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Combating crime in the District of Columbia : hearing before the Subcommittee on Crime of the Committee on the Judiciary, House of Representatives, One Hundred Fourth Congress, first session, June 22, 1995 online

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confronting the Diatrict of Columbia. In my reoent conversationa
with members of congreas about this topic, I hava been rr OF FRED THOMAS, CHIEF OF POLICE,
METROPOLITAN POLICE DEPARTMENT

Chief Thomas. Good morning, Mr. Chairman and members of the
Committee on Crime. I, too, am pleased to be here and share my
views with you concerning crime and the status of the Metropolitan
Police Department and as it relates to the citizens of the District
of Columbia.

I would start off by summarizing the crime picture in 1994 com-
pared to 1993, and if I might take the liberty and just — I know
stats are hard to follow, but read these into the record because I
think they're very significant, and I'll be comparing the 1994 cal-
endar year crime statistics to those of 1993 and against the uni-
form crime report that's prepared by the FBI.

In 1994, crimes against persons, specifically homicides, the city
reduced the homicides by 12 percent; the national average was 5.
We reduced rapes by 23 percent; the national average was 5. We
reduced robberies by 11 percent; the national average was 6; aggra-
vated assaults by 9 percent; the national average was 2 — for an
overall reduction in crimes against persons of 10 percent compared
to a national average of 4.

Crimes against property, burglary crimes, we reduced those by
13 percent; the national was 5; theft by 6 percent; the national av-
erage was 1; stolen automobiles in D.C. was 2 percent; the national
average was 2. Arsons, we reduced those by 3 percent; the national
average was 1. Total crimes against property in the city were re-
duced by 6 percent; the national average was 3, for a total reduc-
tion of overall crimes of 7 percent compared to a national average
of 3 percent.

And we didn't do that without tremendous gains in the city. A
number of things occurred as relates to homicides. We drastically
increased the number of detectives available to handle homicide
cases. We developed a strong partnership with the U.S. attorney's
office and other Federal agencies. We also had a strong initiative
to get guns off the street. We recovered or seized 5,500 guns in
1994, 71 percent of which were semiautomatic weapons. For 1994,
the city arrested 5,300 adults, 3,900 juveniles. This is not a city
that's soft on crime. Two percent of our population is in jail, in
prison, and 1 percent's on parole. We give out on average longer
sentences than any other city in the country, but yet we continue
to have a major problem dealing with crime and violence.

Juvenile crime is what concerns me the most as we looked at a
decline in homicides in 1994. Juveniles arrested for homicide in
1994 compared to 1993 increased 107 percent. Narcotic arrests, we
made 7,100 narcotic arrests. And the trends continue. The trend
with violence is mostly associated with juveniles, and I say young-
sters who are in the age of 13 to 18. We have a number of 13-year-
olds who are charged with first degree murder for murdering other
13-year-olds.

As relates to public perception of safety, you're absolutely correct,
Mr. Chairman; there are areas in the city that are absolutely safe
as any in the Nation. West of 16th Street in this city last year



16

there were 10 homicides. In one small pocket of the city, in Ward
8 of the city, there were 98 homicides — a stark comparison.

But it's the perception of crime and the fear of crime. It's the fear
of crime that drives our citizens. They're concerned about crime,
but they're also concerned about the quality of life and they're con-
cerned about being shot as they walk out of their homes or sit in
their yards. In some instances they're not at risk, but it's their per-
ception that they are at risk, and I think you'll find that in Wash-
ington and around the country.

One of the issues that we have to deal with is the budget issue.
In 1994, the Department spent about $253 million on fighting
crime. Crimefighting is expensive. About $10 million was spent in
court overtime to prosecute those 53,000 arrests. The court over-
time budget for fiscal year 1995 is $7 million. As I indicated before,
we spent $10.5 just on court. We spent a total overtime budget in
1994 of $19 million. The balance above the court was actually spent
on crimefighting initiatives, and what we attempted to do was de-
ploy officers in hot spots around the city. We know that most of our
violent crimes occurs in or near public housing, and we had a con-
centrated effort to focus in those areas.

