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Washington Metropolitan Police Department

Please also see: Police Service Area 108's Crime Page.

Last updated 15 June 1998

"A Fresh Start"
Acting Police-Chief Proctor Reorganizes Top Brass

3 January 1998
We now begin a new year, and I have begun a new page. This page will deal with 1998 coverage of the Washington, DC Metropolitan Police Department.

Last year, a confluence of historic, economic and governmental forces essentially forced a restructuring of the government of the City of Washington, DC. Decades of mismanagement forced change after change, with the most visible changes taking place within the Metropolitan Police. For more-complete coverage, please see the 1997 Washington DC Page. The changes, which are ongoing, dealt with not only chronic problems engrained in the institution, but also with acute incidents, leading to massive restructurings of the top-brass levels of the District Police. 1997 saw the emergence of information which indicated entrenched corruption, sloth and occasionally abysmal incompetence in the Homicide Division, and entire chains-of-command have been re-assigned, dismissed outright, or forced into early retirement or resignation-under-pressure. This included the Chief of Police, Larry Soulsby. Our new Acting Chief of Police, one Sonya T. Proctor, is continuing her efforts to rebuild the reputation of the Metropolitan Police Department, which was at one time regarded as the pride of the Nation but which has, due to recent events and disclosures, sufferd an extreme crisis of public-confidence.

An nationwide search is now underway for a permanent Chief of Police. Ms Proctor is under consideration for the position. She notes that whether or not she is confirmed in her position, or will be working under a new chief selected from outside of Washington, she intends to stick with the force and do her best to "do the right thing".

Among her goals, which received high praise from all ranks of City officialdom, included:

It must be noted that as regards community outreach and zero-tolerance policies for minor crime, this approach has been credited as a major force in the recent extreme reduction of crime in New York City. Consistent enforcement of minor infractions has tended to get persons who would commit major offenses off of the street.

Acting-Chief Proctor notes that many forces, including a nationwide drop in reported crimes, in particular violent crimes, has been reflected into the District as well.

Crimes against property have declined by roughly one-quarter, and assaults with deadly weapons was down by 9 percent.

In 1997, for instance, for the first time in decades, the District reported less than one murder-per-day on average. Last year, there were only 301 deaths in the District which were classified as homicides. There is, however, an extreme and ongoing problem with the Medical Examiner's office, which has very substandard facilities and is grossly understaffed. It has been derided as essentially a laughingstock in the profession, by national-level forensic pathologists. There has been, and there is ongoing, considerable debate as to the District's criteria for classification of deaths as "undetermined", which should more-probably be considered murders. The reported murder figures for the District may be somewhat skewed by this discrepancy in reporting. But there is no question that a vastly-increased police presence on Washington's streets over the last four months has greatly reduced the former open-warfare situation in the District's streets to a more sedate and orderly state. At long last, criminals are starting to think twice about pulling out a pistol and gunning people down. When at last the DC Medical Examiner's Office is brought up to civilized standards, they might have to think twice about using other technologies to settle beefs, as well.

Acting Chief Proctor announced 2 January 1998 that she was reassigning some of her top brass. The new positions are

MPD to Re-Centralize Homicide Division
Decentralization Resulted in Compartmentalization

The Metropolitan Police Department has decided to reverse the Homicide Department's decentralization policy.

The decentralization, which occurred starting 1 July 1997 under the leadership of then-chief Larry Soulsby, was intended to better-familiarize homicide officers with the communities in which they'd be conducting investigations. However, it seems that a great many homicides are solved by a wide sharing of information throughout the homicide department, quite often through informal "kibitzing" where elements of one case suddenly mesh with elements of another case, leading to sudden and unexpected mergers of disparate trails of evidence and circumstance, leading to case-solving.

Smaller, widely-deployed units have indeed increased detective familiarity with their "turfs" but have also apparently resulted in compartmentalization of information, since there are now few opportunities for "kibitzing", in effect leading to an unintended "compartmentalization of information". Also, the small size of the decentralized units has decreased the numbers of investigators available to respond to any given homicide. Under centralized conditions, as many as ten investigators might be available to respond to any given homicide and thus one investogator might follow each particular aspect of thread of investigation, such as collecting witness statements, checking background, next-of-kin notification, and so forth - but under decentralization, there were on any given shift too-few investigators for a full division of these tasks, and thus one investigator might find himself following several different threads and being unable to fully devote themselves to complete execution of any given thread.

Evidently this is leading to considerable burnout of investigators. Even though overtime is presently restricted (and high-scrutinized after the immense overtime-scam of last fall), intense caseloading and understaffing are taking their toll.

There will remain some degree of decentralization, as there have been positive aspects of the move, mostly due to increased familiarity with the locales and the "characters" in those locales. However, these benefits are outweighed somewhat by the factors of compartmentalization-of-information and of overwork in the various police districts.

Arrest Made for 2 Petworth Killings
DNA Testing Matched

The District of Columbia Metropolitan Police Department, in 28 January 1998, charged Darryl Donnell Turner, of Princeton Place NW in the Petworth neighborhood, with the murders of Jacqueline Teresa Birch (age 39) and Dana Hill (age 34).

Turner arrived in Washington roughly eight years ago, and was for several years one of the many homeless. That changed when he got married. Turner is presently unemployed.

Princeton Place NW, at the heart of the troubled Petworth neighborhood, has been the center of a cluster of at least six homicides recently. Long-devastated by Metrorail construction, the weakened neighborhood social structure bacame a playground of sorts for the outcasts and underclass. the alleys became overgrown jungles of waste, wreckage, disabled vehicles, and many vacant buildings have become overrun with squatters, and often were also "shooting galleries" where dopers gather to partake, and women trade their bodies for just one more hit. The city is cleaning up this mess as of now, but before there was awareness that this seemed to be the stalking grounds of a serial killer, the "squats" were piled high with filth, garbage, and old mattresses pulled from the dumpsters for the use of the "crack whores" (as they are known in the local slang). Human waste, along with an HIV-infected gantlet of discarded heroin syringes, is another hazard to the unwary.

Turner was charged with these two murders after DNA samples obtained from him matched the DNA of semen found in the bodies of the two victims.

