- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 4, 2001

D.C. Council member David A. Catania said he will introduce emergency legislation today that would require the Metropolitan Police Department to put 60 percent of its officers on street patrols.
Mr. Catania, at-large Republican, said about 45 percent of the police department's 3,650 officers currently patrol neighborhoods, which have experienced an increase in crime since officers were assigned to security patrols at federal and city facilities after the September 11 terrorist attacks.
He said his legislation would require three-fourths of the 2,190 patrol officers to be divided evenly among the District's seven police districts and one-fourth of those officers (about 547) to be used in high-crime areas.
Mr. Catania said he believes he has the support of nine members of the council's 13 members to pass the emergency bill, which Mayor Anthony A. Williams would have 10 days to sign before it becomes law automatically.
Council sources said the panel is likely to pass the bill because of their frustration with the police department. "They don't have the control board to run to anymore," a source said, referring to the recently disbanded financial control board.
Police Chief Charles H. Ramsey said yesterday that the police were working on a new manpower study when the terrorist attacks occurred. Because of the attacks, he said, they delayed a decision.
"If they pass it, we'll have to go along with it," he said. "But there are some problems that we would have to face. I would have to shut down some entire units."
Mr. Williams has also asked the council to delay taking any action until all sides can get together.
Mr. Catania, a longtime police critic, has proffered similar legislation as recently as last year. He said he made the 60 percent figure a goal, not a requirement, after Chief Ramsey had promised to deliver a manpower study showing that most officers are patrolling neighborhoods. The study has not been done.
"They just blew us off. Now there will be some consequences," Mr. Catania said.
"I gave the police department an opportunity to come forward with the study. We gave them an opportunity to tell us why that [60 percent on patrols] would not work," he said.
Chief Ramsey said that the requirement of the bill that two-thirds of the patrol officers had to work each day also could affect his deployment of officers on days when more crimes traditionally are committed.
The Washington Times reported Friday that the police department is working on a manpower study and is reviewing assigning officers from special details and task forces to street patrols.
The Times also reported that the 300-member special operations division (SOD) will not get additional officers, as it had been promised by police officials two weeks ago.
SOD provides SWAT teams, riot control, canine units, motorcycle patrols, helicopter and harbor patrols. The police department aimed to increase staffing so that fewer patrol officers would have to be deployed to its civil disturbance units.
Many of the police department's officers are assigned to administrative, special details or task forces, or are on disability. Mr. Catania said the department lists many officers as being assigned to patrols in Police Service Areas (PSAs) when they are really detailed to work elsewhere.
"We have still not seen the assignments anecdotally. They may be assigned to a PSA, but then they are assigned somewhere else," Mr. Catania said. "They maybe look like they are covering your PSAs, but they are not serving in those assignments."
He said residents and officers complain to him regularly that there are not enough officers on the streets.
"This is about the safety of our communities. It is about the safety of our officers," the council member said. "When our officers are so spread out, we are putting officers' lives at risk. They can't get back up."

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