- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 10, 2002

The Metropolitan Police Department needs 404 more officers on the streets to provide adequate coverage for neighborhood patrols, according to an internal department study requested by the D.C. Council.
The internal study, which is more than a year late in being delivered, found the police department needs to place 1,769 of its 3,650 officers on street patrols, instead of the 1,365 officers it currently puts on patrol. Council members have long called for more patrol officers, especially in the aftermath of the September 11 terrorist attacks and reports of increases in homicides.
What's more, the study found the department is not meeting 1997 staffing requirements that call for 1,443 officers on street patrols. The study found inadequate those 1997 staff levels, which were recommended by the management and technology consulting firm Booz Allen & Hamilton.
Police officials say they can provide more patrol officers by removing officers from administrative jobs that can be filled by civilians and new recruits. They say they aim to have the additional 404 officers on the streets by September.
Tuesday night, officials began notifying about 200 officers they are being reassigned from light duty to administrative and communications positions. They will replace officers, including some in specialized units, who are being transferred to street patrols.
Between now and September, other vacancies for patrol officers will be filled by new officers and transfers from other units, said police and city sources familiar with the reassignment plan.
D.C. Council member David A. Catania, a longtime police critic, said he supports the study's recommendations if they are implemented.
"Over the next few weeks and months, we will implement those changes. If they implement this, the results will be immeasurable. I give it my complete endorsement," said Mr. Catania, at-large Republican.
Council member Sharon Ambrose, Ward 6 Democrat, said she is only interested in having more officers in her neighborhoods.
"I don't care how they do it. I want to see more blue shirts out there," said Mrs. Ambrose, whose Ward stretches from Capitol Hill to Anacostia.
The police department was supposed to have delivered the staffing study to the council on Jan. 1, 2001. When it was almost a year overdue, Mr. Catania introduced legislation last month that would require 60 percent of the police force to be put on patrol.
The internal study calls for a little more than 48 percent of the force to be on patrol.
After negotiations with Mayor Anthony A. Williams, the council agreed to reject the measure Dec. 4, after being promised they would receive the study this month.
The department switched from 138 scout-car beats to 83 police service areas (PSAs) in May 1997 to place more officers on patrol.
The study found that 19 to 39 officers are needed in most PSAs to provide adequate service.
The police department's reassignment plan has been approved by Mr. Williams, who plans to release it within the next week. Metropolitan Police Chief Charles H. Ramsey said he could not comment on the plan until it is released.

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