- The Washington Times - Friday, December 6, 2002

Metropolitan Police Chief Charles H. Ramsey yesterday said he may remove some detectives from the violent-crimes branch because they are not solving enough murder cases.
As of yesterday, there were 245 homicides in the city this year, compared with 233 all of last year. Detectives had closed about 49 percent of the cases.
"There is nothing more serious than the crime of murder," Chief Ramsey said on WTOP Radio's "Ask the Chief" program. "A 49-percent closure rate is an embarrassment to me, and it ought to be an embarrassment to every single member of the Metropolitan Police Department because it's pitiful. It's not where it ought to be."
The case-closure rate reached 70.1 percent in 1997, the year before Chief Ramsey took over. It has declined since, finishing last year at 48.6 percent.
The chief said he is conducting a year-end review of the violent-crimes branch and its 48 detectives. Detectives who are not performing satisfactorily will be informed of their deficiencies and transferred out of the unit if necessary, he said.
Most detectives perform well and only a "very small minority" are not performing adequately, Chief Ramsey added.
"We've got some very good detectives, but we've got some people who are not carrying their weight period," he said. "The criteria for deciding who moves and who stays is very simple: You have got to close a case on occasion. We've got some people that have, like, a zero closure rate, and that's totally unacceptable."
The chief said the unit is making progress, noting that officers met Wednesday with the U.S. Attorney's Office to get arrest warrants for seven suspects. They obtained four. Chief Ramsey said he's aware of the difficulties of in closing cases but offered no excuse for his detectives.
"There's witnesses that won't come forward, there's discussions with the U.S. attorney and debates over whether or not charges ought to be placed. All those kind of issues figure into clearance rates," Chief Ramsey said. "But when I review these cases and I see leads that haven't been followed up on and basic fundamental work that hasn't been done from canvassing on, I've got to take action on that."
Chief Ramsey said finding experienced homicide detectives also has been a problem. When the violent-crimes branch was recentralized a year ago, he issued an announcement for 48 detectives to work in the unit. Only 30 detectives applied. The other 18 had to be "drafted."
The chief said the department has lost many experienced detectives to retirement, but he is working to get legislation through the D.C. Council that would allow retired detectives to return to the department in an advisory capacity.

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