As we look at the personnel issues of the Department, it concerns
me the number of officers that we are currently losing. In 1994, we
lost 250 officers from the department. These are experienced offi-
cers that we cannot replace. Since June 1994 through May 1995,
we've lost 559 members from the police department. It's a trend
that we must stop if we're going to continue to provide safety to
our citizens.

As Mr. Holder indicated, the need for technology is quite appar-
ent in our agency. We have a manual process that takes officers
anywhere from three to four hours to process a simple arrest,
where if we were to automate the report-writing system, we prob-
ably could do that in 35 to 45 minutes, but all of that is continued
to fund budget resources.

As we look at crime moving into 1995, it is of some concern to
me. Crime has increased 10 percent since January 1 through June
15 of this year. Arrests for the same period is actually down 7 per-
cent. For a 45-day period from April the 1st through the 15th of
May, arrests dropped 31 percent, but that's trend that must be
stopped. We have been working in the city on a way of reengineer-
ing the police department to better manage the resources. I cer-
tainly would agree with all that money is not necessarily the an-
swer. I think in the department in the city we have to change our
culture of how we police. It's our vision that we want to reengineer
the department and fully implement community policing where we
put officers on the street closer to community, develop a partner-
ship between the community and the police, reducing the bureauc-
racy within the department, reducing the layers of bureaucracy,
and forcing most of the work and the problem-solving down at its
lowest level.

And I would just summarize by saying that the pay cuts for the
officers have been devastating in terms of morale, and I realize
that these are very tight times and all must contribute, but I would
submit to you that persons in law enforcement are extremely at



17

risk. We've had several officers shot and killed in our city in the
last 12 months. That trend is continuing.

As we look at cooperations — and I'll close with this — there are 23
separate law enforcement agencies in the city of Washington. It is
estimated there are about 14,000 police officers. Washington is 69
square miles, 9 of which is under water. This should be the safest
city in the world, based on the number of officers, but because of
the separation of local and Federal we don't have the level of co-
operation that we need.

We had an experiment last year where we did, in fact, use the
Park Police and uniformed division of the Secret Service in con-
junction with the MPD. That helped contribute to reduction in
crime. If we would only take all the officers that here now and
make better use of them, we would not have to hire more police
officers, but better utilization of the resources, better coordination,
and take the money that we have and really help make this city
what it can be. It's a beautiful city and it's one that we all need
to work together to make safer.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I'm certainly prepared to answer any
questions that you might have.

[The prepared statement of Chief Thomas follows:]



18

Prepared Statement of Fred Thomas, Chief of Pouce, Metropolitan Pouce

Depaktment

GOOD MORNING, MR. CHAIRMAN AND MEMBERS OF THE
SUBCOMMITTEE ON CRIME.



A BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE CRIME SITUATION IN THE DISTRICT OF
COLUMBIA IS THIS: WHILE IMPRESSIVE PROGRESS HAS BEEN MADE, THE
CURRENT FISCAL SITUATION IMPERILS THE DEPARTMENT'S PROGRESS IN THE
FUTURE. AS I APPROACH THE END OF MY TENURE AS CHIEF OF THE METRO-
POLITAN POLICE DEPARTMENT, PLEASE PERMIT ME TO REPORT THE PROGRESS
WE HAVE MADE, SOME CONCERNS AT THIS CRITICAL JUNCTURE, AND WHAT I
SEE AS TRENDS DEVELOPING FOR THE REMAINDER OF THIS YEAR.

