Citizen complaints ranging from minor verbal disputes to physical abuse are filed against the D.C. police department at the rate of one a day, according to statisics released yesterday by Police Chief Burtell M. Jefferson.
Jefferson released the statisics following several media inquiries about allegations of a rise in police brutality complaints.
Yesterday's figures covered a 56-month period, including 1975 through 1978, along with the first four months of 1974 and 1979 for comparison purposes, Jefferson said.
In the 56-month period, there were 1,863 complaints, averaging about 33 a month, or just over one a day, Jefferson said.
Jefferson told a news conference that his department has not completed a review that would show the disposition of the cases. However, a preliminary report made available to He Washington Post showed that of the 1,863 cases, 1,712 have been classified as "unfounded," by the department. The report also showed that 784 of the cases involved complaints of physical abuse and that of those, 587 alleged excessive use of force without a weapon.
In addition, the report showed that 151 complaints were found justified by police officials, and indicated that 133 officers had been "counseled," five received letters of reprimand and one officer resigned. Seven other officers received more serious letters of reprimand and five were sent before trial boards.
Jefferson also announced that from now on the Field Inspections Division of the department will begin compiling the citizen complaints and will make monthly reports to him. Reviously, complaints against police officers were kept separately at the department's various station houses around the city.
Jefferson said in addition that he and Mayor Marion Barry have discussed the possible rivival of the city's citizen Complaint Review Board, which has been idle several years.
"I would welcome it," Jefferson said in response to a question. "I have no problems with it."
"It is interesting to note," he said, "that less than half (42 percent) of all complaints filed alleged any form of physical abuse. Further, allegations of abuse using any type of weapon constituted just one percent."
In announcing the new complaint recording system, Jefferson said, "While I believe that the number of times my officers overstep their bounds is very small, I don't think we can ever afford to be satisfied."
He said the complaints statistics released yesterday do not include allegations that are presented to the Internal Affairs Division of the police department. The IAD investigates all criminal wrongdoing by police as well as some violations of departmental regulations. He number of officers that have been brought before the IAD on civilian complaint charges is expected to be announced later, police officials said.