement agencies, pressed into service to compensate for problems and shortfalls in DC capabilities. It would be a mistake to assume that the District necessarily "gives more than it gets" relative to the federal agencies it hosts.
A list of NARPAC, Inc.'s suggestions for long range solutionsto DC's manifold difficulties in these areas in included, updated in Jan 2002.
COMPARATIVE CRIME RATES This material, while still useful, is now quite dated and is kept available for historical purposes.
This item has been 'archived'
According to the Metropolitan Police Department's own statistics, the encouraging decline in crime from the early '90s appears to have leveled off. A two-year leveling off of the Stanford-9 scores in the DC School System has brought headlines and editorial clucking. There has been no equivalent public notice of equivalent stagnation here.
Since 1993, major crimes have declined by a factor of two, (upper left chart below-- heavy green is average of all eight wards) and theft and arson is down by about one- third (lower left) . All categories of serious crimes (right hand charts) have declined and leveled off--with the exception of sexual assault which is above its 1998 nadir.
Triggered by a spate of killings in the heat of summer, 2006, DC took emergency measures to keep DC teenagers off the street after 10:00PM and to "increase cops on the street" (for the nth time). A Council bill to add another 300 officers to DC's already bloated force was (mercifully) shelved. The curfew resulted in the arrest of many kids, and some reduction in crime. It also brought repeated calls for the resignation of DC's lack-luster police Chief Ramsey. There is little question that the force operates with very low efficiency and/or effectiveness, but it is by no means clear that an ideal, perfectly-performing police department can stop kids from mauling and killing other kids. Ramsey in his own defense noted that crimes, primarily in DC's poorer neighborhoods, could better be reduced by making parents more responsible, and lengthening the school year (!). NARPAC agrees with the chief, and only wishes he could speak up with a louder and more commanding voice, and that he could take the measures needed to improve the image of his 4500-odd force, and thus the authority of his own statements.
city crime trends 1993-2005
NARPPAC has not updated its crime trends since 2000 data became available, and concluded at that time ( see above ) that the noticeable decline in city crime was "leveling off". In fact, after plateauing for a couple of years the trend has continued down. It should be noted that crime across the United States peaked in the early nineties and has been declining ever since. DC has generally followed that trend, and the percent reductions on the following charts are from near-peak levels in 1993.
The three charts to the right show the trends in major crimes over the past 13 years, dropping a total of about 49% from some 68,000 property and violent crimes to about 35,000. This amounts to a 47% drop in property crimes, and 54% in the more troublesome crimes of violence, broken out separately in the lower two charts.
crime trends by police district cluster 1993-2005
In the charts below, NARPAC looks at crime trends by three bands encompassing the seven police districts (left diagram). Cluster "24" is comprised essentially of the "northern suburbs" covered by PD's 2, and 4. Cluster "351" equates roughly to an expanded "downtown area", and Cluster "67" includes all of Wards 7 and 8, across the Anacostia River. The drop in violent crimes in the northern resident areas amounts to 71%, in property crimes 69%. The downtown cluster has dropped 47% in violent crimes and 35% in property crimes. East of the Anacostia, crime is off 54% and 37% respectively.
good news: comparing DC crimes to other US cities 1993-2005
The next chart compares DC crime statistics with those of other US cities of greater than half a million in population. These data are shown per 100,000 inhabitants, and it is clear that DC has been improving relative to the American urban norm. As indicated, violent crime is down 54% in DC compared to 37% across US cities, while property crime is down 47% compared to 29%. The good news is that the nation's capital has gone from it's murder capital to "almost average", with a somewhat higher than normal ratio of violent crime to property crime. And that is more than can be said for the city's health, education, and poverty statistics!
bad news: comparing DC police force to other US cities: 2005
The same annual FBI report that provides national regional and local data in its Unified Crime Report, also gives total police force levels both uniformed and civilian. The chart below shows the number of police department personnel per thousand inhabitants for all cities over 250,000, and broken out by major sections of the country. In this respect, DC is way out of line in total MPD personnel, and this statistic is further exacerbated by the fact that there are at least 3000 other police personnel within DC hired by separate local and federal agencies. For instance, DC has separate police for its public housing, Metro has separate police for its subways, the Park Service has separate police for its parkland, and the National Capitol has over 1500 uniformed officers. Equivalent information is not provided for other cities, but it is unlikely that any US city has as many separate add-on police units as Washington, DC.
