This section summarizes the official Control Board "indictments" against the District's:

It also presents a summary of the extensive federal assistance being provided through the mechanism of the Federal DC Task Force.


(Summarized from April 8, 1997 Control Board Report)

In February 1997, the preliminary findings of a Booz-Allen Hamilton report on the DC Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) were presented at a news conference. The consulting firm had found that:

  • Crime and fear of crime are unacceptably high, causing a state of crisis;
  • Sixteen percent of officers are currently assigned to scout cars;
  • Two-thirds of the MPD officers make 10 or fewer arrests, and half of these officers make no arrests at all;
  • Salary levels are consistently lower than surrounding jurisdictions;
  • Two-thirds of MPD officers have a second job;
  • The MPD is not organized to deliver required police services in DC.
That preliminary baseline report empowered the Office of the Chief of Police to: develop a new mission for the MPD and establish a new leadership team, promoting some 70-odd officers; redeploy 400 officers; and form an internal team to work with Booz-Allen to "develop a new policing model". Initial results of that effort had clear positive results.

The major findings of the final baseline report include:

  • Crime in DC was significantly higher than in other major US cities, and crimes committed (population adjusted) increased 50% over the past decade;
  • DC has significantly more sworn officers per capita than any other major US city, even when taking into account the number of officers required for federal support;
  • MPD's current operating model is antiquated and requires sweeping reorganization to meet crime and disorder control requirements;
  • Relationships with the community are fragmented. MPD currently lacks the capabilities for successful dialogue and interaction with its diverse communities;
  • MPD frequently lacks effective relationships with other police and federal agencies. Coordination between the MPD and the other justice system constituents is insufficient.
  • MPD's crime analysis capabilities are currently configured to support redundant missions, causing overlap, reduced accountability, and performance gaps;
  • Officers spend almost 70% of their time responding to calls for service; 75% of those calls are to locations off the officers' assigned beats (on average, officers spend only 6% of their patrol time on crime prevention under the current operating model;
  • MPD has one of the lowest levels of employment of civilians compared to police departments in other major metropolitan areas;
  • MPD has a variety of complex systems that lack interconnectivity and functionality. For example, arrest processing takes more than 4 hours on average. A more effective, automated booking system is required;
  • MPD support processes are currently not capable of adequately supporting the department. Major areas reviewed include: finance and budgeting; procurement; recruiting and training; medical services; property and inventory management; ballistics analysis.

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((Summarized from TriData/Arthur Andersen report 10/7/97)

This report begins by acknowledging that "Overall, the DCFEMS delivers a range of emergency services similar to comparable cities and entirely appropriate for its community. Service levels for firefighting appear to be nominally in line with national practice, while emergency medical service response times are much longer than national standards."

On the more negative side, however, it finds serious shortcomings in prevention and planning functions, in a reactive mode, and suffering from low morale due to reduced resources, negative media reports, and incredibly bureaucratic procurement policies.

From the standpoint of organization and management, the DC Fire Chief is hamstrung from normal management decisions by current constraints on his authority, including procurement, budgeting, and deployment of resources. There is an inadequate computer network, confusion about budgeting, and widespread use of firefighters to fill-in positions outside firefighting. The report also recommends the strengthening and clarification of mutual aid agreements with neighboring jurisdictions.

The DC fire death rate per capita is about 60% above the national rate, and relatively high among American cities. In the area of fire prevention, there is no systematic program to reach school children or the elderly, inadequate support from the police in arson investigation, and excessive delays in building reviews. There are two other important criticisms:

o The courts have given the fire department the job of inspecting repairs to the schools (See PEI.HTM), though the department personnel have no training to do this, and have a major shortfall in fire inspection.

o Unqualified personnel are reviewing plans for complex fire protection systems in new buildings. There are no fire protection engineers, whereas neighboring Prince George's County has nine.

The Emergency Medical Services (EMS) efforts occupy over 75% of Fire Department responses, and the average response times for paramedics are highly unsatisfactory. Utilization rates are way above national norms, leading to longer response times and paramedic "burnout". The (dubious) "first responder program" gets engine company equipment to the scene much faster than ambulances, though "there is no ready explanation for the difference." EMS and firefighter personnel are "two cultures at odds with one another" which lead to friction, with different work schedules, accountability practices, overtime arrangements, performance standards, and chains of command.

