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Task Force urges full funding for
Office of Citizen Complaint Review
March 4, 2004
The Honorable Anthony A. Williams, Mayor
District of Columbia
1350 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20004
Dear Mayor Williams:
The undersigned organizations, members of the NAACP Criminal Justice Task Force, have reviewed the recently released Annual Report of the Office of Citizen Complaint Review for fiscal year 2003 and are very concerned about the agency's problem of continuing and increasing case resolution backlogs. If left unchecked, this problem is likely to result in the demise of the CCRB just as was the fate of its predecessor.
The statute establishing today's citizen review system was crafted with a keen awareness of the need to avoid the case backlog problem. The drafters of the CCRB statute eliminated the requirement for evidentiary hearings for all cases, and introduced the options of early dismissal and mediation to facilitate resolution of cases. Experts such as Professor Samuel Walker (author of Police Accountability: The Role of Citizen Oversight, 2001) consider the District's system a model for other jurisdictions. However, there is a limit as to what can be achieved by structural reform. The core of any complaint system is the individual investigation of cases, and we understand that this is the bottleneck in our system. OCCR simply does not have enough investigators commensurate with the number of complaints filed. In comparison to other jurisdictions, the number of OCCR inves! tigators is clearly inadequate. (See the Annual Report, p. 19.)
As the responsibilities of the Metropolitan Police Department increase, e.g., policing within public schools, it is essential that the resources of the OCCR increase so as to ensure essential oversight. Today's Metropolitan Police Department is better able to fulfill its mandate for community policing because of the CCRB. The public feels empowered and police officers understand that they are ultimately responsible to those they serve. That the Chief of Police has accepted 100 percent of OCCR's recommendations for discipline is a marker of its professionalism and effectiveness.
We therefore urge you to ensure that the Office of Citizen Complaint Review is fully funded. Specifically, the OCCR must have additional investigators and must be able to retain its investigators by paying them at the going salary rate.
Thank you for your consideration.
|Mark Thompson, Chair|
|NAACP Criminal Justice Task Force|
|and on behalf of:|
|Johnny Barnes, Executive Director||Ron Hampton, President|
|ACLU of the National Capital Area||National Black Police Association|
|Sam Smith, Editor||Richard J. Rosendall|
|The Progressive Review||Vice President for Political Affairs|
|Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance|
|Donald Temple||Cheryl Epps|