Eure testifies on budget for Office of Citizen Complaint Review
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Eure testifies on OCCR budget

Fiscal Year 2005 Agency Budget Hearing
Before the Committee on the Judiciary
Council of the District of Columbia

Testimony of Philip K. Eure, Executive Director
Office of Citizen Complaint Review

March 30, 2004

Good afternoon, Chairperson Patterson and members of the Judiciary Committee. I am Philip Eure, the executive director of the Office of Citizen Complaint Review. Seated to my right is Thomas Sharp, OCCR's deputy director. We appreciate this opportunity to provide testimony regarding OCCR's proposed budget for fiscal year 2005.

At OCCR's performance hearing on March 1, 2004, we discussed our agency's work during fiscal year 2003. Over the course of the year, OCCR made significant progress, launching its complaint examination process, continuing its mediation program and community outreach activities, and receiving, investigating, and resolving police misconduct complaints filed by the public against Metropolitan Police Department officers. Today, I would like to talk about our anticipated budgetary needs to continue our work in fiscal year 2005.

OCCR's total proposed budget for fiscal year 2005 is $1,626,030. This proposal represents an overall increase of $144,585 - or 9.8% - over OCCR's approved budget for fiscal year 2004. Broken into its component parts, the proposed budget increases personal services by 14.4% and decreases non-personal services by 0.8%. This budget is a positive response to the primary issues identified by our agency after compiling the statistics for our Fiscal Year 2003 Annual Report, and reviewing the standards for funding and staffing used by comparable police oversight agencies, namely, that our agency does not currently have adequate resources to investigate complaints promptly and resolve them in a timely manner.

Looking first at personal services, the proposed budget for fiscal year 2005 is $1,179,041, which is an increase of $148,041 or 14.4%. In addition to adjustments that would cover cost-of-living and step increases for current staff, this budget would allow OCCR to hire two more investigators, who are urgently needed. As we explained in our annual report, OCCR's personal services budget remained relatively constant in fiscal years 2002, 2003, and 2004, supporting a staff of 16, including six line investigators and two supervisory investigators. With this staffing level, OCCR was able to complete full investigative reports for 91 complaints and close 222 in fiscal year 2002, and complete full investigative reports for 106 complaints and close 235 in fiscal year 2003. Even with some anticipated gains from increased efficiency in fiscal year 2004, however, OCCR was expecting the number of complaints closed by the agency to continue to be exceeded by the steadily growing and consistently larger number of complaints received by the agency, which increased by almost 15% from fiscal year 2002 to fiscal year 2003.

With two more investigators, OCCR anticipates that it will be able to more promptly investigate and resolve the growing number of complaints received by the agency, as well as slow the growth and begin to shrink the agency's number of existing open complaints, which has increased each year. The new investigators will improve OCCR's ratio of sworn MPD officers to line investigators from the current ratio of 617 to 1 to approximately 460 to 1. While this is an improvement in OCCR's staffing level, and a very positive step for the agency, it still leaves OCCR's ratio behind the staffing levels in the police oversight agencies in New York, Detroit, and San Francisco, all of which have similar agencies with their own investigative staff, and have sworn officer to line investigator ratios of 409 to 1, 225 to 1, and 150 to 1, respectively. Consequently, OCCR will continue to closely monitor the capacity of the agency's staff to investigate the police misconduct complaints OCCR receives, and work with the Mayor and the Council to address any needs that may still exist.

Looking next at OCCR's non-personal services budget, which supports the general operation of our office, our community outreach activities, and our mediation and complaint examination programs, the proposed budget for fiscal year 2005 is $445,989, which is a decrease of $4,456 or 0.8%. Although the proposed budget appears to keep the NPS budget basically constant, it actually reflects two noteworthy changes that almost exactly offset each other. The first change is $47,000 in savings from lower costs in our telephone and other services and charges budgets. The second change is an increase of $42,869 in our contractual services budget, which was added to cover the cost of additional complaint examinations. We were glad that we could identify savings that would cover other increases in our budget. Based on our experience with our mediation and complaint examination programs, and the growth we have seen in the number of complaints received by OCCR, we expect that we will refer close to 50 complaints to mediation and 50 complaints to complaint examination. With this additional money, and our continued efforts to seek out low or no cost opportunities to enhance the agency and otherwise provide the District with the greatest value from our agency's limited resources, we believe that our NPS budget is adequate to support our caseload and the work we anticipate in fiscal year 2005.

In summary, the proposed fiscal year 2005 budget for OCCR is a constructive response to the agency's most pressing needs. The increase in the personal services will allow OCCR to hire more investigators, and the additional money for contractual services will allow OCCR to conduct more complaint examinations, which will allow the agency to more promptly investigate and resolve complaints. We appreciate the Mayor's proposing the increases that he did for OCCR in fiscal year 2005, particularly as the District continues to face the challenge of balancing its budget in difficult fiscal times, and we ask for the Council's support for the increases. We think that the money will be well spent and that it will provide significant benefits to the District and its residents. And the added resources will set the stage for OCCR's continued viability and the improvement of police accountability in Washington, D.C.

Before I finish, I would like to point out one error in the budget that was transmitted to the Council. The budget indicates that $80,000 of the increase in OCCR's personal services budget is to allow for pay parity for our investigators. Although we asked for additional money in the budget process for pay parity, OCCR's most critical need is to hire more investigators, and the additional money will be used for this purpose. Consequently, the budget should reflect that the money will be used to hire more investigators and that no money was allocated for pay parity. The budget also will need to be modified to reflect an increase in OCCR's approved FTEs to accommodate the hiring of new investigators. We have spoken with OBP about this issue, and we will be working with them to correct the description and FTEs for future versions of the budget.

This concludes my prepared remarks. I would like to thank the Committee for its time and we will be happy to answer any questions you may have.

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