Firefighting Operations are severely hindered by a) a lack of reserve ladder trucks and pumpers--way below national standards; b) major inefficiencies in fire apparatus repair; deployment of assets; and d) lack of reliable data and the long-existing technology that could gather it. The computerized dispatch system is out-of-date.

Likewise, "special operations" are severely hindered by poor conditions; lack-of back-up units and transportation; obsolete specialized equipment; and insufficient protective suits. The entire unit is funded by community grants and has no permanent budget: its personnel are on temporary detail.

Communications systems are inadequate and lack interoperability with other departments. There are major areas where they do not work well (such as in underground Metro subway stations, and deep inside big federal buildings). Training and management of emergency personnel are seriously lacking, even in answering 911 calls.

The DCFEMS personnel situation mirrors that elsewhere in the DC government: lack of adequate accountability--even for attendance, meeting the dress code, and dangerous on-call driving. Restrictive disability retirement rules lead to carrying many firefighters on permanent full-time injury status, and using overtime among other personnel to compensate. Personnel safety is apparently haphazard, and outdated position descriptions lead to the hiring of personnel unable to perform essential functions (such as maintaining complex apparatus).

Property and Supply, Station Maintenance, and Training conditions also mirror DC practices elsewhere:

o The procurement, storage and distribution of supplies is deplorable. The lack of key items ranging from oxygen and fuel, to toilet paper and vehicle cleaners hampers the delivery of services and affects the morale and dignity of the personnel. There is no dedicated property officer or supply chief, no central inventory system or property accountability, and virtually no storage facility security.

o Station maintenance is primitive. Many stations are in disrepair with leaking roofs, inadequate heating, and inadequate facilities for female firefighters.

o The Training academy is "in deplorable condition--literally a junk yard". It needs a new facility with live burn simulation capabilities. The training culture itself must change, and permanent (rather than borrowed) equipment and apparatus is needed for training recruits.

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(Summarized from report of Oct 8, 1997, supported by the National Institute of Corrections, and funded by the Federal Bureau of Prisons)

The DC Department of Corrections (DOC) is currently responsible for 9230 inmates, including 1020 individuals being held pending trial in the DC court system, 382 misdemeanants and 7828 sentenced felons--most of whom are incarcerated in six facilities at Lorton, Virginia.

The DCDOC has been the recipient of numerous court orders, remedial orders, and consent decrees since 1971, addressing almost every aspect of corrections operations, but not in the same manner or extent at each of the eight major institutions. Serious imbalances in allotted resources has been the unintended consequence of these piecemeal actions--even to the seriously distorted availability of health services.

Key managers in the DOC Central Office describe the agency as being in a "state of emergency", due to inadequate staffing, conflicting court orders, overcrowding, inadequate resources--and political indifference. Fiscal and procurement difficulties have made providing the basics in both security equipment for the staff and personal hygiene for inmates extremely difficult.

The current staff of 2115 correctional officers and 917 non uniformed staff is 21% smaller than three years ago, and further unbalanced by the necessity to satisfy Court mandated positions first. Before the recent closing of the Medium Security facility (in September) DOC listed 352 unfilled positions as critical. Now that Congress has mandated that Lorton be closed and all felons transferred to federal prisons within three years, staff insecurity is even higher, and it is almost impossible to keep the current staff, let alone hire replacements. As elsewhere throughout the DC government, personnel hiring requests are rejected, and existing staffs earn large overtime salaries.

The Lorton Complex includes seven facilities on 3000 acres of federally owned land in Northern Virginia. Of these, the newest and best unit, the "Modular Facility" was closed in 1995 for fiscal reasons, and the Medium Security facility in September of this year. The Central Facility is now designated as medium security, and houses 1300 male adult inmates who are participating in academic and vocational education and prison industries. (Over 5700 inmates are involved in such programs throughout the system) The oldest buildings in this complex date back to 1921.

