Monday, March 13, 2006

Police Stories

The Post has an interesting article about the new head of the MPD Police Union. His name is Kristopher Baumann, and according to him, the department is in a serious crisis.

During his campaign, Baumann toured the city's seven police districts and said he often heard the same refrain: Officers felt beaten down by what they viewed as an unfair discipline system and a lack of leadership at the top. Police officials were not coming up with strategies to curb crime. Beat officers felt overworked and underappreciated. They felt that Police Chief Charles H. Ramsey, who has headed the department since 1998, offered nice sound bites for TV but didn't follow through, Baumann said.

It might all just be sound and fury, though. Police Chief Ramsey counters that crime has dropped dramatically in the District since he took over in 1998, and the statistics back him up. Further, Baurmann seems like he might just be trying to rattle some cages:

Others seemed a bit put off by Baumann's rhetoric. During the council hearing Feb. 23, Baumann made sweeping allegations about subjects such as staffing in the 7th District.
Council member Phil Mendelson (D-At Large), who chairs the Judiciary Committee, said he thought the department's top commanders easily refuted Baumann's claims.

Also, WTOP has a really brief story about some pushes to require DC police to live in the neighborhoods they serve. I know that several of our PSA officers live in the neighborhood, and it is appreciated by everyone, but given the difficulty in finding good officers, is narrowing the pool of candidates really the right way to go?

What do the residents of Logan Circle think?


Paul G said...

Rather than requiring (and thus narrowing the pool), why can't there be a graduated incentive system put into place to entice police officers into neighborhoods? By graduated, I mean if they move into low-crime/low-problem areas, they get the low end of the incentive (5% pay boost?) but if they move into high-crime/high-problem areas they get the high end of the incentive (20% pay boost?) There are already carrots dangling (e.g., extra tax incentives in purchasing a home, lower interest rates, grants for down payment), but they just aren't working.

Brian said...

That's a neat idea. I personally like that.

lm said...

I personally think that all city workers should be required to live in city limits. It works in other major cities - I don't see why it shouldn't work here. It gives officers, teachers, etc. a real stake in their communities and is mutually beneficial - they care more about their own neighborhoods and as a result, students are better taught, police service improves, etc. If we need to pay them more to live here, that's money well spent in my opinion.

Ofc. Caron said...

This is just my humble opinion!

The police officers' moral and the drop in statistics aren't the same issue. Yes, the crime stats have dropped in the past 8 years. But moral is low too. They are not related to each other, other than to know that this past holiday season, crime stats dropped, due to the Chief recinding part of the labor contract and causing many officer's to miss even more time with their families during the holiday season. Officers are often disrespected, especially by juveniles. It isn't like it used to be.

In regards to living in DC, as a police officer, I do take pride in working in PSA 307 and living in PSA 307. Incentives are nice, but they are hard to find and purchasing a house in DC just is not financially feasible for most Officers. And the incentive might be provided to an Officer who doesn't want to protect his neighborhood, regardless, and just sits inside his residence. Additionally, it is a safety concern for many Officers' and their families to live in the area they patrol, there is a fear of retaliation. It happens.

T4DC said...

I agree that an incentive such as higher pay is a good option to those officers willing to live where they work. They most certainly deserve some additional compensation for basically being visable (if they drive a scout car) and mentally being on the job 24/7.

Police officers already have a "stake" in the community.
They care about our neighborhoods.
They care about our children.
They care about us - everyday. The job they do speaks for itself.

Their profession is one that requires tremendous commitment and dedication to a society that often disrespects authority. They have to maintain their integrity without the need for recognition that many of us get and strive for in our corporate world's.
Being a police officer is truly a thankless job that we (the general public) all seem to have opinions about how it should be better managed.

I believe that requiring all city employees to live where they work, especially police officers, may do more harm than good.

Not only would it potentially discourage good candidates from applying for the job, but would severely put a stress on the already burdened mental health of our police force.

It may sound like a good idea, but if you examine the stressors of a police officers job, which Officer Caron makes some very good points regarding safety of officers in their PSA's, the statisics show that living/ working in a district and a drop in crime does not necessarily increase moral nor does it improve police service.

No amount of money or bonus incentives can increase a person's feeling of personal safety...even if you are a police officer.