- The Washington Times - Monday, July 7, 2003

The D.C. Council is expected to approve a $25,000-a-year pay raise for Metropolitan Police Chief Charles H. Ramsey today, but it might not be enough to keep the chief in the District.

Council Chairman Linda W. Cropp yesterday withdrew separate legislation that would authorize retirement benefits for the chief because it was unlikely that resolution would have been approved. Mayor Anthony A. Williams last week asked that the council approve the pay raise and benefits today.

Several council members have said the chief’s raise should be based on performance, citing recent increases in the city’s homicide rate.

The pay raise would allow Chief Ramsey to earn $175,000 a year and requires approval by a simple majority of seven of the 13 council members.

The benefits package would allow the chief to receive just over $60,000 a year if he retires after serving another five years in the police department. It also would guarantee him six-months severance pay if he is fired without cause. It requires a two-thirds vote for approval — at least nine council votes.

Chief Ramsey did not return calls seeking comment yesterday but has said he would consider leaving the District if the raise and benefits were not approved.

The council’s Judiciary Committee was reviewing the benefits resolution because altering the chief’s retirement plan would require changing D.C. law.

Council member Kathy Patterson, Ward 3 Democrat, heads the committee and opposes the pay raise and benefits package for Chief Ramsey. She had blocked the benefits resolution from reaching the full council.

Mrs. Cropp, at-large Democrat, had planned to force a vote on the resolution today by introducing it on an emergency basis at Mr. Williams’ request.

“I think there was a majority, but I don’t know if there was a supermajority for an emergency [resolution],” Mrs. Cropp said yesterday.

She also said the emergency resolution would only be effective for a limited time, adding that “the chief wants something permanent.”

Council members Adrian M. Fenty, Ward 4 Democrat, and Phil Mendelson, at-large Democrat, along with Mrs. Patterson have expressed opposition to any raise or benefits increase for Chief Ramsey.

Council member Jack Evans, Ward 1 Democrat, supports the pay raise and the benefits package, but would not have supported overriding a committee chairman by passing a benefits package on an emergency basis.

Council sources said several other council members expressed similar reservations.

Seven members could pass a seldom-used “discharge petition” to force the resolution out of the Judiciary Committee. Such a move, however, would set an unpopular precedent for the 13-member council, which has 12 members serving as committee chairmen.

In an interview with The Washington Times last week, Chief Ramsey declined to discuss what he would do if the council did not approve the pay and benefits package.

“I’ll cross it when it comes,” the chief said. “We’ve got crime to fight, and let’s just stay focused on doing that. If decisions come along in life, you make them as they come up. But to try to predict them, to think about it, I’m not going to get into all that.”

Tony Bullock, a spokesman for Mr. Williams, said the council is not considering the “potential consequences” of refusing the package.

“The retirement piece is important to [Chief Ramsey],” Mr. Bullock said. “I think he’s made it pretty clear that he wants both parts of the package. One without the other is not what he would have hoped to see.”

Mr. Bullock said Mr. Williams would likely reintroduce the benefits resolution this fall and hope for a different outcome.

“We have one member of the council who is not allowing the vote to take place because she has other ideas about what the chief should be doing and what the contract should include.” he said, referring to Mrs. Patterson. “We have issues with that. This is an executive function. It’s a management issue.”

Mrs. Patterson said Chief Ramsey hasn’t done enough to control crime, hasn’t put enough officers in city neighborhoods and hasn’t improved the department’s performance in criminal investigations. Asked why she decided not to release the resolution for a full council vote, she responded: “I don’t support it.”

Chief Ramsey has said that crime is lower than when he took the job in April 1998, that he has revamped the department’s training and technology and that he has not had a raise in five years.

He said he will not attend today’s hearing. “Whatever they do, they do,” he said last week. “I’ll read about it.”

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