CRIME IN THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA DECLINED 7% DURING CALENDAR
YEAR 1994. CRIMES AGAINST PROPERTY FELL 6%, BUT MOST SIGNIFICANTLY
CRIMES AGAINST PERSONS DECLINED 10%. WHAT MAKES THIS ACHIEVE-
MENT EVEN MORE IMPRESSIVE IS A COMPARISON WITH NATIONAL CRIME
STATISTICS. WHEN COMPARED TO THE NUMBER OF CRIME INDEX OFFENSES
REPORTED BY LAW ENFORCEMENT AGENCIES THROUGHOUT THE UNITED
STATES , THE DISTRICT EXCEEDED THE NATIONAL AVERAGES IN THE REDUC-
TION IN TOTAL CRIME (3% NATION-WIDE VS. 7% IN THE DISTRICT), THE
REDUCTION IN VIOLENT CRIME (4% NATION-WIDE VS. 10% IN THE DISTRICT),
AND THE REDUCTION IN PROPERTY CRIME (3% NATION-WIDE VS. 7% IN THE
DISTRICT).



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HOMICIDE, THE CRIME MOST APPARENT TO THE PUBLIC, CONTINUED TO
DECLINE. FOR FIRST TIME IN SIX YEARS, THE NUMBER OF HOMICIDES IN
1994(399) WERE UNDER 400 FOR THE YEAR, THUS ALLOWING THE DISTRICT
TO RELINQUISH THE TITLE OF "THE MURDER CAPITAL ". DRUG-RELATED
HOMICIDES HAVE BEEN DECREASING IN THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA SINCE
1989 (229) TO A LOW OF 58 IN CALENDAR YEAR 1994. THIS RESULTED IN A
75% DECREASE FROM CALENDAR 1 994 TO CALENDAR 1 989. A 52%
DECREASE IN DRUG-RELATED HOMICIDES OCCURRED FROM CALENDAR YEAR
1994 TO CALENDAR YEAR 1993.

SEVERAL INITIATIVES HAVE AIDED IN THE REDUCTION OF HOMICIDES
INCLUDING :

A REORGANIZATION OF THE HOMICIDE BRANCH.
ENHANCED TRAINING.

JOINT EFFORTS WITH MPD AND VARIOUS FEDERAL TASK FORCES (FBI ,
DEA, AND ATF).

IMPLEMENTATION OF "REDRUM", TARGETING HIGH CRIME AREAS IN
PUBLIC HOUSING.
ENHANCED CRIME FIGHTING TECHNOLOGY.



20



DURING CALENDAR YEAR 1994 , OVER 5,586 GUNS WERE SEIZED OR
TURNED IN , INCLUDING 2,271 AUTOMATIC WEAPONS. BUILDING ON THE
SUCCESS OF A PILOT GUN RECOVERY PROJECT ESTABLISHED IN THE THIRD
DISTRICT IN 1994, A JOINT EFFORT OF MPD, ATF AND THE U.S. ATTORNEY'S
OFFICE, CALLED "OPERATION CEASEFIRE", WAS BEGUN ON JUNE 11, 1995.
INDIVIDUAL GUN RECOVERY UNITS HAVE BEEN ESTABLISHED AT SIX OF THE
SEVEN POLICE DISTRICTS. A GUN HOTLINE WAS ESTABLISHED (1-800-AFT-
GUNS) AND EFFORTS WERE INITIATED TO IMPOSE STIFFER PENALTIES FOR
GUN CRIMES COMMITTED IN THE CITY. FINALLY, AN INTENSE PUBLIC
INFORMATION CAMPAIGN WAS LAUNCHED TO COUNTER THE GLAMOUR
ASSOCIATED WITH THE USE OF GUNS IN COMMITING VIOLENT CRIMES BY
YOUTH. SEVERAL AMNESTY PROGRAMS WERE ALSO INITIATED.

CRIMES AGAINST PROPERTY WERE DOWN BY 6% FOR 1994. THIS
DECLINE WAS A RESULT OF DECREASES IN BURGLARY (-13%) AND
LARCENY/THEFT (-6%).

COMPARING CY 94 TO CY 93, THE FOLLOWINGCRIME FIGURES HAVE
EMERGED:
. . JUVENILES ARRESTED FOR PART ONE CRIME INDEX OFFENSES

DECREASED 26%.