Turner's attorney is quick to point out that the fact that he had sex with these women, and that they were killed shortly thereafter, does not necessarily mean that Turner was the killer. The other four victims were not so easily checked for evidence. Possibly the most compelling evidence to implicate Turner is almost completely circumstantial and cannot as-yet be forensically linked to him. The body was found beneath a crawlspace of a building adjacent to Turner's residence, however the state of decomposition at the time of discovery was so advanced as to preclude reliable DNA testing.

Police are quick to note that they are pursuing other investigatory angles. It is after all quite possible that Turner actually did only have sex with the women, and that they were later killed by another person or persons. Sex, drugs, and violence go together hand-in-hand in endlessly repeated cycles of viciousness in the streets of Petworth. It's not at all uncommon for a woman to prostitute herself to several different men per night, moving to the one who has drugs now, to move on to another when that man's supply runs out. It is quite possible that the dead women had sex with several different men that night, but so far, of those men, only Turner has so-far been found, to give a sample of DNA which matched the a fraction of the semen in the women.

It is also quite possible that one or more of the women whose deaths comprise the cluster centered around Petworth, were murdered by different men. As lowly and despicable as might be a homeless alley junkie, they can and do despise the "crack whores" and months or years of desparation, abuse, and being reviled quite-commonly pushes men to the breaking point, which threshold might well have been for most of these men, already fairly low. Considering to what degree such persons had taken up residence in the alleys outside the homes of Petworth, one might statistically suspect that there might be very many such men quite close to the edge, and such a concentration of desperation and filth in one smallish neighborhood might well have caused six separate murders to appear to be the geographical clustering of a serial-killer.

If this is the case, than no single individual will stand revealed as the Petworth killer... the killer will stand revealed, rather, as Petworth itself.

Police-Chief Candidates Field Narrows
Mayor Barry to Select Candidate "Soon"

Mayor Marion Barry is narrowing the field of applicants for the vacant position of Chief of the Metropolitan Police Department. The position has been vacant since Chief Larry Soulsbly resigned under increasing pressure following the Federal indictment of his room-mate, Jeffrey Stowe, on charges including embezzlement from the Witnes Protection funds, misuse of police facilities and equipment and also of attempting to extort money fropm married gay men who were tracked at local gay-bars.

One Sonya T. Proctor has been serving as Acting Chief, and by all accounts, has been doing a fine job. However mthere does seem to be some concensus among observers nationwide that in systems which are plagued by either corruption, or by suspicion of corruption, new management should be brought in from outside the department. Acting Chief Proctor is, by many accounts, already something of an outsider within the MPD. Well-respected as a competent and no-nonsense officer who rose through the ranks on the basis of diligence and perseverance, she is still regarded by many officers as being less than personable, and somewhat aloof. In the present culture of Washington City Government, this can only be seen as an asset when it comes to rooting out corruption or the appearance of corruption. However, as a lifelong District resident, she might be presumed to inject local attitude and city political rationales into any decisions.

A nationwide "talent-search" has been ongoing for some time. Among those tapped for a shot at the position was former Chief Richard Pennington, who left Washington to take over the New Orleans police force. At the time, the NOPD was considered possibly the most corrupt of any US major-city police forces, and the Department of Justice and the FBI brought to light case after case of corruption, of both endemic entrenched and the equally-endemic freelance variety. Working closely with Chief Pennington was the FBI's James Desarno, a deputy director of the top-rate Criminal Justice Information Center. While Chief Pennington has expressed a desire to finish the job he's started with cleaning up New Orleans, Desarno reportedly is very interested in moving into the position of Chief of the MPD. His close alliances with Pennington (and Pennington's invaluable insights into the inner workings of the MPD) would combine with his experience both a CJIC and his experience working with an FBI task force investigating campaign-contribution irregularities in the District. In a city driven to the brink of total collapse by the Barry-Cronies (tm) administration there might be few possible better choices.

Yet due to a loophole in the DCFRA Control Board's mandate, the one person who could be considered ultimately most-responsible for any corruption that does exist in the City of Washington or its police department, Mayor Marion Barry, is responsible for the final selection of the candidate for Chief of Police. Mayor Barry does not run the department any longer, in fact that was one of the first major Departments stripped from his control by the DCFRA in the state of near-emergency that existed throughout 1996 and 1997 - however, he does retain the power to select the new police chief.

Correction to previous substantive error:

Among others who have indicated interest in the position are former Los Angeles Police Chief Willie Williams. He's certainly experienced at running a large metropolitan police force, having been the successor to Daryl F. Gates, under whose leadership the LA force acquired a reputation for open racism, culminating in the Rodney King beatings and subsequent riots, after which Williams was appointed.

Another candidate is former New York police commissioner William Bratton, by all accounts a major modernizing force in that city's comeback from a state of crime-ridden chaos, and also Charleston SC police chief Reuben Greenberg. Greenberg did not apply for the position, but he has been sought-after by the executive-search agency, Norman Roberts Co., which was retained for the talent-search, as a top-flight potential candidate.

Other News

Also, on a note of closure, or lack thereof, last fall after the discovery that one Captain Alan Dreher had for over a year "sat on" a report by the National Drug Intelligence Center which (had it been acted-upon immediately) might have closed something like half of the older murder cases, a task-force was created to follow up on those leads. But the iron was not struck while hot, and to date, only 8 of some 107 remaining killings have been "closed".

More Police Shake-Ups
Acting Chief Proctor Fires Three District Commanders

22 February 1998
On Friday 13 February 1998, Acting Chief of Police Sonya T. Proctor dismissed three top veterans of the Metropolitan Police Department.

Retiring under duress were Commander Reggie Smith, Commander Winfred Stanley, and Commander John C. Daniels.

Smith, a 27-year veteran of the force, has for the last two years commanded the 5th District in Northeast Washington, where over the last year there has been a drop in reported crime of nearly 50 percent. Stanley, also with the force for 27 years, was head of the 3rd District, in Northwest Washington, in roughly the Adams-Morgan area, where reported crime dropped by some 18 percent. Daniels, also with the force for 27 years, was head of the 6th District in Southease and Northeast Washington, where crime was reported down by about 19 percent.

Proctor has made quite a few personnel changes since she acceded to leadership roughly Thanksgiving of 1997, after the abrupt resignation of chief Larry Soulsby in the midst of a mounting scandal regarding widespread corruption in the police department. Among other moves, appointed to the position of inspector are: Joseph J. Adamany; Lloyd L. Coward; William P. McManus; and Stanley Wigenton. Promoted to positions of captain are: Jose Acosta; Brian Jordan; and Michael J. Radzilowski.