DC'S Law Enforcers
There are without question more law enforcement officials in the nation's capital than in any other American city. The federal government has several, varying from the Secret Service that protects the President, to the Capitol Police that protects the Congress, and the Park Police that patrols the city's extensive park areas. But DC itself maintains a large force of nearly 5000 employees, way out of proportion to the number of residents it serves. As shown on the chart below, compared to city and state averages, DC has almost twice as many police employees per thousand residents, and a larger than average fraction of them are in uniform, rather than civilians: DC's Homicide Victims:
DC's law enforcers also have the unenviable record of solving a very small fraction of their violent crimes, including homicides. Although DC has lost its recent dubious reputation as the "murder capital of the US", it still has more than its share, and more of those killed are young and black. The two charts below shown that almost 80% of those killed are below their middle thirties, with 50% below 25 (10% below 18!) (Left chart). In DC (and neighboring Prince George's) 90% or more of those killed are black (right hand chart). [It might be noted that the large variation for the suburban jurisdictions basically reflects a much smaller annual sample, giving rise to larger variations.]
Given the statistics that kids of families in poverty do less well in school, come from families where no male parent is present, and are more likely to drop-out, it seems clear that DC's violent crime problems can be characterized essentially as a "war between the drop-outs", not only a depressing thought, but a condition which is certain to make crime-solving substantially more difficult.
Arrests by Age Group
National statistics on the number of arrests in American cities in 2000 are informative, albeit depressing, to say the least. Altogether, there were 6,957,000 arrests in American cities in 2000: 5,670,000 of adults, and 1,287,000 of kids under 18; 5,381,000 of males, and 1,576,000 of females; 4,669,000 of Whites and 2,114,000 of Blacks. The distribution between crime categories are shown on the somewhat complicated chart below, separating out adults and kids by race and sex. Violent crimes make up less than 5% of the total; other assaults 9%, drug-related almost 12% and serious property crimes 13%.
As indicated at the bottom of the chart, there were 23.5 arrests per 1000 white adults and 17.6 per 1000 white kids, but 77.4 for black adults, and 29.1/1000 for black kids. Male adults were arrested for 78% of all adult crimes, and males kids were arrested for 72% of youth crimes. Among arrests for violent crimes, 82% were males among adults, and 81% males among youths. More troublesome is the fact that although Blacks make up only 12.3% of the US population, they made up 30% of all arrests and 41% of arrests for violent crimes. Black kids made up 27% of all arrests, but an alarming 44% of minors arrested for violent crimes. It is interesting to note however, that Blacks do make up 27% of all families below the poverty line, and 41% of all poverty households headed by a single adult. To the extent that crime and poverty are related, then the arrest statistics are not out on line.
Population Under "Correctional Supervision"
By the end of 2000, over 6,300,000 Americans were under "correctional supervision", either in jail or prison, on probation or parole. The upper chart to the right shows the growth in percent of those adults as a percent of all white, black, and "other" Americans between 1986 and 1997. That 9% of all American adult Blacks are somewhere "in the system" should be a matter of substantial concern. So should the continued growth in total population in state or federal prison (lower left).
In 1993, 4.8% of all DC adults, and 2.5% of Maryland adults were somewhere "in the system" (lower left chart). The per-capita shares in each category are worth noting. Compared to Maryland, DC has four times as many persons in prison and on parole, 55% more in jail, and 12% more on probation, indicating DC's far more serious problem with major crimes.
This item has been 'archived'
After four years of relative stability in manning levels (4200-4300 uniformed and civilian FTE's) and budgets (9.0% to 9.5% of DC's locally-generated operating funds), DC's Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) is again planning some organizational/territorial changes. And for the first time since May of 1999, NARPAC is taking another look at how the MPD allocates its resources and accomplishes its missions.
