- The Washington Times - Monday, July 24, 2006

A Metropolitan Police Department commander who was removed from his post for making a racially insensitive remark has been reinstated to the position, officials said yesterday.

Acting Cmdr. Andy Solberg of the 2nd District received an official reprimand from Metropolitan Police Chief Charles H. Ramsey as disciplinary action for the comments he made during a July 10 community meeting in Georgetown.

The commander also said he was ordered by Chief Ramsey to re-watch the movie “Crash” — the 2004 Oscar-winning movie dealing with race relations in Los Angeles — and creating a lesson plan about the movie that the department can teach academy recruits.

“I’m honored that the chief feels like he has enough confidence in me to put me back in this position,” Cmdr. Solberg said yesterday. “I feel incredibly humbled by this whole process because I certainly feel that remarks I made were responsible for a lot of confusion and anger and frustration within the community.”

Cmdr. Solberg was reassigned to the department’s security-services division over his remarks regarding suspects arrested in the July 9 slaying of British political activist Alan Senitt.

“I would think that at 2 a.m. on the streets of Georgetown, a group of three people — one of whom is 15 years old, one of whom is a bald, chunky, fat guy — are going to stand out,” he said during a community meeting at a Georgetown church. “They were black. This is not a racial thing to say that black people are unusual in Georgetown. This is a fact of life.”

Chief Ramsey said the reinstatement followed an investigation into the comments by the department’s Office of Professional Responsibility.

“The investigation did not reveal anything that would cause me to permanently relieve him of his command, so he was put back in 2D,” Chief Ramsey said.

Police officials also said “disciplinary action” was taken against Cmdr. Solberg, and they could not comment on the specific actions because of personnel privacy rights.

But Cmdr. Solberg said Chief Ramsey notified him of the official reprimand — which is the highest form of discipline the department can dole out without a suspension — after roll call Saturday night in the 1st District, where Cmdr. Solberg had been working overtime as part of the city’s emergency crime initiative.

The commander also said Chief Ramsey had been wanting to incorporate “Crash” into department training for some time, and he was chosen to create the lesson plan because of his background in education. Cmdr. Solberg holds a master’s degree in philosophy from American University and taught English at Cardozo High School in the District.

“I now am in a unique position with a unique perspective, and [I’m] able to go out into the community and make sure our police efforts are all-inclusive,” Cmdr. Solberg said. “I really do think that’s got to be part of my mission now.”

Cmdr. Solberg’s reassignment prompted an outcry among some Georgetown-area residents, who yesterday said they were glad to have him back in the 2nd District.

“I think he’s truly learned from this experience,” said Samantha Nolan, chairman of the 2nd District’s Citizens Advisory Committee, “and he will be a better commander having gone through this.”

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