Metropolitan Police Department
Margaret Poethig delivered the following statement to the Committee on Education, Libraries and Recreation, the Honorable Kathy Patterson, Chair, and the Committee on the Judiciary, the Honorable Phil Mendleson, Chair, on May 23, 2005, at the Council of the District of Columbia, Council Chamber, John A. Wilson Building, 1350 Pennsylvania Avenue, Washington, DC.
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Chairpersons Patterson and Mendelson, members of the Committees and the Council, staff and guests – thank you for holding this Joint Public Roundtable on School Safety and Security. And thank you for the opportunity to present this opening statement. For the benefit of the audience watching on Channel 13 and others, my testimony is posted on the Police Department’s website: www.mpdc.dc.gov.
First let me introduce myself and my colleagues at the table. My name is Margaret Poethig, and I am the Deputy Chief Administrative Officer in the Metropolitan Police Department. I led the school safety planning efforts and the security guard contract procurement process for the Department during the past year under the leadership and direction of Mayor Williams, City Administrator Bobb, Deputy Mayor Reiskin and Chief Ramsey. With me today are Assistant Chief Gerald Wilson and Cheryl Mitchell. Chief Wilson was recently sworn in to head up MPD’s new Office of Security Services, which includes the School Safety Division. Cheryl Mitchell is the MPD’s Director of Administration. She was involved in the security guard contract procurement process and will be overseeing technical monitoring of the contract. These two senior members will be sharing the responsibility of delivering high quality safety and security services to the District of Columbia Public Schools.
The School Safety and Security Contracting Procedures Act of 2004, which went into effect in April of 2005, transfers the responsibility for the school safety function and oversight of the school security guard contract to the MPD on July 1, 2005, pending approval by the Council of a comprehensive implementation plan. Today’s roundtable provides an opportunity for the MPD to answer your questions about the proposed contract and the implementation plan.
Let me begin by describing how MPD is organized to manage this new function. As required by the School Safety Act, the MPD established a School Safety Division, headed by an Assistant Chief who reports directly to the Chief of Police. This Division is being staffed with a captain, three lieutenants, and a sergeant, who will provide strategic support and functional oversight of the school safety program and security services. Also based at police headquarters is the contract administration function within the Office of Corporate Support. Staffed by the Contracting Officer’s Technical Representative and a small team of contract monitors, this unit will process requests for contract guard services from DCPS, review invoices, investigate deficiency notices, and conduct quality assurance checks in the field. They will work closely with the contractor and the School Safety Division to ensure that the technical requirements and standards of the contract are being met.
The direct services at DCPS locations will be carried out by 99 School Resource Officers, 14 SRO Sergeants, and contract guards. Based on a risk analysis the MPD conducted in 2004, SROs have been assigned to middle, junior, and senior high schools throughout the District. All of these schools have at least one SRO; those deemed to be at the highest risk have several officers. School Resource Officers and their sergeants provide a uniformed police presence during school hours and after-school events and will have an important role in monitoring the day-to-day activities and performance of contract personnel. They will also be responsible, under the direction of the School Safety Division, for implementing a school safety program at the school to which they are assigned in coordination with the principal.
From the tragic shooting death of James Richardson inside Ballou Senior High School 15 months ago to any number of other incidents of school violence, we know that crime problems in our neighborhoods often end up in our schools – and vice versa. The MPD is working hard to prevent this spill-over of crime between schools and neighborhoods by fully integrating school safety into our broader strategy of community policing, “Policing for Prevention.” For that reason the Regional Operations Commands and Police Districts also have a central role in the school safety program.