An article in yesterday's Metro section about a reshuffling of the D.C. police department should have said that police districts in Northeast Washington, as well as Northwest, have new commanders. (Published 01/07/2000)
Three months shy of completing his second year as D.C. police chief, Charles H. Ramsey announced another sweeping department reorganization yesterday with the promotion or reassignment of 13 high-ranking officials, ushering in what he called a "new millennium and a new era for the department."
The move, described by Ramsey as a "minor adjustment," nevertheless shepherds in yet another new command staff that Ramsey said he hopes will play a critical role in achieving his goal for 2000--reducing crime by 50 percent.
"And once we cut it in half, it's still not enough," Ramsey said, in a revival-style news conference before the ranks he tapped for promotion.
In a move to foster morale and partnership between the brass and the street officers, Ramsey ordered all his "whiteshirts"--an often derogatory term used for the upper ranks--to start wearing blue shirts. Even Ramsey banished the bright white from his closet.
"Morale is high now," he said.
More than half of the District's seven police districts got new commanders yesterday, all of them in Northwest Washington. Two assistant chiefs were reassigned to new commands; a commander was promoted to assistant chief; three commanders were shuffled; and seven captains are now commanders. None of the reassignments was a demotion, Ramsey said.
The reorganization is focused on neighborhoods struggling with the crime that comes with open-air drug markets, prostitution and the conflict inherent in economic diversity, Ramsey said. He said his biggest priorities were to wipe out open-air drug markets and make better headway with solving homicide cases--something dismally lacking in 1999, he acknowledged.
Since 1990, the department has undergone at least five reorganizations, the last of which took place in September 1998, when Ramsey, five months into the job, unveiled a restructuring of the 3,500-plus-member force.
Ramsey said the primary reason for the latest changes was to thwart the status quo of a department long plagued by mismanagement. "I think the Metropolitan Police Department is stronger as we move into 2000 in its efforts to make the city more safe," Ramsey said. "But we have a long way to go."
He denied that the changes represent a major overhaul in the department's management structure. "I look for stability," he said. "I don't look to shake things up." But he said the changes were necessary "in order to strengthen the department and put people in positions where they can do the most good."
It was not immediately known what the exact salary increases would be for those promoted, but a captain's starting salary is $60,000, and a commander's is $82,000, according to the department's 1998 annual report, the latest available. The starting salary of an assistant chief is $97,000, according to the report.
Mark Beach, who was promoted from captain to commander, will continue to lead the Mobile Force, and he said the unit will strive to be more vigilant in interrogating suspects to glean information about the sources of crime. The unit, a squad of 50 to 70 officers who work overtime to target specific problem areas or crimes, will be more visible in the community, Beach said.
The 1998 reorganization included the promotion of 11 officials within Ramsey's command staff to key positions. At the time, Ramsey said he had "inherited a department in crisis," and he demoted four officials and reassigned others to newly created positions. After yesterday's news conference, Ramsey said he would not hesitate to again reorganize his command staff if it fails to perform to his liking.
Though more than half of the police districts will be in transition with new commanders this morning, proponents of the chief's actions said the change will not foster instability.
"The department was lethargic and maybe needed some shock therapy, some bold changes," said D.C. Council member Harold Brazil (D-At Large).
Council member Jim Graham (D-Ward 1) said he's already met with the new commanders in his ward and is confident they understand its problems.
"I'm optimistic we're going to see a new period of vitality," Graham said.
Assistant Chief Alfred Broadbent was moved from the Institute of Police Science to head the Special Services Command. Broadbent replaced Assistant Chief Brian Jordan, who will head the Office of Professional Responsibility. Shannon Cockett was promoted to assistant chief and left her post as commander of the 2nd District to replace Broadbent at the institute.
Capt. Peter Newsham was promoted to replace Cockett as commander of the 2nd District. Capt. Anthony Poteat was promoted to become the new commander of the 5th District. Capts. Joseph Griffith and Christopher Lojocana were both promoted to commander to serve in Operations Command. Capt. Evelyn Primas was made a commander and will supervise the Communications Division.
Capt. Christopher Cooch was a made a commander and will head the department's Forensic Services Division. Cmdr. Joseph Acosta was reassigned to the department's Special Investigations Division. Cmdr. Ross Swope was reassigned to head the 3rd District. And Cmdr. Abraham Parks will lead the 4th District.
CAPTION: D.C. Police Chief Charles H. Ramsey tells reporters about changes and promotions in the department, but he said he doesn't "look to shake things up."