Though there have been some significant improvements in both training and equipment modernity, the overall impression remains of a rather lackluster organization, doing a poor to middling job of making DC residents feel secure. There are repeated media reports of inefficient, sometimes dysfunctional, performance; crime rates have shown little reduction over the past four years; homicide closure rates are very low; the public is clearly dissatisfied with its continued feelings of neighborhood insecurity; and parents continue to decry high crime rates both with and near their local schools. And it matters little that these complaints are common in the inner city parts of most large American cities.
crime trends since 1999
NARPAC has looked at crime statistics in and relevant to DC on several occasions. Preliminary numbers were compiled in early 1998, with a more complete analysis of comparative 1997 crime rates in 2001, indicating that DC's numbers were similar to those of other "inner cities", although DC's ability to solve homicides has been miserable. By the fall of 2001, Census 2000 data was summarized, indicating that earlier declines in serious crimes had leveled off, and that DC continues to have serious problems with violent crimes committed by, and victimizing, young blacks. NARPAC concluded that DC's crime problems could be characterized as a "war between the drop-outs"!
For this update, crime statistics have now been extended through 2003 (preliminary), as shown on the click-up chart to the right. It would certainly be difficult from these data to assert that DC's organizational changes had made any significant difference in standardized crime statistics, particularly if the 2003 data are eventually revised upwards. regrouping the PSAs
A major feature of the 1999 MPD reorganization
was to get more cops out into the neighborhoods, operating directly from
some 83 local "Police Service Areas (PSAs)", and including some normally
centralized functions such as the detective force. By the end of 2001,
NARPAC's fears about over-decentralizing scarce skills had been realized,
and investigative services were in the main re-centralized (though DC's
depressingly low homicide closure rate has remained a bone of contention
and a source of scorn). By mid-2003, the Mayor sensed that there were
too many PSAs, and recommended that MPD regroup them into about 40 PSAs,
wherever possible lining them up with the city's 'planning clusters',
each containing 3-6 local neighborhoods. After months of negotiations
with neighborhood and cluster activists, the MPD and the Mayor announced
their plans for PSA realignments in January of 2004. Perhaps most interesting,
if not incredible, these realignments for the first time make a
serious effort to allocate manpower within each PSA in proportion to
its crime rates!
These realignments do not change the basic supervisory structure that has been in place for a much longer time. There remain seven police districts, or precincts (1D, 5D, etc), and they remain grouped into the three Regional Operational Commands established in 1999 (ROC-North, ROC-Central, and ROC-East), each with a Regional Assistant Chief). The click-up chart to the left shows the new PSA alignments, color-coded to indicate how many "field officers" (captains, lieutenants, sergeants, and officers) will be assigned to each. Police Districts 2D, 3D, and 4D are under ROC-North; 1D and 5D under ROC-Central; and 6D and 7D under ROC-East (East of the Anacostia River) . Per household crimes of all sorts are lowest in 2D, which for public safety purposes might as well be part of Montgomery (MD) or Fairfax (VA) Counties, while 3D averages the highest average number of priority emergency calls for police assistance, and 7D reigns as the violent crime capital within DC.
allocating field officers to the PSAs The newly proposed PSAs line up very well with the existing "planning clusters". These now firmly-established DC "planning clusters" evolved as a part of the Mayor's initiative for Strategic Neighborhood Action Plans, which have been described in some detail by NARPAC. These "SNAPs" were first presented in October of 2002, and are gradually broadening in significance. It is of some interest to note that among the many individual neighborhood action plans, public safety on average ranks fourth (out of 12 categories): behind economic development, suitable housing, and traffic/transportation problems.