JUVENILES ARRESTED FOR VIOLENT CRIMES DECREASED 18%.

JUVENILES ARRESTED FOR PROPERTY CRIMES DECREASED 31 %.

JUVENILE HOMICIDE VICTIMS DECREASED 19%. CY 94(43), CY 93(53).



21



JUVENILES ARRESTED FOR HOMICIDE INCREASED 107%. CY 94(62),

CY 93(30).

JUVENILES ARRESTED FOR STOLEN AUTOS HAS SHOWN A 38%

DECREASE. CY 94(464), CY 93(754).

JUVENILES ARRESTED FOR AGGRAVATED ASSAULTS DECREASED 26%.

CY 94(398), CY 93(536).

JUVENILES ARRESTED FOR LARCENY DECREASED 24%. CY 94(144),

CY 93(190).

ALTHOUGH DRUG-RELATED HOMICIDES HAVE BEEN DECREASING IN THE

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, THE AVAILABILITY AND SUPPLY OF DRUGS IS

PLENTIFUL IN THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, ESPECIALLY PCP,

MARIJUANA AND COCAINE. THE PLENTIFULNESS OF THESE DRUGS HAS

MADE THE PRICE REMAIN STEADY FOR THE USERS. THE PERCENT OF

PURITY FOR NARCOTICS HAS INCREASED, I.E., 15% MORE POTENT

THAN IN THE PAST; THUS, INDIVIDUALS ARE BECOMING MORE

ADDICTED.

ADULT DRUG USE AMONG THOSE WHO ARE ARRESTED AND TESTED

POSITIVE FOR ANY DRUG USE HAS REMAINED THE SAME (49%) WHEN

COMPARING CY 1994 TO THE SAME PERIOD IN 1993.

PCP INCREASED SLIGHTLY (1 1 %) AMONG THOSE ADULTS ARRESTED

AND TESTED POSITIVE IN CY 1994.

OPIATES AMONG ADULTS ARRESTS REMAINED THE SAME AT 10%,

TESTING POSITIVE IN CY 1994.



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PCP AND MARIJUANA USE AMONG THOSE JUVENILES TESTING POSITIVE
INCREASED RESPECTIVELY 17% AND 52% IN CY 1994.

FROM THE PRECEDING STATISTICS, IT CAN BE SEEN THAT SUBSTANCE
ABUSE CONTINUES TO BE A PROBLEM FOR JUVENILE ARRESTEES AS WELL AS
ADULT ARRESTEES TESTING POSITIVE FOR DRUGS. CURRENT TRENDS
INDICATE THAT PCP AND MARIJUANA ARE THE DRUG OF CHOICE AMONG THE
JUVENILE POPULATION. COCAINE AND PCP CONTINUE TO BE THE DRUG OF
CHOICE AMONG ADULTS. THE MOST RECENT DATA REVEALS THAT DRUG
ABUSE AMONG THE AGES OF 1 3 - 1 5 YEARS OLD IS INCREASING.

FOR THE FIRST FIVE MONTHS OF CY 95, JUVENILES ARRESTED FOR
ROBBERY, ADWS, THEFTS, WEAPONS AND STOLEN AUTOS HAVE DECREASED
SLIGHTLY AS COMPARED WITH THE SAME PERIOD IN CY 94.

CURRENT TRENDS FOR LARCENY REVEAL A CONTINUED DECLINE, WHILE
THE OTHER PART ONE OFFENSES ARE SHOWING VARIATIONS THAT CANNOT
AT THIS TIME SUPPORT A SPECIFIC TREND. HOWEVER, BECAUSE OF THE NEW
ANTI-SEXUAL ABUSE ACT OF 1994, THERE CAN BE SIGNIFICANT INCREASES


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Online LibraryUnited States. Congress. House. Committee on the JCombating crime in the District of Columbia : hearing before the Subcommittee on Crime of the Committee on the Judiciary, House of Representatives, One Hundred Fourth Congress, first session, June 22, 1995 → online text (page 2 of 18)