Some demotions or "lateral transfers" have also occurred under Proctor's leadership, most notably the transfer of Assistant Chief Rodney Monroe from the helm of Patrol Services to a position at Support Services. He was replaced by a longtime friend of Proctor, one Assistant Chief Robert C. White, a former commander of the 4th District who had retired in 1995. Proctor has also promoted one Commander Ross Swope to the helm of the Homicide Division.

The the middle of the next week, a storm of protest and generic outrage had begun to swirl around these personnel changes. One Leroy Thorpe (Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner and police critic) said that he had seen this coming, having stated that he was of the opinion that Sonya Proctor had a problem with black males and was insecure, and further says that the black men that he named as being good police officials are the exact men that Proctor singled out for dismissals. Proctor herself is black.

Further, newly-declared Mayoral candidate Kevin P. Chavous (Ward 7 Democrat) quickly questioned the legitimacy of the ousters, noting the crime-reduction figures in the Police Districts headed by the ousted officials. Proctor was also denounced for having fired the three men without any input from any of the local lawmakers or advisory councils.

The strongest and most legitimate criticisms of Proctor's personnel changes have been those which pivot around her own possibly-temporary position as Acting Chief. At this time, there is a "short-list" of candidates awaiting final selection by Mayor Barry and the "Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) Partners. Most critics believe that any personnel changes such as have been made by Proctor ought to be made by the new Chief. Proctor herself is on the short-list, but there is a wide consensus throughout most levels of government and also throughout the national police-management communities that when a department is considered corrupt, any housecleaning is best done by a complete stranger to the department, someone hired from the outside. But Proctor has long been considered an outsider by many in the force, and often has been characterized as aloof and stand-offish, and while none have had any complaints about her performance, she has also been characterized as "not a team player". However, in a police department considered by many to be tainted by corruption throughout all levels of management and through many levels of the "harness bulls" or street-level officers, being "not a team player" could be considered as a compliment indicating that she might be one of the few totally-clean cops in Washington. She was certainly respected as a competent commander when she was in charge of the 3rd District, gaining a reputation as a solid administrator with a high regard to human and civil rights.

Proctor defended her actions by saying that the issues were not political issues, but performance issues: "It's how the department delivers its services". She had earlier stated that she never intended to be a mere caretaker or "placeholder" in this position but would instead be very active and has taken a very strong position against corruption in the department. She'd also stated recently that she was concerned with moving the department in a new direction. The exact direction has not yet been specified.

Serial Killer Still At Large?
Police Reform Still Not Up To Speed

24 March 1998
2 February 1998 we noted that the Metropolitan Police Department had made an arrest in the mysterious series of murders in the Petworth neighborhood.

Prior to the arrest, amid widespread public speculation that there was a bona-fide serial killer operating in the area, police oficials had made statements that they did not believe that the series of six known deaths was the work of a single killer, but possibly the work of two or more killers, who simply operated in the same territory with similar modi-operandi. But after the arrest, police and prosecutors appeared to be convinced that they had indeed apprehended a person who they expected to prove as the responsible actor.

While there are powerful circumstantial linkages between the arrested party and two of the victims, little evidence has been made public linking the arrestee, one Darryl Donnell Turner, of Princeton Place NW in the Petworth neighborhood, with the other murders in a similar modus-operandum.

Turner's attorney states that Turner did indeed have sex with the murdered women, leading to the best of the circumstantial evidence for the charges of murder, semen which is a DNA-testing matches to Turner.

However, one of the best means for tracking and identifying serial killers, through a process of elimination involving checking which persons fitting "profile" could not have committed the crime due to that best of alibis, being locked up in jail elsewhere, is tending to eliminate Turner as the sole actor in this series of similar murders of similar victims. Turner is still in jail awaiting trial with no possibility of bond.

And yesterday, for the second time in four months, in the same apartment complex near Mount Vernon Square NW, a woman has been found dead, naked from the waist down.

Serial killers quite frequently target prostitutes or promiscuous women. It's a very classic profile. Another classic of serial killer mentation is that they are often quite scornful of police. According to an article in the Washington Post Metro section on 2 March 1998, they may have had some cause to be scornful. The Post article indicates that even after police had begun to focus their investigation upon Turner (25 November 1997), he had allegedly killed the second woman with whose death he as charged (1 December 1997), and also allegedly sexually-assaulted another woman (a former girlfriend, 25 January 1998).

Some of the murdered women lived a lifestyle characterized as "crack whores", and police are as a rule reluctant to care much about them. They, and other "ladies of easy virtue" are not a policeman's favorite custimer, as they may be one day arrested for solicitation, on another for minor or major drug charges, and may the next day make a complaint over violence done them by their pimp, rivals, associates, dealers or customers. Their life is not an easy one, nor is the life of any officer who allows himself to regard them as anything other than royal pains. In fact, early on in the Petworth killings investigation, one officer was brought to task when he, at a community meeting, referred to the victims as "crack whores". Held in the disregard of the police, they make the ideal victim. Murderous psychoses aside, this is one of the reasons that they are one of the most common targets of serial killers.

The site of the second murder, or at least the location where the body was found, was a stairwell inside the Mount Vernon Plaza apartments at 10th and "M" Streets NW. This is not far from the Mt. Vernon Square or the extant Convention Center, both favorite stomping grounds for local prostitutes. A few blocks away is the start of some particularly grim and grimy housing around 7th Street and New York Avenue NW. This, like the Petworth neighborhood, is a zone infested with poverty and filth, with the traditional "rats as big as cats", trash-strewn alleys, decaying city properties and ubiquitous skulker in the dark.

The Shaw Neighborhood (of which this is the southern end) has long been one of the more blighted landscapes to which dismayed locals may point when decrying the magnitude of the contrasts between Federal Washington's icons of national grandeur and the decay and dissolution of the city proper. Not far from the site of the murdfer is the infamous "Graveyard of the Ho's", where the AIDS-infected transvestite streetwalkers ply their decadent trade. The rest of the neighborhood is not that much more lively. However, there are always those decent and respectable people who like to live close to their jobs. And according to an article in today's Post, they are increasingly at risk of being mistaken for the preferred targets of those who prey upon the destitute, the addicted, and the prostitutes. The Post notes that on 8 August 1997, a resident in the Mount Vernon Square apartments was accosted at knifepoint and strangled unconscious in the building's supposedly-secure parking garage, leading some to believe that the perpetrators (presumably one and the same) of the two murders at the location might be local to the complex, perhaps a resident or associated with the management.

