- The Washington Times - Monday, May 12, 2003

Rank-and-file members of the Metropolitan Police Department are upset that Chief Charles H. Ramsey was given a 17 percent pay raise this week, a police union spokesman said yesterday.

“It’s like we’re in a tug of war for resources, and we’re the ones who go out and make arrests and put our lives on the line,” said Sgt. Gregory I. Greene, the police union’s acting head.

“We’re in favor of anything that makes our job easier, and this administration is in favor of anything that makes the manager’s jobs easier. That’s the problem. What the chief needs to do is support the officers,” he said.

Sgt. Greene estimated that as much as 90 percent of MPD’s rank-and-file officers are dissatisfied with Chief Ramsey and departmental leadership. Rank-and-file officers make up about 75 percent of the force’s 3,625 personnel, he said.

Officers are upset that during a time of a budget crisis and department cuts, Chief Ramsey was given a 57-month contract extension that increases his annual salary from $150,000 to $175,000 — the third-highest in the city’s government.

The chief also has come under fire recently from some D.C. Council members for his management of personnel.

Council members Kathy Patterson, Ward 3 Democrat; Adrian M. Fenty, Ward 4 Democrat, and Phil Mendelsohn, at-large Democrat, said yesterday they intend to vote against the chief’s pay raise when it comes before the council later this month.

In an interview, Chief Ramsey yesterday responded to these criticisms, as well as charges that the city is no better off than when he came here in April 1998.

“I don’t know of too much in Washington that goes without periods of criticism,” he said. “That doesn’t mean it’s founded. This department is far better off than when I came here, and it will even better off when I leave.”

He said he has not decided if he will leave when the new contract expires in 2008.

Responding to charges that the city cannot afford his pay raise, Chief Ramsey noted that it would be his first in five years, and said he will not receive any more raises for the next five years. Rank-and-file officers, he said, have received raises each of the past five years.

“What we’re talking about is one pay raise over 10 years. How is that in any way, shape or form gouging the government?” he said.

The chief estimated that if he had received raises on the same schedule as the rest of the department for the past five years, his salary would be about $186,000.

“I lead a very large and complex organization, and I think the compensation is fair,” he said.

Chief Ramsey’s pay raise occurred the same week that the council approved a $3.76 billion operating budget while facing a $323 million shortfall.

The chief also rebuffed the idea that city streets are more dangerous under his leadership.

“That’s not true, and the statistics don’t bear it out,” he said. “It’s better than it was, and even though murders are up, they’re not as bad as when I got here.”

Homicides have risen 24 percent in the past year, according to police statistics. Since Chief Ramsey’s arrival in April 1998, the District has had 35 percent fewer homicides per year than it did in the five years preceding his tenure.

From 1993 to 1997, there were 1,911 homicides in the District, compared to 1,238 since. That’s an average of 382 per year before Chief Ramsey and 248 under him.

With his pay raise, Chief Ramsey enters a tie as the District’s third-highest-paid city worker. Schools Superintendent Paul L. Vance also earns $175,000 a year.

Only D.C. Sports and Entertainment Commission President Bobby Goldwater, who earns $275,000 a year, and William Pollard, who earns $200,000 a year as president of the University of the District of Columbia, make more than Chief Ramsey. The mayor earns $142,000 a year.

Chief Ramsey is the longest-serving police chief since Maurice T. Turner Jr., who served eight years in the 1980s.

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