The Maximum Facility is near its court-ordered capacity of 626 adult males, with buildings ranging from the 1930's and 40s to some added in the 70s and 80s. The Minimum Security and Female Annex is at its capacity of 1112 inmates, housed in buildings only 5-15 years old. The Occoquan Facility has buildings dating back from 10 to 70 years, and has a capacity of 1673 inmates. Finally, the Youth Facility houses 854 youths 17 to 21 years old, in buildings about ten years older than their inmates. DCDOC now contracts with the Correctional Corporation of America (CCA) to house 1700 sentenced felons at a privately operated prison in Youngstown, Ohio, thereby raising the ire of the prisoners' families who cannot easily visit.

DC also operates a Correctional Detention Facility within the District designed to house 960 inmates, but often populated by over 2600, leading to a court imposed ceiling of 1674. This unit is now in court receivership. A new facility opened in 1992 can house 832 adult males and females, and is now operated by CCA.

As is true elsewhere, budget planning appears marginal at best, and the slow pace of modernization of management information and technology systems threatens to make current updates obsolete before they are finished.

Problems in DOC are frequently repeated in the Youth Services Administration (YSA) which provides institutional and community-based custody, care, and treatment for juveniles in a variety of categories short of final sentencing. This agency, operated under the umbrella of the Department of Human Services, employs a staff of over 340 employees, and has a daily population of about 840 youth. This agency has been operating under a consent decree since 1986, and is faced with at least 30 separate implementing orders, many of which are not now in compliance. Perhaps the only bright spot is that the demographic projections show no increase in juvenile population for 6-8 years--if then--and further increases in juvenile crime (and arrests) seem unlikely.

The usual shortcomings apply; staff has little comprehension of the budget process; supervisory vacancies are often filled with temporary personnel; management has little or no analysis and planning capabilities; management information systems are almost non-existent; the procurement system works poorly if at all; overtime spending is excessive; the physical plant is in poor repair; internal security is violated daily; and the delivery of program services is "highly problematic and fails to meet minimally adequate national standards".

return to the top of the pageFEDERAL ASSISTANCE IN PUBLIC SAFETY
Problems of crime and law enforcement have plagued the DC for many years, and have been generally considered to be at least partially responsible for the exodus of taxpayers from the city. Since 1993, federal assistance has been given in many low profile ways. In the most recent major offer of assistance, the President has recommended to the Congress that the prison system revert to federal control. This has raised new issues about the relative leniency of the DC parole system which would be unacceptable by federal standards. Resolution of these issues could be a major development in 1997. The following excerpts from the DC Task Force report of 1996 activities--now somewhat dated--indicate how the federal government is trying to assist DC:

VII Public Safety

Since 1993, when this Administration took office, D.C.'s rate of violent crimes against individuals has fallen dramatically. In 1995, the District had its lowest homicide rate since 1987. Other violent crimes (e.g., assault with a dangerous weapon) also have fallen steadily over this period. Property crimes in D.C., however, continue to rise, mainly due to the rise in theft of, and from, autos.

The Administration has contributed to the fall in crime in D.C. through the following programs: In 1994, through the Federal Assistance Program, nearly every Federal agency with law enforcement responsibilities , from the Drug Enforcement Agency @EA) to the IRS - participated in a coordinated strategy to help D.C.'s Metropolitan Police Department (MPD). Highlights of the program include:

o The United States Park Police and the Uniformed Division of the Secret Service initiated new or intensified patrols in selected parts of the city. From late February to September 1994, the two agencies made about 2,482 arrests, responded to over 4,500 calls for service and seized over $325,000 worth of drugs.

o The Justice Department, through the Bureau of Justice Assistance, awarded funds to the MPD Homicide Branch, enabling the branch to quadruple the number of homicide detectives, train investigators, and upgrade technology - all of which contributed to a rise in the closure rate for homicide cases in 1994.

o The Justice Department awarded a $1 million grant to OPERATION CLEAN-UP, enabling the MPD Firearms Identification Unit to eliminate a backlog of about 2,000 firearms requiring examinations. The FBI housed the operation, providing equipment and technical assistance.

o The U.S. Marshals Service, which normally provides long-term witness protection, is providing short-term protection to witnesses and victims in the District. Since 1994, about 58 witnesses have entered the program.