The MPD took a report of this and classified it as a robbery with a knife. One hopes that they will look into similarly-described crimes and see if they can develop a pattern out of this. It may indeed eventually be discovered that Turner, charged with some of the murders in Petworth, was indeed just a local sex-fiend taking advantage of the local "crack-whores" in Petworth... and after he was done with them, they walked straight into the strangler's hands.

Police Improvements Still Insufficient

When the DCFRA Control Board assumed almost total control of the Metropolitan Police Department, the state of afairs was such that only one out of ten officers had actually written a ticket or made an arrest, with most officers simply not out on a beat. Also, the police fleet was grossly disabled, with half of the cars inoperable or nearly inoperable due to poor maintenance, with the evidence facility characterized as "a shambles" and the information and communications system for the entire force was "antiquated, where functional at all". More details may be seen on the 1997 Washington, Not a pretty Site Page.

The Federal government and the Control board responded by pumping a vast amount of money into the system. This has indeed immensely revitalized the police fleet, with new cruisers seen everywhere, complete with spiffed-up paint jobs and a new color scheme. Officers do have better communications, though they are said to be still a generation behind the standards of other American police forces.

The City of Washington has long been plagued by a systemic sloth when it comes to securing the vast resources of the Federal Government, which extends to all cities and communities certain grants. All one need really do is to apply for them, and to document the expenditures. Washington has in the past proved to be largely incompetent at both filling out the paperwork to secure the grants, and in documenting the expenditures. Recent changes have to some degree ameliorated this trend. Unfortunately, there has also been a systematic failure, once the money has been secured, to allocate it properly, or to assure procurement and delivery of the goods for which those grants have made. Quite commonly during the two decades of the Barry-Cronies(tm) administrations, funds granted to one City Agency have wound up being "slushed" into other agencies, where questionable book-keeping practices have resulted in all of that money vanishing into a black hole of utter unaccountability.

Some agencies have made great strides in improving their grants-application, procurement, and documentation processes, but the Metropolitan Police Department is not one of them. Rocked by scandal late last year, with some homicide detectives scamming twice their annual salary in overtime, with the indictment of the roommate of then-chief Larry Soulsby on extortion charges and charges of misuse of department facilities and equipment and embezzlement of police funds, the Department has come under intense scrutiny from various legal and community organizations. It is probably due only to this scrutiny that we now find that in fiscal 1997 (which ended on 30 September 1997), the Department failed to spend nearly two-fifths of the special grants monies allocated to it.

According to the Post reporting of Department-furnished records:

More problematic are Department of Justice grants:

It is in this last area that some most find fault with the change of pace in the Metropolitan PD. Where last year there were only one in ten officers out on the street providing on-the-spot police services, now only half of the sworn and armed officers are out in what are known as Patrol Service Areas or PSAs.

The Department had within the last year switched over from a system of 138 patrol-car areas to a system of 83 PSAs. There has been an increase of both bicycle and foot patrols within the District. Citizens, however, still are reportedly unsatisfied with the level of police presence.

Of the approximately $11 millions of grants monies left unspent from the former fiscal year, the vast majority of it is earmarked for improved telecommunications systems.

It must be noted here that at this time, there are three finalists in the competition for selection as the new chief of Police in the District. Acting Chief Sonya Proctor, a lifelong resident of the District who has worked her way up from the lowest ranks as one of the first female officers assigned to street patrols, having served many yers in the Internal Affairs division, remains in the running.

Another finalist, Richard Pennington, presently Chief of the New Orleans police, was a longtime veteran of the District's force. He is credited with a stunning turnaround of the New Orleans department, at one time racked by corruption including officers who ran drug rings and acted as hitmen for their own operations. New Orleans' force is consider by some to be a model of what can be done by bringing in an outsider to tackle the job of turning a corruption and crime-ridden department into a national exemplar. New Orleans, once considered one of the country's most dangerous cities (right behind Washington DC) with (right behind Washington DC) the worst homicide case-closure rates, now has a homicide closure rate approaching 80 percent, higher than the national average. Washington's case closure rate remains appallingly low, having fallen to roughly 30 percent in the last year.

The third finalist is Charles Ramsey, currently Chicago's number-two cop. He's famous for his extremely tight focus on community policing. A 26-year veteran of Chicago's force, he is very highly admired and respected by his fellow officers. He also has a high interest in research and development in forensics and prevention and has authored a book on community policing strategies and departmental re-invention.

Community policing has not been much of a success in Washington, where for long years the police have been regarded with little fear by many of the criminal element, and distrusted widely by the average citizen. There has been a great deal of alienation and estrangement between to officers and those whom they are charged to protect. The whole problem has been generally decribed as a "failure to communicate" compounded by a perception that "no good deed goes unpunished" both inside and outside the Department.

Once selection of the new Chief has been made, and they assume the reins of control, in all cases expect further deployments of officers to the streets, and also expect that the incoming chief will have their own approach to spending the unspent grants on (ideally) completely discarding the old info-comm systems and implimenting a new and forward-looking system which can be modularly modernized as circumstances and funding permits.

Final Candidate for Chief of Police Selected
Chicago's Finest Tapped for Rebuilding Role

The final pick is in. The Chicago police department's number two man has been chosen, pending confirmation hearings, for the position of top cop in the "dysfunctional" (to use his own words) District of Columbia Metropolitan Police Department.

Charles H. Ramsey was selected last week, after certain remarks by Senator Lauch Faircloth (a power to be reckoned with in the District Revitalization effort) caused former MPD officer Richard Pennington to drop out of the competition. Pennington was considered by many to be a top flight officer, and some have suggested that it may have been frictions with Mayor Marion Barry which caused Pennington to depart the MPD for the New Orleans force, where he has been instrumental in cleaning up endemic corruption.

Ramsey is still due for confirmation hearings later this month, but if he is indeed confirmed, he's stated that he believes that fixing the District's embattled force will be a long-haul job. While standing firmly behind the police officer on the street, he finds fault with the organizational systems, with service delivery. Ramsey has declared that he intends to embark upon a studied reassessment of department goals and procedures, and to take a very studied and deliberate approach to management, eschewing mere crisis reaction modes.