NARPAC firmly supported the development of these defined geographic entities somewhere between wards (too big) and individual neighborhoods (too small), but was somewhat disappointed to find that there is such a large variation in population between the various clusters. This carries over, then, into very substantial differences in numbers of crimes committed and, in turn, to the appropriate number of police "needed" in each cluster or PSA. Five readily available crime statistics are available for use in allocating police. Three involve the crimes themselves: 'homicides'(235); the larger category of 'other violent crimes' against people (8,150) to which homicides are normally added; and the generally lower priority but much larger number of 'property crimes' (29,300). The numbers in parentheses are the preliminary data for 2003. Also readily available are statistics on the number of emergency calls emanating from each neighborhood, and these are normally divided into 'Priority One' calls (123,800), requiring immediate response based on police judgments of how serious the caller's problem might become (an interesting professional twist); and 'non-priority One' calls (254,800), which must be the bane of every cop's daily routine.
Numerologists should put these numbers into perspective: there are less than 247,000 households altogether in DC, and less than 2000 "foot soldiers" among the deployable police "field forces" (see below). To be more specific, using the planning factors for troubled District 7, each and every household in Ward 8 will on average call 911 (or 311) once every 5.5 months, and every beat cop in 7D will have to deal with 190 emergency calls per year.
Force allocations among the PSAs were eventually made by the MPD analysts, by applying weighting factors of 50% for Priority One calls; 20% each for homicides and other violent crimes against people; a 5% each for property crimes and non-Priority One calls. Other criteria that might have been used (and have been used in superficial NARPAC analyses) would include total population, adults, young adults, households, or geographic area to be covered.
Force allocations are also complicated by other non-proportional factors: a) since the PSAs operate on three shifts and require a command structure, the seven districts will require nominally 21 captains, and the 40 PSAs will require some combination of at least six lieutenants and sergeants; b) each district and PSA requires a significant number of operational support personnel (many civilians), roughly proportional to workload in each PSA: and c) there are special considerations for certain PSAs with unique problems, and also a minimum requirement for those relatively small PSAs with low crime rates (set at 21, primarily by neighborhood insistence on some police presence around the clock).
Hence in the announced MPD plan, the 1645 fielded "foot soldiers", "beat cops", or just plain "officers" are accompanied by 292 superior officers (5.6:1), and 264 support personnel (6.2:1). In addition, some 12 of the 40 PSAs (39 plus one 'etc.') reflect the minimum strength requirement, and present a cost of perhaps 30 officers above an unrestrained low end. Analysts could debate for years how best to shrink the number of PSAs to eliminate that inefficiency, no doubt over the dead bodies of various neighborhood activists. The upper chart below ranks the PSAs in the order of their weighted crime scores to show how large the variation is (roughly a factor of ten), and the lower chart shows the variation in proposed manning levels for those PSAs (in the same rank order) to demonstrate the impact of "other considerations" on the analyst's ideal world.
NARPAC, somewhat surprised by the choice of allocation criteria, took the time to compute the relative manning levels that would result for each District and ROC using nine alternative base criteria ranging from violent crimes only (top graph, green bars), to number of households only (bottom graph, yellow bars). These are shown on the three graphs to the right.
Although there are some measurable differences, the overall sense of this graphic is that substantial changes in the criteria bring only modest changes in optimummanning levels, with only a few exceptions. For instance, 2D would lose almost two-thirds of its police presence if the allocations were based on homicides only, but would gain twice as many cops if the only criterion was the total area of its PSAs. On the other hand, 3D would be in trouble if its manning were set by its small area rather than its high crime rate, and ROC-East would lose some officers using any of the single-factor criteria shown.
The more important change appears (from indirect data) to be the use of any criteria rather than equal district manning, which appears to have been used in the existing allocations. In earlier years, MPD did not make available its detailed allocations (at least not to NARPAC), although the distribution of senior officers is shown on their generally informative web site. The chart below shows the 2003 Priority One calls per senior officer in each of the three ROCs and their subordinate districts by the existing allocations (red) and the MPD planned allocations (green). Ideally, each district would have the same ratio, rather than 2:l variations as now exist. The new (green) plan clearly provides better equalization than the existing (red) plan.
