Charles H. Ramsey
Chief of Police
Metropolitan Police Department
Police Chief Charles H. Ramsey delivered the following statement to the Committee on Judiciary, the Honorable Phil Mendleson, Chair, on May 31, 2005, at the Council of the District of Columbia, Council Chamber, John A. Wilson Building, 1350 Pennsylvania Avenue, Washington, DC.
- Download* a printable version of the testimony
Mister Chairman, members of the Committee, staff and guests … thank you for the opportunity to present this testimony concerning the Mayor’s “Omnibus Public Safety Act of 2005.” As is customary, the text of my prepared remarks will be posted on the MPD website: http://www.mpdc.dc.gov/.
As we have reported on several occasions to the Committee and the Council, crime in the District of Columbia is down – and it is down significantly. So far this year, serious crime has declined by 14 percent when compared with the same period last year, and homicides are down more than 17 percent. This follows reductions of 18 percent in serious crime, and 20 percent in homicides, during 2004.
The bottom line is that – thanks to the leadership of Mayor Williams, the support of the Council, and the hard work of our police officers and our partners in the community – DC’s neighborhoods are safer today than they have been in many years. The homicide this weekend of 17-year-old Andre Belton in Sursum Corda reminds us that we must all remain vigilant when it comes to violent crime and our youth. But with the help of the Omnibus Act before you today, I believe we can make our communities and our young people even safer in the future.
Even as encouraging as the crime statistics are, I realize that if you are a resident of DC and there is still regular gunfire on your block, or prostitutes congregating on your corner or in your alley, or cars being stolen by juveniles or other thieves … then all the statistics in the world don’t matter. You do not feel safe. And, therefore, you are not safe.
The goal of the Metropolitan Police Department is to ensure that all neighborhoods, all blocks, can take part in the public safety renaissance that is occurring in so many of our communities. And we have developed a number of strategies and initiatives to help us reach that goal. But fighting crime is not a static process or a one-size-fits-all approach. To stay ahead of the problem, the police need a variety of tools at our disposal – tools that help us hold offenders accountable and protect our residents, in particular the most vulnerable in our community. The Omnibus Public Safety Act of 2005 provides the MPD with important new tools to fight crime and protect the vulnerable. And I firmly believe that enactment of the law will help the District build upon the public safety gains of the last few years.