ACLU opposes OPC budget cut 04/22/11
OPC Annual Report for FY 2010 03/17/11
GLAA opposes budget cut 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
Monday, April 6, 2009
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. 20004
Note: Please include this letter in the committee record for the April 1, 2009
hearing on the FY 2010 Budget for the Office of Police Complaints.
Dear Chairman Mendelson:
We are writing to oppose Mayor Fenty’s proposed 3 percent reduction in the budget for the Office of Police Complaints (OPC) for Fiscal Year 2010, which compares to an increase of 5.3% in the total operating budget for the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD)—that is, including funds from both the District’s General Fund and from grants. OPC, by contrast, does not get grants.
As OPC Executive Director Philip K. Eure stated in his testimony on April 1, the proposed decrease in FTEs for investigation and adjudication support “would only exacerbate the effect of a growing workload faced by the agency.” The 36 percent increase in complaints received by OPC in FY 2008 over the previous year parallels the Department’s ramping up of new officer hires, which will continue with MPD’s expected receipt of more than $40 million in federal stimulus funds for the purpose.
The increase in sworn officers will negatively impact OPC’s investigator to sworn officer ratio. As Mr. Eure noted, “High ratios lengthen the amount of time it takes to investigate a complaint, which can affect the public’s confidence in a city’s citizen oversight mechanism, as well as sap the morale of officers who have to contend with unresolved complaints pending against them.” Let us recall that the old Civilian Complaint Review Board (CCRB) was undermined by a mushrooming case backlog resulting from its being denied sufficient resources.
We agree that MPD’s public safety mission is too important for its resources to be cut even in straitened times; but the same holds true for OPC. The value of this independent agency, which employs the best practices of citizen oversight of law enforcement, is reflected in the 11 percent increase in the number of complaints closed by OPC in FY 2008. As Mr. Eure added in his testimony, OPC “also issued four detailed sets of recommendations for police reform that have already resulted in noticeable changes to policies, procedures, and training to address the issues identified in the reports.”
The result of OPC’s excellent work is not just the identification of areas for improvement or the adjudication of misconduct when the evidence so indicates, but the confidence provided both to the citizens and to the great majority of good officers that police misconduct complaints will receive impartial investigation and timely resolution. This builds a foundation for improved trust by citizens in their police, which can lead to increased cooperation with law enforcement.
We therefore join Mr. Eure in asking that OPC be treated similarly to MPD in the FY 2010 budget. Please find the funds to help OPC keep up with its caseload.
Mitchell R. Wood
cc: The Honorable Jack Evans
The Honorable Mary Cheh
The Honorable Muriel Bowser
The Honorable Yvette Alexander
Philip K. Eure, Office of Police Complaints
Steve Block, ACLU/National Capital Area