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 Seventh Quarterly Report reflecting its activities from October 1, 2003 through December 31, 2003.
The OIM is in 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 57-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 the completion of a second major statistical sampling of 80 MPD use of force and misconduct investigations conducted by officials within MPD’s chain of command. These investigations are conducted most often in the MPD Districts and units in which the officer against whom the allegation was made performs his duties. Based on the sample results this quarter, the OIM found that only 52% of the investigations reviewed reflected all of the substantive investigative steps and contained all of the documentation required under the MOA and required by generally accepted police practices. Moreover, the OIM found that only 66% of these investigations reflected adequate analysis and evidence to support a reasonable and defensible conclusion. MPD has advised the OIM that it is focusing specific attention on improving the quality and timeliness of chain of command use of force and misconduct investigations. This is an area that the OIM will continue to monitor closely.
This quarter, a survey of MPD’s systems for tracking and administering discipline revealed that MPD has not yet established an effective centralized and formal system for documenting all forms of discipline, as required under the MOA. In response to these findings, MPD promptly reissued a directive instructing unit commanders to forward documentation of all disciplinary actions to the Department Disciplinary Review Office for central filing and tracking. The OIM will monitor the effectiveness of MPD’s efforts to establish a centralized repository and tracking system for disciplinary actions.
In past quarters, the OIM has noted the disappointingly low rate at which MPD officers were completing MOA-required Use of Force Incident Reports (“UFIRs”). This quarter, the OIM observed a significant increase in the frequency with which MPD officers completed UFIRs, which is an encouraging development. Unfortunately, the OIM has found that an unsatisfactory proportion of the UFIRs completed between January 1 and November 30, 2003 was missing required information, such as a supervisor’s signature and findings, the date on which a supervisor was notified of the use of force incident, internal tracking numbers, or narratives describing the incident.
According to Independent Monitor Michael R. Bromwich, a partner and the head of the Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson LLP’s Internal Investigations, Compliance and Monitoring practice group, “We remain concerned with the quality and timeliness of MPD’s chain of command investigations, which serve as MPD’s central tool for addressing allegations of misconduct and ensuring that actual misconduct is promptly and appropriately dealt with. We have brought these concerns to the attention of MPD officials, who continue to demonstrate a constructive attitude in response. By agreement with Chief Ramsey, we will continue to focus on this category of internal investigations in the months ahead to determine whether MPD’s performance in this key area shows the improvement that is necessary.”
Under the MOA, the OIM is required to issue public reports at least on a quarterly basis. The OIM’s Seventh 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.