Acting Chief Sonya T. Proctor has pledged herself to assisting the incoming chief in any way she can.

It's been a long time since we did anything with this page - we've got a lot of catching up to do.

26 April 1998 through 23 May 1998

Washington Still The Murder Capital
New Chief of Police Selected, Sworn-In

No Virginia, it's still not safe to let your children, nor your adults, nor for that matter anyone, play in the District.

Washington remains the deadliest city of any real size within the United States. According to an article in the 19 April 1998 Washington Post, the District has a murder rate more than double that of New York City or Philadephia, both of which cities have long had worldwide reputations as being extremely violent. The only city that came close in per-capita murder rate was Detroit. Washington as a city has a murder rate almost exactly six times the national average. According to former US Attorney for the District, Joseph E. deGenova, "[t]he police department's performance in fighting homicide has ben so bad for so long that it invites lawlessness." We concur, and have repeatedly said as much, for years. Washington has been for at least a decade as close as one comes to the state of (using the word in the ideological political sense) Pure Anarchy. One stays alive only because one doesn't come out, or because one is exceptionally polite, or because one picks only unarmed victims. Most people who notice this tend to move out of the District, which has lost one-sixth of its population within the last seven years. According to an unnamed National Institute of Justice official, as quoted by the Post, "[i]t's like a disease cycle, where you burn out all of the potential victims". Indeed, as statistics indicate, while the group most at risk of death-by-violence in Washington, young black males between the ages of 18 to 24 years, shrank by 44 percent over the first part of this decade, the numbers of murders rose to a level not seen in many active war zones. It may be that those who had no propensity for violence abandoned the town rather than become victims of it, leaving behind only the violent predators who increasingly began to battle one-another over turf. But strangely, this is not what one might expect. One might expect that known rivalries between gangsters who were known to one another would explode into deadly confrontations. Instead we see that in Washington some 96 percent of killings were at the hands of strangers. From this we infer that these are not gang rivalries as they are so commonly ascribed by the media; rather, this is a case of predators defending their turf against all outside intrusion which is capable of being perceived as a threat.

We note in passing that while the Metropolitan Police Department has attempted to take the majority of the credit for last year's decline in the raw numbers of homicides, in fact, half of the decrease can be attributed to increasingly proactive measures applied to the Public Housing projects which have fallen under the receivership of David I. Gilmore. Shortly after his being named as the receiver, he embarked upon many projects, one of which was the establishment of a 177-member police for for the agency. Charged solely with the preservation of law and order in the projects and contiguous properties, they have been able to develop a community focus which was not possible for the Metropolitan Police Department. We also note that despite the constantly falling population of the District itself, and the declining population of the unemployed and the continuing elimination of the Welfare lifestyle, the murder rate remains roughly the same once one recalculates taking these statistics into account.

While the population of young-adult black males continues to decline, largely through flight from the city, the population of "sub-adult" killers remains roughly the same, or rises somewhat, with a population explosion in the 12-18 years age-segment. (We also note in passing that since roughly 1984, the majority of births in any given year has usually been to unwed children, and thus probably a majority of this sub-adult class are from extremely disadvantaged and quite-likely dysfunctional family environments.) While District law forbids even law-abiding adults from even possessing a handgun, in some parts of town, possession of highpowered handguns by teens as young as 12 is not only commonplace, but probably more the rule than the exception to the rule. Extremely vicious career-criminal subadults themselves became commonplace, with only such heinous cases as the infamous "Little Man James" case being seen as newsworthy. As these superpredators have grown to adulthood during the last decade, they have moved from mere adult-class handgun violence into other venues of crime which require adult attributes such as motor-vehicle licenses and such other certifications as automatically redound to those who have reached the age of majority - and they enter their adult careers with perhaps as much as ten years of experience.

Again we must return to the theme of understanding recent history in the District of Columbia in terms of an ingoing insurgency engaged in (mostly) low-level conflict in pursuit of acquiring control of urban terrain.

During the mid and late 1980s, as crack cocaine swept the nation, in few places was it so rapidly deployed and so speedily and firmly entrenched as in Washington. While the District had always had a fairly extensive criminal subculture - to say nothing of the immense drug undergrounds whose subcultural domains extended far into the suburbs - at no previous time was the Mayor of any large city evidently operating in open support of a heavily-armed and extremely violent subcultural irruption. While Mayor Marion Barry was eventually arrested in 1990 in a videotaped "sting" operation by the FBI, with almost certain assistance from factions within the Metropolitan Police Department, the damage had been done. At the time of his arrest, the Mayor was partaking with a Federal informant and former sometimes lover, while his bodyguards were ordered to wait downstairs in the lobby of the Vista Hotel. In this breathtaking vista of the Mayor's private life, televised for all to see in all his tumescence and pecadillo, we saw evidence that the Mayor's use was no occasional matter, but that instead he was quite practiced in the art. Before his arrest, he was the subject of a local joke, which went: Q - have you been smoking crack with Mayor Barry? A - why not, everyone else does! Sad but true. As former FBI agent and DC police-issues authority Carl Rowan Jr says, "[t]he Mayor was palling around with suspected drug dealers, and all of the upper-echelon police appointees were political ... You tell me what message that sent to the cops?"

It probably didn't matter what message was sent to the cops, or at least not to a lot of them. As the wave of violence and murder grew to epic proportions, Congress passed legislation which required the practically-overnight hirings of nearly 1000 new police officers. Background-checking was spotty at best. More than 100 of the officers hired in this feeding-frenzy of personnel acquisition later went on to be arrested for everything from mere corruption through criminal association, through being narcotics "mules" to murder (and some allege that there was, and may still be, a political assassination wing within the MPD).