MPD "tooth-to-tail" ratios
Amateur military analysts (and skeptics) delight in pointing out how few weapon-toting fighters ("teeth") there are in American military forces compared to those who serve behind the lines ("tail"). Such oversimplification tends to neglect the obvious fact that any animal needs brains, muscle, mobility, sustenance, and experience to fight well, none of which is provided by its teeth, fangs though they may be!. The same evidently applies to police forces as shown on the click-up graphic below, breaking out the total DC MPD manpower proposed in the 2004 Operating Budget.
The left hand bar stacks up the total planned MPD personnel levels of some 4600 full time uniformed and civilian personnel, and highlights each of the "tail" components. Less than 4% of total MPD personnel are assigned to the "front office", not a surprising number given the socio-political environment in which an inner city (and capital city as well) must operate. A more robust 12% plus are involved in "professional development" and just plain training. Just under 6% more are involved in the business office (personnel, purchases and contracts), while almost 7% (308 FTE's) are involved in supporting the communications office, and handling those 380,000 yearly calls for assistance. If three-quarters of that communications staff actually mans the phones, then each one is handling some 1650 calls per year, less than one per working hour. (Couldn't your daughters do better than that?)
Investigative operations involves a few more than 500 people (11%), and about 75% of them are presumably charged with determining and demonstrating guilt in the nearly 38,000 crimes (if not more) committed in 2003. Assume for a moment that each murder requires 50 times, and each other violent crime 10 times as much investigative effort as the average property crime (factors taken off NARPAC's ceiling), then these investigators must solve each property crime within 6 manhours, each violent crime within 60 manhours, and each murder within 310 manhours. NARPAC in all its innocence doubts that this is realistic, particularly since it includes no allowance for such other punishable offenses such as child abuse and narcotics trade.
Finally, outside the "field forces" (NARPAC's term) that can be assigned to manage or staff the 40 new PSAs, there is a noteworthy category of Special Field Operations involving some 240, presumably elite, MPD personnel. According to the 2004 DC budget book:
The Special Field Operations program provides specialized patrol, tactical, rescue, and security services to the public, businesses, and government in the District so that they can be safe from personal injury and property damage in special circumstances. Special Field Operations (SFO) includes Special Events, Special Patrols, Emergency Services, and Synchronized Operations Command Center/Joint Operations Command Center (SOCC/JOCC).Clearly, these are demands imposed by the presence of the Federal Government, and the various categories of visitors (including tourists and commuters) that pour through the city. On the other side of the coin, however, the DC budget book does not include any estimate of the share of the thousands of Park Police; FBI, Secret Service or ATF agents; or Federal Protective Service, Capitol, Metro and GSA police that cooperate with the MPD on a variety of missions. More on this later. From the simple standpoint of allocating MPD personnel to DC's PSAs, however, these personnel should obviously be counted as "teeth", not "tail", even though they are not available for neighborhood policing.
The central bar on the above graphic shows that the "field forces" (including the SFO) amount to some 55% of total MPD personnel, which NARPAC guesses is a far better tooth-to-tail ratio than achieved by any of the US military departments, though no comparisons are readily available to other large urban police forces. What is known suggests that there are far more police per resident in DC than any other large American city, but the reason remains unclear. (Too bad neither the MPD nor DC's CFO delves into such comparisons to help determine the relative efficiency of this important component of DC's many municipal functions.)
Aside from the SFO, however, the command structure of the "field forces" accounts for 25% of their personnel, while support functions occupy another 10%. Officers "on the beat", on foot, on bicycles, or most likely in their squad cars, then, amount to 1645 individuals, about 35% of all MPD full-time personnel. The right hand bar chart shows how those 1645 are 'earmarked' by the allocation process, as defined by MPD (or, more properly, as understood by NARPAC!). Apparently, 80% are justified by the number of high priority calls, 16% by low priority calls, 2% (31 officers) for property crimes, another 2% (34 officers) for violent crimes other than homicide, and one single officer by DC's almost uniquely high homicide rate. This is, of course, a somewhat specious breakout since, as has already been mentioned, the allocations would not be grossly different if the weighting factors between the various crime statistics had been very different.
each police district is uniquely different
Having allocated available operational police forces as discussed in the prior section, it is also of some interest to scan the differences in character of the seven districts and hence the three ROCs. These differences would be even more pronounced if carried down to the PSA (or planning cluster) level, and this is the subject of a different NARPAC analysis on demographic trends by planning cluster, drawing on the same data as used in this analysis. The following two chart sets essentially speak for themselves in differing degrees of detail.
