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  • D.C. Voters' Guide

  •   The Mayoral Survey
    Question 3

    Thursday, August 6, 1998; Page J02

    Seven mayoral candidates whose names will appear on the ballot in the Sept. 15 party primary elections responded in writing to questions posed by The Washington Post. Their responses to the first two questions appeared in prior issues of the District Weekly. The following is the third question and the candidates' answers.

    Question 3: Describe in specific terms the most important steps you would undertake to make the police department more effective.

    Democratic Party

    Harold Brazil: Washington can learn from other large cities such as Chicago, Kansas City, and New York. Throughout my tenure on the city council, I have called for an independent office of Public Safety Commissioner, with authority to supervise the police department and insulate it from political interference, and also to deal with corruption and integrity issues and coordinate Washington's various public safety agencies. The Commissioner's first duty should be a complete audit of the department, as Chief [Charles H.] Ramsey has requested -- a far more comprehensive audit than the recent Booz-Allen study. The chief can then turn his attention to choosing good district commanders, giving them reliable data and the resources they need to do the job, and holding them accountable for achieving their goals. The mayor and council must give the chief the necessary funding to get the job done. I would recommend redeployment of 1,000 officers to patrol the neighborhoods, and I would create a strong team of citizens and experts to recommend a plan to eliminate guns and drugs from our city. Zero tolerance for crime and a solid partnership between the elected leadership, the MPD [Metropolitan Police Department] and our neighborhood organizations will bring us safe streets and neighborhoods.

    Kevin P. Chavous: The safety and security of our neighborhoods is essential to the District's economic health and quality of life. Consistent, timely and efficient law enforcement must be balanced by intensive crime prevention efforts and early intervention strategies. Police misconduct cannot be tolerated. My administration will work with the MPD to support adequate budgets, management improvements, and training and technology requirements. We will, through properly spending federal funds and local tax dollars, enable the MPD to: 1) offer competitive salaries and benefits to both uniform and civilian employees. 2) establish a training relationship with a local university. I encourage reestablishing the cadet program to guide future officers from high school through college and ultimately to service on the MPD. 3) get more officers on the street and increase community patrols. My administration will support the expanded hiring of skilled civilian employees for desk jobs. 4) adopt up-to-date policing technologies, with training and testing. Our force will have the designated equipment, hardware and software for seamless communication with federal and regional law enforcement agencies, rapid identification of suspects and filing of police reports. 5) work with the social services and juvenile justice systems to develop policies for intensive supervision of at-risk youth, especially those in the first phase of delinquent behavior.

    Jack Evans: I would do the following to make the police department more effective: 1) Free up uniformed officers to go on street patrol by hiring at least 100 additional civilian employees to perform administrative and support tasks. 2) Put at least 1,000 more police officers out of the office and onto the street within one year. 3) Develop rapid response teams to handle emergency calls. 4) Implement automated field reporting to reduce the time it takes to process reports. 5) Conduct thorough background checks of recruits. 6) Implement standardized testing of new recruits. 7) Require a two-year college degree or equivalent experience for new recruits. 8) Establish a cooperative recruitment program with local colleges and universities to identify, educate and train quality recruits. 9) Reinstate remedial classes for new recruits and current officers. 10) Use pay incentives to attract new recruits from the military. 11) Help officers establish residency in communities where they work. 12) Establish regional command centers, community substations and "beat teams". 13) Restructure shifts to foster community policing by allowing time for problem solving. 14) Establish performance standards. 15) Give raises to officers who meet standards, seek higher education or undertake professional development. 16) Increase the pay scale for all officers.

    Jeffrey Gildenhorn: I would first start with requiring rigorous physical and mental standards, beginning at the training level at the police academy. Our police department should require all rookies to be as disciplined as U.S. Marine recruits. Our officers must not only be physically fit for the job, but mentally prepared as well. To attract only the finest officers we must offer them the highest monetary benefits, paying more than any other city in the country. We are the capital of the world. Our men and women in blue must be representative of only the highest standards. We must deploy more officers in the streets and back up our officers with state of the art equipment. We must overhaul our 911 Emergency System recruiting only those individuals who measure up psychologically. The stressful job of responding to 911 calls requires a high degree of judgment, attention and detail. We must maximize their performance with standards they meet through yearly evaluations by their superiors. Last but not least, we must rely on a judicial system that takes a hard line on felony offenders. We as Washingtonians must respect, admire and acknowledge our men and women in blue every chance we get.

    Anthony A. Williams: I will not claim success as Mayor of this city until we can walk home after dark or allow our children to play outside without fear. I will work with Chief Charles Ramsey to make two important changes: 1) Move police into the neighborhoods. I will ensure that every neighborhood has a dedicated, effective neighborhood police team, which patrols on foot or on bicycle regularly and reliably. Officers will spend time, building a trusting relationship with neighbors, working in partnership to deter crime. 2) Fix support systems to help police do their job. I will ensure that we quickly fix 911 services so that every resident and business receives a quick response. We will repair our rotting station houses and make sure officers have decent supplies and well functioning equipment. We will provide and require better training for our officers. We will attract and retain the best and brightest by paying officers fairly. Finally, we will have crime statistics audited to ensure accountability.

    Republican Party

    Carol Schwartz: Our police department should represent the moral authority of our government. If it is not beyond reproach, the very foundation of our society is shaken. As mayor, working with the police chief, I will make certain our police force is well-trained, well-equipped, well-paid and visible. I want to see stringent background checks and training which includes ethics and diversity awareness. I want a police force where members who report wrongdoing and make suggestions for improvements are rewarded, not punished. Because of allegations within the police department, I offered the roughest whistleblower protections legislation in the country, which is now law. It was testimony I requested on my whistleblower bill which brought about the council's in-depth police investigative hearings that should lead to improvements in the department. Civilian oversight is a must, and I will work with the council in ensuring the reestablishment of a review board. I want to stop the exodus of well-trained and experienced officers. Competitive salaries will help. But, equally important, I want to bring our men and women in blue the respect they once had. D.C.'s finest will mean just that once again.

    D.C. Statehood Party

    John Gloster: The best thing we can do is to place the officers amongst the people as often as possible. I would strive to develop more police substations, especially in troubled areas. We need more police on bikes, especially in the summer when children are out of school. This type of presence is more intimate and direct, non-threatening yet extremely flexible and mobile. Of course Boys and Girls Club activities should be stressed over the summers. Finally, we need to bring back the civilian review board. There have been very disturbing lapses of professionalism, from excessive use of force to cronyism and corruption, that are fostered by the closed-to-the-public status of the department.

    Next Week: The candidates are asked what they would do to create new jobs in the city.

    © Copyright 1998 The Washington Post Company

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