Good afternoon Chairman Mendelson and other members of this committee. It is an important day for your committee, and the citizens of the District of Columbia anytime we have the ability to speak about how best to improve the safety of every citizen and visitor to our city. More often than not we might be talking about crime statistics and victims rights. How to combat gangs, and drugs and other heinous crimes. But today, our objective is a simple one. How to best realign the current District’s of the Metropolitan Police Department so that the calls for service are spread more evenly. How to best assign officers to the numbers so that response time is limited to a minimum amount of time. Assuring everyone that when the time comes that they dial 911, a police officer shows up as quickly as time allows. Efficiency is paramount when you are in distress. Management of personnel, and timing of response is one of the most important factors in effective policing.
How do we best manage the thirty six hundred or so sworn officers. Starts first with seeing that they can get to every victim as quickly as possible. Then to assure that victim that get the help they need.
Let me first say that today, the Nation’s Capital has without a doubt the finest Chief of Police, and senior Command staff that this city has ever known. Chief Lanier is clearly the best manager of our policing resources that we have yet to experience. She has in place a well balanced system that not only trains our officers to respond to crime but also to project where the likelihood of crime is to occur. This is all based on data! Data that must be interrupted correctly, and then utilized in the management of the policing resources.
The data compiled each day in each district by PSA is virtually a picture of what has occurred and what is likely to occur in and around the same area. It’s much like a plan based on trends and past occurrences.
This data allows Chief Lanier and Assist Chief of Police Diane Grooms whos job is Patrol Services to apply manpower where it is most likely to be needed. No longer do we have to merely respond to crime but there is anticipation, which allows planning and a proactive approach to fighting crime and reducing crime. The science of which clearly works as we see demonstrated every day.
Response time is the best factual listing of how quickly a police officer arrives at the scene once the call is placed by a citizen for assistance. Calls are prioritized by Unified Communications / 911 and the call dispatched. Response time is vastly important in many of the situations were one’s immediate safety is or could be jeopardized. Armed robbery, assault, and other heinous crimes where the perpetrator has fled the scene required an expedient response. Usually the 911 call taker won’t be certain if there is bodily injury or a possibility of the perpetrator still being in the vicinity.
According to a recent article in the Atlanta Journal Constitution, Atlanta police were the slowest to answer high-priority emergency calls among police departments from seven similar-sized cities. The results were part of a survey of police response times. In Atlanta last year it took, on average, 11 minutes and 12 seconds from the time a high-priority 911 call was received until an Atlanta police officer showed up at the scene. The response times reported by the El Paso (Texas) Police Department were only one second quicker than Atlanta’s, with an average of 11 minutes and 11 seconds.
The Denver Police Department posted a response time of 11 minutes flat. According to the Journal Constitution story, police in Tucson, Ariz., responded, on average, in 10 minutes and 11 seconds.
Police in Kansas City, Mo., and Oklahoma City posted average response times of less than 10 minutes. In Nashville-Davidson County, police recorded average response times below 9 minutes.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution compared police departments responsible for similar-sized populations in comparable-sized areas. The cities compared had to have similar-sized police departments and similar definitions for high-priority calls.
The agencies studied also needed technology in place to track response times using the same methodology. Atlanta police Deputy Chief defended the city’s response time while also saying the department is trying to speed up its arrival to high-priority emergency calls.
“Obviously, we want the times to go down,”
It cited several factors that slow officers down, such as traffic congestion and communication between officers and police dispatchers. Asked to elaborate, the Deputy Chief said he was referring to “getting proper information” from dispatchers to officers.
Criminal justice professor Robbie Friedmann of Georgia State University said that Atlanta’s response time is “not unreasonable” when compared with the other cities.
He added that it takes longer than the public likely thinks to respond to 911 calls.
Chairman Mendelson, these numbers speak highly to the acclaimed efficiency of our training, management and overall actions of the MPD. When you compare some other cities response times to what we generally experience here in the Nation’s Capital then it becomes abundatly clear that under Chief Lanier and her Senior Command Staff, our District Commanders and the rank and file do exceedingly better than national averages already. Clearly demonstrating that their concern and desire to yet improve on these numbers marks a clear promise and proof that they are engaged in doing the very best for our community. Chief Lanier has presented a clear and marketable approach to why she needs this redistricting so that effectually the changes that the city has experience and continue to experience will be met with an upkeep if you will in the delivery of outstanding services for every resident and visitor in the District of Columbia.
Thank you again for the opportunity to offer my thoughts on the proposed redistricting plan presented by Chief Lanier and her staff, she has my full support.