Charles H. Ramsey
Chief of Police
Metropolitan Police Department
Chief Charles H. Ramsey delivered the following statement to the Council of the District of Columbia, Committee on the Judiciary, The Honorable Phil Mendelson, Chair, on October 5, 2005, at the Council Chamber, John A. Wilson Building, 1350 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Washington, DC.
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Chairman Mendelson, members of the Committee, staff and guests … thank you for the opportunity to participate in today’s public oversight hearing. As is customary, the text of my prepared remarks is being posted on the MPD website: mpdc.dc.gov
I want to first acknowledge the work of the Committee and the Council in your oversight role for enhancing community policing and neighborhood safety in our city. I especially want to thank you for the opportunity we had to meet with Councilmembers earlier this year to provide a detailed overview and update on our Policing for Prevention strategy. And I look forward to continuing that dialogue today and into the future.
My testimony today provides an update on the ongoing evolution of Policing for Prevention in the District of Columbia – in particular, our experiences following the realignment of the Police Service Area, or PSA, boundaries in the spring of 2004. I will also offer some comments on the Community Protection Act of 2005, which is now before the Committee.
As you know, the PSA concept was first introduced in the District of Columbia in June 1997, about a year before I was appointed Chief of Police. During the first several months of my tenure, our Department focused heavily on putting some vision, direction and substance behind the PSA concept. The result was our comprehensive strategy of community policing, what we call Policing for Prevention. In the ensuing years, we have continued to evaluate, refine and improve upon our strategy. For example, we instituted the innovative “Partnerships for Problem Solving” community training program, to better support neighborhood partnerships. In 2002, to strengthen the focused law enforcement aspect of our strategy, we instituted Daily Crime Briefings in which crime patterns, resources and strategies are reviewed in a proactive and real-time basis. More recently, we created new opportunities for residents to get involved in Policing for Prevention, including district Listservs and our Senior Citizen Police Academy.
My point is that Policing for Prevention is a dynamic strategy, and we are committed to continually look for ways to enhance community policing and improve our performance. In calendar year 2004, official UCR crimes in the District dropped by 18 percent, and preliminary data for 2005 are showing another 9 percent reduction.
A major milestone in that process took place in May 2004, when our Department completed the first major realignment of the PSA boundaries since they were implemented back in 1997. This realignment followed an extensive period of community dialogue and input from Councilmembers and other community leaders. The resulting boundaries reduced the total number of PSAs from 83 to 44. More importantly, the new boundaries united within the same PSA communities that had previously been split up among multiple PSAs. And in some cases, new district boundaries united communities of interest that had been split among different police districts – for example, several Northwest neighborhoods with significant numbers of Latino residents were brought together in the reconfigured Third District.
Since May 2004, we have continued to evaluate – and, when necessary, adjust – the PSA boundaries to better support community policing. Shortly after the new boundaries were announced, we created an additional PSA in the Sixth District when it became clear that the original PSA was too large and diverse to support a single PSA. We are completing the same process in PSA 502, and will shortly be creating a new PSA in the Fifth District. So while our Department is committed to the principles behind the current PSA structure, we remain flexible in how best to implement community policing in our neighborhoods.