The summary chart below presents 15 different parameters by which the ROCs, PDs, and PSAs can be compared. It is presented in an unusual fashion so that all parameters can be shown to the same basic reference scale: i.e., relative to the highest value in each category. The point is that in many categories the spread between PDs is 3, 5, or even 10 to one. In each case, the PDs are presented in the same order, grouped from ROC-North to ROC-Central to ROC-East, and generally from richest-and-safest, to poorest-and-most-at-risk. Only a few of the parameters may be unfamiliar to the reader and these are explained below the chart:
o "wealth product" is a NARPAC invention that combines 4x median household income with median housing value times percentage of homeowners. Wealth product per dependent is probably the best indicator of the kids' chances for a fully successful life;
o "family and adult education score" is another NARPAC convenience (used elsewhere on this web site) giving a score of "-1" for adults with less than a 9th Grade education; a "0" for not completely high school; a "1" for graduating from high school and going on; and "2" for graduating from college and going on. Family education combines adult education with average number of parents per family;
o "kids education score" combines math and reading scores between 3rd and 5th grades;
o "single/married parents" is the ratio of single parents to married parents.
o "low productivity housing" is either simply unoccupied, "vacant and/or abandoned", subsidized, or part of public housing.
The following more detailed click-up chart to the right combines many of the above parameters with several new ones, and presents the ROC subtotals as well as the districts. In each case, the subordinate red bars (PDs) add up to the total percentage represented by the green bars, and the green bars (ROCs) always add to 100%. There are no additional terms requiring definition on this chart.
this ain't the way the GAO sizes police forces
Few supposedly authoritative reports on DC's overall financial difficulties have rankled NARPAC more than the GAO's claims that DC should be spending almost $500M more annually on its public safety because police forces should be sized primarily by the number of homicides in their jurisdictions. And since DC's YR2000 homicide rate per capita was 7.5 times the national average, DC should have a police force five times as large as the national average per capita. In NARPAC's prior analysis of GAO's faulty work, it is demonstrated that homicide rates are not consistent indicators of a jurisdiction's overall crime rate or need for police personnel. This is reinforced again within DC. The chart below shows how DC's "field forces" would be deployed if homicide rates were the only criterion (blue bars) compared to the newly developed MPD plan (green bars). However, there is nothing in the GAO analysis, or in any of the other analyses found or conducted by NARPAC, that justifies as many police per capita as DC currently employs, and certainly no rationale for more than doubling its current size!
and it doesn't support CFO claims of the costs to DC police of commuters and the federal presence
Finally, the proposed allocation of police "field forces" provides some insights into the number of police required to support the daytime downtown population of federal workers, commuters, visitors, and tourists, as well as Washingtonians. The CFO has asserted in many official documents that almost 30% of DC's public safety costs should be allocated to the presence of the federal government simply because over 27% of the total property in DC is owned by the federal government! A less rational correlation is difficult to conjure up, particularly when the Federal Government employs more than 3000 police in DC in almost a dozen different agencies and when the majority of the federal land in DC is parkland.
This MPD plan does not specifically address the net public safety costs (if any) of the federal presence and the various safety risks it attracts. Nor, for that matter, does the DC budget identify the substantial level of "assistance in kind" provided by federal agencies to theMPD. Nonetheless, NARPAC believes that the MPD plan does place some limits on the involvement of its police (and other public safety personnel) in those affected PSAs. Surely some substantial fraction, if not all, of the 238 Special Field Operations (SFO) officers would not be needed if DC was not the seat of the federal government. But it is also true (though not clearly recorded in DC's annual budget documents) that DC is sometimes, but by no means always, recompensed by the Feds for major events (from inaugurations to demonstrations).
