The Office of the Independent Monitor ("OIM"), which is headed by Independent Monitor Michael R. Bromwich of Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson LLP, today issued its Eighth Quarterly Report reflecting its activities from January 1, 2004 through March 31, 2004. The OIM now has completed its second year of monitoring compliance with the landmark Memorandum of Agreement (“MOA”) entered into in June 2001 among the District of Columbia, the Metropolitan Police Department (“MPD” or the “Department”), and the Department of Justice (“DOJ”) on use of force issues and related matters. The 70-page report assesses MPD’s and the City’s compliance with the full range of MOA requirements and includes the OIM’s findings related to its ongoing detailed examination of MPD internal investigations.
The MOA requires the OIM to review and report on the implementation of a series of reforms agreed to by the City and MPD and contained in the MOA. These reforms include establishing appropriate policies for the use of force, handling internal investigations of the use of force, investigating allegations of misconduct against MPD officers, creating management and computer systems to ensure civil rights integrity, and training. The OIM will assess MPD’s compliance with the terms of the MOA for a period of five years from the signing of the agreement.
The OIM engaged in a wide range of monitoring activities this quarter, including an extensive review of canine team deployments and incidents in which a suspect received a bite from an MPD canine during an apprehension. MPD’s Canine Unit has made significant progress in achieving substantial compliance with the MOA. The OIM found that approximately 98% of canine deployments in 2003 either were approved by an appropriate supervisor or were made under exigent circumstances justifying the absence of supervisor approval. The OIM also found that in 2003 MPD’s Canine Unit reported 88 apprehensions, 16 of which involved a bite to the suspect. This 18% “bite to apprehension ratio” is within the range that police experts generally agree is acceptable for a major police department.
This quarter, MPD suffered a significant funding-related setback with respect to the development of the Department’s Personnel Performance Management System (“PPMS”), the implementation of which is a central requirement of the MOA. PPMS is intended to be an integrated, computerized database of information related to the performance of MPD officers that is to be designed to enable MPD to, among other things, proactively identify and manage at-risk officers, conduct, and situations. As a result of this funding crisis, the PPMS development project has stalled. The ultimate impact that the interruption in PPMS development will have on MPD’s ability to meet the current timetable providing for full implementation of PPMS by February 25, 2005 remains to be seen.
The OIM also conducted a substantial review of police misconduct investigations performed by the District’s Office of Citizen Complaint Review (“OCCR”). Our review found that OCCR has taken, on average, over a year to close investigations into citizen allegations of officer misconduct. OCCR has acknowledged that the timeliness of its investigations must improve, and the agency has taken certain steps to improve in this regard. Our review also found that, although in many respects the quality of OCCR’s investigations is quite good, there is room for improvement.
According to Independent Monitor Michael R. Bromwich, a partner and the head of Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson LLP’s Internal Investigations, Compliance and Monitoring practice group, “MPD continues to make significant strides towards compliance with the terms of the Memorandum of Agreement, as documented in this report. However, the problems with PPMS funding threaten a key element of the Agreement. MPD and the District government need to make every effort to ensure timely and complete funding for PPMS to prevent delays in its development and implementation from undermining MPD’s overall compliance with the Agreement. In addition, as we have documented in this and prior reports, MPD continues to need to make improvements in the timeliness and sufficiency of its internal investigations into allegations of use of force and misconduct. Such improvements in the timeliness and sufficiency of investigations also need to be made by OCCR in its probing of citizen allegations of police misconduct."
Under the MOA, the OIM is required to issue public reports at least on a quarterly basis. The OIM’s Eighth Quarterly Report, as well as its other reports and materials relating to the MOA, including the full text of the MOA itself, are available to the public on the OIM’s Web site, www.policemonitor.org.