During the Cold War, it was a truism that the Communist Party absolutely desired to place loyalists in positions where they could control the selection of new hires, or effect the firings of individuals not amenable to the cause of the Party. We at Earth Operations Central remain convinced that if such a strategy was not consciously followed by the Barry-Cronies (tm) administration, the effect was precisely the same. In any case, rather than a Nation's Capital ruled by law, we saw an anarchy increasingly characterized by sloth, corruption, malfeasance, and above all, a Cult of Personality whereby the only hand at the helm was not that of law, nor certainly of Justice, but of Mayor-For-Life Marion Barry and his political appointees. Those decent officers in the force on whom we all depend were increasingly at the mercy of political appointees, many of whom have since been indicted for assorted criminal activities or abuse of their positions. In short, it is as if Mayor Barry could not have taken a more studied approach to filling the streets of Washington DC with well-armed young men while simultaneously hamstringing the entirety of the law-enforcement community in Washington. Essentially, Mayor Barry empowered no class of citizens, nor any class of guardians, but instead planted himself firmly on the side of an incoming cultural irruption at deadly crosspurposes to the citizenry, in effect opening wide the floodgates to an enemy invasion while reducing the army to unsupplied buffoons oficially mis-led by sympathizers to the invasion. We believe that only if one takes this outlook can one possibly impact the District's murder rate. God help us all had a real enemy embarked upon a mission of infiltrative insurgency, and low-intensity conflict in pursuit of acquiring the urban terrain of Washington; all they would have needed to do was to act as if they were law-abiding as regarded drugs and they would have been welcomed as liberators (no matter their hidden agendas) by the victims of what we shall hereinafter refer to as the Barryculture. We must stress here that being opposed to drugs does not mean that someone's good, let's just say that the Soviet Union never had any troubles with drugs and they weren't exactly dedicated to freedom and justice. On a note of closing we remark that it may be necessary to strategize against widespread crime and cultural irruption within the District in terms less paramilitary, and more in terms of the purely military.

New Police Chief Sworn In

Thus we see that the new chief of the District of Columbia Metropolitan Police Department has his work cut out for him. Not only must he deal with such factors as the entrenched Barryculture both within the MPD and outside in the killing-streets of Washington, but he must also deal with other factors as well, such as a completely deteriorated physical-plant at almost all of the police facilities. Also, despite immense allocations of funds directly from the Federal government to the MPD, required technology is unavailable. Information technology deployment within the MDP is appallingly low, with even such primitive-but-essential equipment such as FAX machines, cellular phones, and even long-distance telephone access largely unavailable. Many have expressed a great deal of concern and confusion as to why so little of the funds allocated to the police department has been spent. We have presumed so far that this was due to a reluctance to commit to expenditures until a permanent Chief of Police was selected and sworn-in.

Unanimously approved by the DC Council, on 21 April 1998, Charles H. Ramsey was sworn-in as Chief of Police. A career policeman from Chicago, with 28 years of service and a reputation of being worthy of the highest degree of loyalty by Chicago's Finest, Ramsey vowed to bring to Washington a police department "rooted in and guided by ... honesty, integrity, respect for one another and for the community, fairness, dedication, committment and accountability for individual actions and organizational results." Ramsey had early remarked that he believed that the major fault with the MPD was less one of the qualifications of the officers, or even the facilities or equipment (though we expect that this part of the assessment will rapidly change) than with the way that services are delivered. We note in passing that despite last-years' remarks by then-Chief Larry Soulsby (since resigned in the wake of disclosures that his roommate, then-Lt. Jeffrey Stowe, had misappropriated MPD funds and had been engaging in extortion) which had given the impression that many more District officers would be deployed from offices and onto the streets, this has in reality never happened. We hope that Chief Ramsey will make good on this promise of Soulsby's and will escalate the process of launching former desk-jockeys onto the streets. We also hope that he will make sure that the District's officers are qualiied to use their weapons. Recently, it was discovered that something like half of the District's officers had not passed their weapons qualifications.

Ramsey is particularly known for his formative expertise in the concept of "community policing" which practice has already resulted in a much higher perception of public safety in the Public Housing projects, where it has been implimented by that agency's in-house police force.

Mayor Marion Barry, who aided in the selection of Ramsey for the position of Chief of Police, evidently didn't read the fine print on Ramsey's contract. Barry had expected that, although Barry has been stripped of any direct control over the MPD by the DCFRA Control Board and Congressional action, the new Chief would be reporting primarily to Barry. However, as the contract states, the prime point of contact to higher authority is to be with Control Board Vice Chairman, Stephen D. Harlan. The District "corporate counsel", one John M. Ferren, has pronounced the contract "illegal" as the Mayor cannot delegate his authority to the Control Board. However, DC Council Member Jack Evans, a member of the Memorandum of Understanding (or MOU) Group, says, the Mayor is playing a dangerous game by inviting a congressional takeover. Congress, which has the sole ultimate authority over the District of Columbia under US Constitution Article I Section 8 Clause 17-18, can very easily write legislation which would place the police department under direct Federal control. In light of the Mayor's role in the irruption of the Barryculture of crime and violence during the 80s and early 90s, and also in view of the fact that Barry was explicitly stripped of power over the police department in an effort to reverse the effects of decades of political-appointments of incompetents, cronies and criminals to positions of power by Barry, we very much hope that Barry will be cut out of the loop on all police matters of greater importance than reviews of the month's Parking Enforcement totals. Jack Evans said: "I can tell you the police chief will not report to the mayor." We're sure that this view is shared by Senator Lauch Faircloth, the North Carolina Republican who chairs the powerful Senate Appropriations Committee for the District of Columbia. Senator Faircloth, among others, has recently been pressing for turning the District Police over to the Federal government. We ourselves beg to differ, if not with the approach then with the degree; see our remarks above which state that we are of the opinion that there may well be a future need for direct military action in and around the District of Columbia in order to dislodge the irruptive culture's toehold in the region. In any case, simply turning operational authority of the MPD over to Federal management might well be insufficient without concomitant massive personnel turnover. It would, however, be an excellent second step, with Ramsey's confirmation, as an outsider not linked to nor compromised by ties to local corruption, as a first step. Overhasty action against irruptive subculture might result in terroristic backlash, for which eventuality the US and in particular the Greater Washington Metropolitan Area is grossly underprepared, according to an interagency study as reported by the Post.

For what it's worth, in most of the Washington DC police districts, the closure rate on murder approaches 50 percent for the first time in years. National averages are generally in excess of 60 percent. For the District of Columbia, this is something of a stunning turnaround, with the exceptions of districts 6 and 7, which have murder case closure rates of, respectively, 8 percent and 25 percent. Note that these figures include only murders committed within the District of Columbia in 1998. Among other factors credited for the turnaround is a restructuring of the homicide division by Homocide commander Ross E. Swope.

