I have carefully considered all of the varying points of view that
constituents have expressed to me concerning Chief Ramsey. I have felt
quite divided about this issue, as there have been valid points made on
both sides. My record has been clear: I have pressed throughout my term
of office for better policing, in terms of both quantity and quality.
The issue before the Council is a simple one: Should Chief Ramsey's
salary be increased by $25,000, after having served since 1998 without
any salary increases? It was not approval of his contract, nor were his
contract benefits before us. The benefit proposal as you may know, has
been withdrawn for lack of Council support.
I have decided to support this salary increase.
In reaching this conclusion, I am influenced by the progress made thus
far, even though we have not achieved solutions to the challenges that
we face. We have still a great deal of work to do in reducing and
solving crime. But the progress that has been made is nevertheless
solid progress, as reflected by these positive changes in Ward One:
* A new police substation at 750 Park Road, NW. Working
with me, Chief Ramsey has opened a new substation with 80 - 90 officers
that greatly benefit Ward One neighborhoods from Park View to Mt.
* A new Latino Liaison Unit. Working with me, Chief
Ramsey created this unit and located it at 18th Street and Columbia
Road, staffed by seven officers and two detectives, who speak Spanish
and are culturally competent to address the public safety needs of the
Latino community especially in Ward One, where the largest concentration
of Latinos reside in the District. These officers also do other police
work and as such have enhanced police deployment.
* More police for Ward One. Chief Ramsey has promised me
higher police deployment in our neighborhoods. Many Ward One
neighborhoods are clearly justified in getting more police. That
includes those areas of Ward One, which have challenging crime
situations. It also includes neighborhoods, such as Adams Morgan and U
Street, which each weekend are the destination for thousands of tourists
for whom additional police forces are required.
* New Commander for Third District. Chief Ramsey has
improved our police leadership through his appointment of Commander
Larry McCoy, who has 25 years of experience in the police department.
Commander McCoy previously headed the Fourth District, and so his
appointment to the Third District takes advantage of his experience in
areas of Ward One that hopefully will soon be transferred from 4D to a
new consolidated 3D.
* A combined police district for Ward One. In response to
my request, Chief Ramsey will eliminate the current, harmful dividing
line between the Third and Fourth Districts at Harvard Street, NW. This
important change will aid in more seamless police deployment by placing
Ward One within a single police district.
* Combined PSAs. In response to my request, Adams Morgan
will no longer be split into three PSAs and will soon be consolidated
into a single PSA.
* More new officers for PSAs. Chief Ramsey has agreed to
assign the additional 175 officers authorized by the Council in the FY
'04 budget to be deployed throughout the PSAs. This will translate into
increased police visibility.
Finally we must recognize that our frustration with the police involves
more than police issues. For example, we must do a better job of
educating, training and occupying our youth. So too, we must have more
aggressive and efficient substance abuse intervention and treatment.
The Chief cannot be the repository for all our frustrations with crime.
That is why I have worked hard to improve our schools and recreation
centers. That is why I have worked to put into place a Ward One summer
youth employment program, which today has hired some 750 young people.
Chief Ramsey intends on completing these promised changes by the end of
September. Nevertheless, I plan on continuing to hold Chief Ramsey
accountable and to press for more changes, especially to fight the
recent increase in neighborhood crime and to deal with chronic
operational issues within MPD, such as 911, 311, and the loss of police
presence caused by leave or court appearances. I will continue to fight
for all this, as I have in the past.
In closing, let me say that those who have opposed this increase, and
other benefits, have sent a strong message to the Mayor and to the
Chief. I am certain that all of that already has had a beneficial
Bests, Councilmember Jim Graham