GLAA supports proposed budget for Office of Police Complaints
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Office of Police Complaints

GLAA on Public Safety

GLAA supports proposed budget for Office of Police Complaints

GAY AND LESBIAN ACTIVISTS ALLIANCE OF WASHINGTON
Fighting for Equal Rights Since 1971
P. O. Box 75265
Washington, D.C. 20013
(202) 667-5139

April 25, 2007


The Honorable Phil Mendelson
Committee on Public Safety and the Judiciary
Council of the District of Columbia
1350 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Washington, D.C.  20013

Dear Phil:

I am writing to express strong support from the Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance (GLAA) for the proposed FY 2008 budget for the Office of Police Complaints (OPC) when your committee marks up the budget for public safety agencies on May 2.

We believe that OPC’s outstanding record of accomplishments in recent years, as detailed by its Executive Director Philip K. Eure in his March 29 testimony before your committee, fully warrants the increased spending authorized in Mayor Fenty’s budget.

In particular, we want to stress the importance of Council approval of OPC’s enhancement request for $228,176 to cover the cost of salaries and benefits for three new investigators (two line investigators and one supervisor).

OPC has registered jumps of about 25% in the number of complaints filed in each of the last two years, and that same trend has continued into the current fiscal year.  On top of that, the number of police officers is projected to rise more than 10% over the next few years.  Without the new investigators, we fear that a serious backlog of cases will develop at OPC by the end of FY 2008.

We have been down that road before, and we do not want to go there again. 

Before the current Police Complaints Board was established a few years ago, the original Civilian Complaint Review Board (CCRB), was done in by an out-of-control backlog of cases that was allowed to mushroom and fester year after year.  CCRB was denied the budgetary resources it needed, and the MPD continually refused to cooperate with the agency. Complaints took years to resolve, if then, and public confidence in the agency plummeted.  Finally, the Council threw in the towel and arbitrarily abolished the entire agency in 1995.  Since GLAA was one of the prime movers behind the establishment of the original CCRB in 1980, we were appalled to see its mission sabotaged so blatantly for so long.

We have learned from the debacle of the original CCRB that a serious backlog must never be allowed even to begin, much less get entrenched, at the Police Complaints Board.  Approval of the enhancement request for three additional investigators should dispel that possibility and keep us on the present course of success.

We note that Mr. Eure can foresee that a continued surge in the flow of complaints may dictate a need for additional resources associated with the costs of mediation and adjudication services “to allow us to promptly resolve a larger number of complaints.”  We think it would be fiscally prudent to allocate some additional funding in FY 08 for this purpose. 

Thank you for your attention, and best wishes.


Sincerely,

Barrett L. Brick
President

Cc: The Honorable Jack Evans
       The Honorable Mary Cheh
       Phil Eure, OPC
       Steve Block, ACLU/National Capital Area


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