Some time ago, in an an efort to get more community involvement from the police, then-chief Larry Soulsby distributed the homicide division to the various districts. Later, then-Acting-Chief Sonya T. Proctor re-consolidated the deployed officers and detectives to a central location. Now, a re-division has been established, along practical investigative divisions rather than district geographic divisions. These functional divisions are now concentrating on the types of murder - for example, there is a division specializing in murders which are probable serial-killings, gang-related killings, deaths by arson, etcetera. Reportedly the entire force will work on any killing to whatever degree required, however speialty groups with additional training are available for consultation as needed. Terrifyingly (but better late than never) one task group is looking closely at the deaths of over 100 women in the past several years, at last admitting that there may not only be a serial killer in Washington, but possibly several. As more money, provided under emergency authorizations and the District Revitalization Act, has begun to actually reach the police districts, more specialized training is being provided to officers, as useful equipment, in particular useful information and telecommunications systems.

However, both national and local policework authorities say that one of the systems which has long been available to local investigators, the Integrated Ballistics Identification System (IBIS), is grossly underused. There is at present a backlog of some 2500 rounds and expended casings which have yet to be tested and catalogued or crossmatched. Combined with the ongoing (we presume; there have been no public reports of an improved situation) decrepitude and uselessness of the evidence storage facilities, this leads to a very bleak outlook in the DC criminal-justice system. No matter the improvements in the closure rate (in the District, "closure" is determined either administratively by noting that the offender is in jail on another offense, or worse, closure may be alleged with a simple arrest of the subject) - justice is not served if an arrested perpetrator can walk simply because evidence linkages cannot be made due to failure to pursue court-proofed procedure.

On 10 June 1998, it was announced that Police Chief Charles H. Ramsey, formerly of Chicago, who was chosen to head the embattled Washington Metropolitan Police Department after an extended nationwide "talent search", has named Nola Joyce, formerly a Chicago deputy police superintendant, Illinois Department of Corrections administrator and University of Illinois (Urbana-Champlain) adjunct professor, to the position of head of the MPD's planning unit. Ramsey, in an unrelated issue, has come under intense pressure by Washington's extremely-activist Latino Civil Rights Center to continue the established Departmental policy which prohibits officers from requesting immigration documentation from non-English-speaking Latinos who have come under scrutiny. Washington is home to an increasing number of Latinos, many of whom had arrived in the US under refugee status. In recent months, as Federal law greatly restructuring immigration policies and procedures came into effect, Latino civil-rights groups have led major demonstrations protesting imminent deportations. Special status may be granted certain of these refugee communities, but in the absence of the ability to request documentation, police officers cannot tell whether they are dealing with legal refugees, resident aliens, naturalized foreign-born American citizens, or illegal aliens. In a city so international as is out Nation's Capital, we believe this policy to be bordering on sheer stupidity if not insanity, police officers must be able to check national identity of suspects.

We must note that prior to the Federal crackdown on border-jumpers, there have been some extremely scary incidents in Washington, including penetration to the President's helicopter's service area and runways by illegal aliens on construction crews, and seizures of top-quality forged documentation in open-air markets in Adams-Morgan and Mt.-Pleasant.

25 June 1998
On 16 June 1998, MPD Police Chief Charles H. Ramsey stated that he would seek a requirement that prospective police recuits possess college degrees.

In support of this move, widely hailed by law-enforcement scholars, Ramsey noted (as reported by the Washington Post): "The skill sets required to be a policeman of the '90s and into the next century is totally different. We need to reflect that."

Possibly the majority of officers in the MPD do not possess any college degrees. Before this time, a high-school diploma was the only educational requirement of applicants. Former Chief of Police Larry Soulsby, for instance, reportedly had no college degree.

We must note that in a city where white-collar crime is certainly no less pervasive than is the other variety, and where possibly the majority of legal violations are committed by persons with college degrees, it is of course only sensible that officers themselves be possessed of academic distinction and, more importantly, have been exposed in full immersion to the culture of the collegiate, or they will simply tend to be outclassed in anything other than a street arrest or a bar fight. This is not intended as a slight upon the intelligence of MPD officers, it's just that I'll be the first to say that no matter how smart you are, you need to go to college just to learn dirty tricks, or those who know them will leave you clueless.

Ramsey did not directly state, but it may be inferred from other statements, and the known condition of the management structures of the MPD, that he seeks to improve the organizational systems of the MPD. Once the envy of police forces worldwide, the Metropolitan Police Department is simply not professionally managed; there would be a clear benefit if persons with degrees in organizational management, in particular police management, were put in charge of the show. In particular, accountability specialists will be essential if the Force is to shed the reputation of questionable procurements, and the known status of flagrant ineptitude in evidence management.

As part of what is shaping up to be an ongoing program to attract top-flight professional police managers, recently Ramsey appointed a new number-two man in MPD management, Executive Assistant Terrence W. Gainer. Mr. Gainer was a former director of the Illinois State Police, a no-nonsense organization if ever there was one, from March 1991 until his arrival in the District. He has also served as special assistant for drug enforcement to the US Secretary of Transportation. Gainer, interestingly, appears to also be an expert on Rohypnol and other such coercive-chemicals. Gainer also figured prominently in the so-called "Roby Ridge incident", and is on record as supporting graduated classes of teen drivers'-licenses. [source:InterNet]

In the interim, as regards educational levels of the present police management, Chief Ramsey appears to be doing a bit of assessment. He has reportedly requested of lieutenants and captains the creation of a 500-word essay, describing perceptions of present problems and future challenges for the department. He's also requested resumes. He's quoted by the Post as saying: "All I want is the best and brightest... if a person fits that bill, he has a position with me; if they don't then they're out. It's just that simple."

In recent days, Ramsey has stated that he cannot support off-duty work by officers, particularly in positions as bouncers at bars. Clearly, having a sworn officer employed in a position where he must passively observe non-violent criminal activity creates an aura of moral-turpitude or at least the potential of appearances of corruption. Yet District officers are often driven to such employment by the relatively low pay offered by the District. Chief Ramsey has proposed a 13-percent pay raise for all District officers. He will probably, should he get his request for a requirement of college degree, be forced to substantially raise pay again to attract qualified recuits.