In addition, there are four potentially affected PSAs: a) the basic downtown PSA (101) has some 80 more police than would be justified by its weighted crime score average compared to the number of its residents; b) two others (104 and 206) actually have less police allocated than that average; and c) a fourth, PSA 306, which borders on both downtown and some of the highest crime neighborhoods in the city. PSA 306 is allocated some 12 officers more than the citywide average would justify.
Sketchy as this analysis is, it suggests that somewhere between 200 and 300 "field officers" should be allocated to all the non-resident activities associated with downtown, not just the federal presence, per se. That amounts to between 8% and 12% of DC's total "field officers", and by imputation, 8% to 12% of the MPD budget (and perhaps the FEMS budget as well). DC's CFO appears to be substantially overstating potential justifiable indemnity from the Federal Government.
This relatively long article chronicles continuing difficulties of DC's MPD from 1998-2000, and is now of only historic interest.
This item has been 'archived'
This pertinent issue made news in 2000, and is now somewhat dated.
This item has been 'archived'
According to a lengthy article in the Washington Post in February, 1999, a new and serious concern is growing in cities like DC that various activists (of which DC has more than its share) are using the jury system to express civil protest instead of upholding existing laws. Instead of finding for or against the accused, individual jurors are finding for or against the law the accused may have broken.
Proponents of "jury nullification" have become well organized and supported by prominent spokesmen in respected DC institutions including George Washington University. Jurors are being encouraged to "veto" laws that they think are "unjust", and to perjure themselves if necessary during the jury selection process if judges ask "prying" questions. In essence, the notion of using the jury box to express civil protest is being endorsed by many.
Cases of hung juries have increased several fold over the past few years. In 1996, the last year of available statistics, 15% of all DC Federal criminal cases resulted in hung juries--a threefold increase in five years. And a recent poll has found that 75% of Americans now assert they "would act on their own beliefs of right and wrong regardless of instructions from a judge to follow the letter of the law". Butler of GWU has asserted that if blacks "simply followed the law because whites told them to, they'd still be slaves". After all, he says, The law doesn't come from God. It comes from people like Jesse Helms and Newt Gingrich".
Prominent jurists in the Attorney General's office and the DC Superior Court System are taking this threat of "vigilante justice" very seriously. They claim that nullification is indefensible and are backed up by a 1997 Appeals Court decision calling it "by definition a violation of the juror's oath to apply the law as instructed by the court".
There is no consensus yet on what to do when shifting public ethics set out to defeat a "central component of American democracy". Some states are apparently considering non-unanimous verdicts in criminal cases to avert hung juries. Judges are spending more time questioning potential jurors, though this seems unlikely to do the trick. So far, there is apparently no move to: place observers in the jury room; do background check on potential jurors; or muzzle the proponents as seditionists. On occasion, jurors that have blatantly caused mistrials have been prosecuted and convicted of obstructing justice, but it is relatively easy to disguise one's motives when such a threat exists.
DC would do well to take this threat seriously. America's capital will never be a source of national pride if it condones--and espouses--the erosion of our justice system in the name of civil protest. NARPAC strongly recommends that the DC Council establish a bipartisan commission to look into available legislative countermeasures.
In an OpEd in the Washington Post on October 8th, 2000, Judge Mize of DC's Superior Court publicly acknowledged what many Washingtonians have known (and experienced) for years: that the use of peremptory strikes to eliminate potential jurors purely on the basis of race 'skews juries and weakens justice in DC'. Such 'legal discrimination' has in general resulted in very few whites (and particularly white males) serving on DC juries whose cases most frequently address black defendants.
HEADLINES CONCERNING SAFETY AND JUSTICE IN DC
The table below presents NARPAC, Inc.'s updated listing of functions and aims within this general category, offering simple goals and approaches for achieving them, and noting the progress (if any) to date. The tabulations and entries are clearly preliminary, but are intended to indicate the full range of steps needed to assure long-range solutions to the District's systemic problems.
Revised Version -- January, 2002 -- changes from original in green
This page was updated on Oct 15, 2006
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