Ramsey urged to endorse CCRB funding

Ramsey urged to endorse CCRB funding

August 12, 1998

Chief Charles H. Ramsey
Chief, Metropolitan Police Department
300 Indiana Avenue, N.W., Suite 5080
Washington, D.C. 20001

Dear Chief Ramsey:

I am writing to seek your public endorsement of the decision by the House Appropriations Committee to add $1.2 million in federal funds for FY 1999 for operations of the new civilian complaint review system to be established by Bill 12-521.

We were delighted when Councilmember David Catania announced a few weeks ago that he had persuaded the committee to add these funds. Up until that time, it seemed that operating the new system would depend on reprogramming funds from elsewhere in the District's budget — most likely from your own department's appropriation. Because the $1.2 million appropriation represents new federal financing, we would not have to take money away from anything else your Department is doing.

We were naturally very upset last week when we heard there might be a motion on the House floor to delete that $1.2 million appropriation. We were even more concerned to learn that your failure to endorse this appropriation was being interpreted by some on Capitol Hill as a sign of your disapproval of the new system. Although the House has passed the appropriation bill with this provision intact, we fear the funding will remain in jeopardy until and unless you publicly support it.

The District has been without any kind of civilian complaint system for the last three years. Very few other big cities in our country are without such a system. Bill 12-521, while probably not perfect in anyone's eyes, is the product of prolonged deliberations, negotiations, and input from all affected parties, including the Metropolitan Police Department and the police unions. It passed the Council unanimously in early July and will no doubt win final approval in the early fall. It deserves a chance to succeed.

We regret that the FY 1999 D.C. appropriations bill passed by the House has been saddled with numerous obnoxious riders that are anti-gay and/or anti-home rule. Unless these amendments are rejected by the Senate or by the Conference Committee, there is a good chance that the President may be forced to veto the overall bill. Thus, we may yet have to resort to reprogramming as a means of getting the new civilian complaint review system underway during the next fiscal year. But we will do all in our power to see that the final D.C. appropriations bill both maintains the $1.2 million for the new system and is freed from extraneous assaults on home rule and on lesbians and gay men.

We look forward to working with you productively on a wide range of issues to foster improved relations between our police force and our gay and lesbian community. A public statement from you addressed to Congress endorsing Bill 12-521 and the $1.2 million appropriation would be an excellent first step.

Sincerely,

Richard J. Rosendall
President
Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance of Washington, DC

cc: The Honorable Marion Barry
All Councilmembers
The Honorable Eleanor Holmes Norton
ACLU/National Capital Area
Gay Men & Lesbians Opposing Violence (GLOV)
The Washington Blade
Washington City Paper
The InTowner

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