Chief Ramsey has also begun implimenting assorted other programs, some quietly, some with great visibility if not actual fanfare. One program which was touted as an all-around success in Ramsey's native Chicago was the so-called "Roll Calls Without Walls". Ramsey is a very strong proponent, in fact a driving creative force, of the Community Policing approach. Henceforth, it will be not-uncommon to see various police units assemble in public to conduct start-of-shift business. It may be added that considering the conditions of some police buildings, you might as well have the officers assemble out of doors, the conditions are almost certainly more pleaseant and probably more safe as well. Chief Ramsey has promised to agitate for better working conditions, at least he wants the buildings rehabilitated. Also, recently, members of various units have been going house to house, knocking on doors and introducing themselves. There has long been a sense of distance between the MPD and the community; this is one of Ramsey's antidotes to distance, an attempt to develop rapport between the officers and the neighborhoods they are expected to serve.

In other police matters, a report has been released which notes that roughly one in eight calls to DC 911 emergency control went unanswered, and one in five was answered within 16 to 80 seconds. Poor pay, abuse of leave, and understaffing have been cited as specific problems within the 911 emergency response center.

27 June 1998
Captain Jose Acosta, the first Latino to head a Washington DC police station, was named to the post 26 June 1998 by MPD Chief Ramsey. He rises to the post after the abrupt ousting of the former occupant of the position, one Joseph Adamany, a 26-year veteran of the force, who had been appointed by then-Acting-Chief Sonya T. Proctor. Adamany had been given the opportunity to retire or be demoted.

Captain Acosta takes command of the 3rd Division, which includes parts of the city which have extremely heavy concentrations of Latinos, largely foreign-born refugees of the last decades' wars in Central and South America, many of whom are of questionable immigratin status. Latino leaders in the area have been pressing for years to have more high-level leadership in the police department, which they categorize as insensitive, cultural-supremacist, anti-illegal-alien, and Spanish-nonspeaking anti-Latino racist. We assume that Captain Acosta will address these issues.

13 September 1998
Recently hired Chief Charles H. Ramsey has announced his intent to begin a three month process of major restructuring of the Metropolitian Police Department (MPD). This should be in place right about the time of the elections and thus whomever is elected to the position of Mayor of Washington will have a totally revamped system quite different from the system which was so thoroughly corrupted and degraded under the twenty-year reign of the Marion Barry administration.

Chief Ramsey observed, shortly after being sworn into office, that the greatest weakness of the MPD was not its officers, most of whom are upstanding examples of dedicated public servants placing themselves on the front lines, but rather the organizational structures which enable their ongoing war against crime. However, others maintain that mere organizational restructuring will remain an ineffective approach, citing the long years during which Marion Barry and his political appointees picked and chose which officers rose to which positions, largely on the basis of whether or not their police work "stepped on the toes" of Barry or his cronies, or their various suspected illegal operations - accountability was based not on the results obtained, but rather was dependent on who was not pissed-off. Investigations into police-department corruption remain underway. Still, one of the best ways to break up conspiracies is to relocate suspected conspirators to differing remote provinces, and this may be one motivation for the particular mode of restructuring selected by Chief Ramsey.

First and foremost, the sitting-duck and falling-apart downtown central headquarters is to be split up. The downtown HQ of the MPD is an ancient and rotting wreck of a place, which over the summer experienced massive power outages due to electrical fires. Among other things, left the 911 emergency-number control center and central dispatch facilities unmanned for a few days. Promises were made that this would be remedied, with an eventual new facility which would feature state-of-the-art equipment, staffed by a larger crew of operators and dispatchers, receiving pay on a par with that received by similar personnel in surrounding jurisdictions.

Rather than have one central location serving the entire city, Ramsey intends to create three Regional Operations Command center (ROC). Each would be headed by an assistant chief, based locally. "Gallium es in partum tres", with a northern command center controlling Districts 2 and 4, central command will cover Districts 1, 3 and 5, and an eastern command will cover Districts 6 and 7.

At present, there appears to be no decision as to where the new Operations Centers will be located. The present state of the various District Offices' physical facilities are considered "deplorable". They are overcrowded and underequipped. We might suggest that commercial space be leased temporarily until such time as funds can be allocated to either replace existing facilities, or acquire permanent replacements. Given that Washington may be viewed as increasingly a target for international terrorism and operations aiding and abetting such ventures, heightened security of any new facilities should be a major consideration. Distributed dataprocessing and distributed communications links are to be presumed, presently there is inadequate computer power available to the District Offices and citywide, the MPD's telephony needs, both data and voice, far exceed capabilities.

Among other organizational changes, many of the present "special teams" are to be eliminated as such, and member components will be redistributed to the several Districts. Among such "special teams" to be distributed are: Homicide, Sex Offenses, and Traffic. Of these teams, possibly only Homicide should have ever been centralized, due to the trans-district nature of deadly crime here in Washington. However, past performance has indicated that centralization of the Homicide Division here in Washington has proved to be counterproductive.

As the various special-teams divisions are salted throughout the city, each Regional Operations Center will acquire its own special teams units, presumably operating independently of their counterparts in other regions. Such regional special-teams units include youth investigations and canine units, according to the Post report on the reorganization.

The re-distributed special-teams detectives, some 300 of them, will be divided into two major task groups. One will investigate crimes against property, and the other will investigate crimes against persons.

Also to be re-invented will be the controversial Patrol Service Areas or PSAs. Each will become a mini-district, with one lieutenant and several sargeants, many of whom will be expected to be out on patrol. Where at present there appears to be a great degree of independence and lack of organization - and thus a clear lack of accountability - within each of the 83 PSAs, there will henceforth be a chain of command and accountability, and perhaps most importantly, managerial authority. Each PSA will also be assigned its own crime-scene technicians, who have previously been criticized for their slow response time to the field due to their centralized location.

Ramsey is also said to be considering greatly increasing civilian employment within the MPD, to allow more sworn officers to be out in the field and on patrol. Reportedly he has already hired civilian management for such areas within the department as communications, strategic planning, and personnel. It may develop that central operations will be administered by civilian authority as well. However, we believe that as a paramilitary organization, the central core of the police department should probably continue to be run by paramilitary authority which would be more cognizant of the special needs for security.

Ramsey also proposes that an increased proportion of the MPD budget should be dedicated to training, and in particular to leadership and management training. Also, in keeping with his plan to pursue Community Policing strategies, he intends to forge ahead with increasing cooperation between residents and groups of officers assigned to liason with the communities.

Please see the Washington Metropolitan Police Department Homepage.

More commentary is to come!

And as always, thanks to the fine and diligent staff of the Washington Post.

Please see the Washington DC: Not a Pretty Site (nor sight) Page!
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