o The Federal Protective Service and the FBI helped MPD with background checks of police recruits, and the Defense Department has allowed MPD to use its registries of armed forces personnel who are leaving their jobs and who would make good candidates for MPD.

o The Justice Department awarded a $6.1 million grant to D.C., of which $3 million is for D.C. corrections and $2 million is for drug control and MPD improvements in technology, equipment, support resources, and overtime. The rest will go to juvenile justice and delinquency prevention programs, nd other crime victims assistance programs.

o The Safe Streets initiative, comprising various violent crime task forces, is being staffed and funded mainly by such Federal agencies as the FBI, DEA, and ATF. For several years, Safe Streets Task Forces have allowed the MPD to combine its local knowledge with the technical expertise of the FBI and other law enforcement agencies, focusing on gang violence, fugitives, and homicides. Since their creation in the early 1990s, the task forces have brought the arrest of 2,963 fugitives, 417 gang members, and 79 people involved in homicide cases.

o The Justice Department awarded funding to OPERATION CEASEFIRE, a joint initiative among MPD, the U.S. Attorney's Office, and ATF. The initiative is designed to reduce violent crime in D.C. by removing illegal guns from the community. In the first four months, gun seizure squads confiscated 282 firearms, including 127 handguns.

The Justice Department's Bureau of Prisons (BOP)has been working with D.C.'s Department of Corrections (DOC) for many years. For example:

o BOP's National Institute of Corrections (NIC) has completed a study of the status of operations and programs in D.C.'s Corrections Department, as Congress required in the fiscal 1995 District of Columbia appropriation. That study -- which covers such items as classification of inmate security levels and related population management issues, health care, mental health services, staffing, and security -- was sent to Congress in February 1996.

o At D.C.'s request, BOP has accepted transfers of D.C. prisoners into its facilities to temporarily alleviate prisoner overcrowding at Corrections Department facilities.

o BOP has worked well with its counterparts in Corrections, responding to informal requests for assistance and advice on such topics as suicide prevention and victim assistance, and on general administrative and security issues.

May 1998 Update of Federal DC Task Force

o Crime Reduction: A federal task force consisting of DEA, FBI, ATF, US Marshals, US attorney's Office, HUD IG, DC Public Housing Authority, and MPD, has targeted Montana Terrace and Brookland Manor--two public housing developments with high crime rates, resulting in a substantial reduction in serious crimes.

o MPD procurement assistance: the GSA is providing manpower support in eliminating MPD's backlog of outstanding procurement requests, and in identifying relevant federal sources of supply. GSA is helping recruit and train professional procurement personnel for the MPD, and is drafting a suitable policies and procedures manual.

o Law enforcement assistance: The US Park Police (USPP) work with the MPD in law enforcement activities both within and outside the National Park Service areas. USPP provides back-up assistance in pursuing crimes near parks, and provides escort services, traffic control, and parking enforcement for special events. It also generates revenues by issuing tickets for parking and other violations payable to the District. Furthermore, since the MPD stood down its own helicopter unit, the USPP now provides the only police aviation unit in the District, conducting criminal searches, medevac, search and rescue, and other services for DC.

o Assistance to DC DoC: The federal Bureau of Prisons (BoP) has transferred approximately $4.9M in federal surplus equipment to the DC Department of Corrections, and has provided training for 55 DoC staff to implement the BoP system for classifying prisoners.

o Prison population: The transition of some 7200 adult felons to federal prisons has begun. Of DC's seven facilities at Lorton, VA, two are already closed, and two more scheduled for end FY99. The FY99 BoP contains $300M of an estimated total of $711M in new correctional facilities, as well as $185M to finance the housing of those prisoners. The BoP is also establishing procedures to apprise DC DoC staff of employment opportunities with the BoP.

o Courts and parole system: The Federal FY99 budget contains $121M to finance the operations of the DC Courts, and an additional $21M for capital improvements to those facilities. The US Parole Commission assumes the parole release functions of the DC Parole Board in August, 1998, and is working with the relevant trustees to bring about urgently needed improvements in halfway house availability, release procedures, and supervision of paroled inmates. In April, 1998, the DC Council passed a needed bill (12-523) containing the recommendations of the federal Truth-in-Sentencing Commission--after considerable local opposition.

This page was updated on October 2, 1998



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