D.C. police official trying to fix culture that left relative's slaying unsolved

Ozetta Posey with members of her squad in Washington DC.
Ozetta Posey with members of her squad in Washington DC. (Mark Gail - Washington Post)
By Clarence Williams
Friday, July 16, 2010

It was near dawn, the last call of Ozetta Posey's midnight shift but her first homicide as a detective. A sheet covered the body, which was soaked by the early-morning downpour. Her job was to secure the scene until homicide detectives arrived.

"Who is it?" Posey asked her partner as they walked in the quiet, past rowhouses in upper Northwest.

"It's a guy with a hole in his head," Posey recalled him saying.

Curious, she knelt, pulled back the sheet and found herself staring at the familiar face of her brother-in-law. The two had been together for hours on the previous day.

This coincidental encounter changed the arc of Posey's career. Her personal and professional lives had intersected and, more than seven years later, remain intertwined. In her estimation, the investigation was botched, her family mistreated.

"It's still open because they never did a proper investigation from the beginning," said Posey, who decided to do something about it.

Now she is a homicide lieutenant, and for the past three years one of her two squads has had the highest closure rate in the city. She helped establish new rules for investigators, often rankling colleagues with her blunt, by-the-book style.

Cut no corners. Work all angles.

'Dead or in jail'

The daughter of a military man, Posey was raised throughout the mid-Atlantic states and played college basketball. She became a police officer in 1994. She started in patrol, during the height of the city's crack wars.

Posey, 47, moved to the vice unit, buying narcotics from street-level dealers. The work was exciting but frustrating.

"You want to lock up all the drug dealers in the world, then you lock up one and you realize you have eight more to take his place," Posey said.

Eventually, she made detective and was assigned to the 4th District in upper Northwest, the assignment that led her to the scene of her brother-in-law's slaying.

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