[Note - feel free to disregard all of this as the mad opinions of a neandertal yokel agitating in the suburban hinterlands of Rockville, and feel free to dismiss all of this a pure insanity and fabrication with no supporting evidence. Or go find a copy of the 27 Feb 1997 Washington Post and you too can read between the lines.][Note - much of the material here is sourced from the Washington Post]
"Shape up quickly, or we will ship you out." This is the message being sent to the beleagered Washington Metropolitan Police Department by its newly-empowered Chief.
Recently, the District of Columbia Financial Responsibility and Management Assistance Authority (the "Control Board") gave Police Chief Larry Soulsby unprecedented power over the Metropolitan Police. Formerly referred to as "Lying Larry" or the "do-nothing chief", Soulsby has had a reputation for promising what he cannot deliver. Chief Soulsby is not entirely to blame, not personally - he has for 18 months presided over a police department hamstrung by many forces. The near-shutdown of the District brought on by years of inept management, wasteful spending, a crony-riddled procurements-system and fiscal receivership had left the local police nearly powerless, heirs to a decaying fleet of dilapidated vehicle and antiquated equipment more fitting to some war-blasted third world monrovia than to the proud capital of the Free World. It goes without saying that the few determined attempts by Chief Soulsby to actually change anything around the District were quickly put to an end by the eternal and misplaced meddlings of Mayor Marion Barry and his close associates, many of whom are now under investigation and occasionally indictment for questionable practices.
However, now the Chief has the power to not only fire top-level underlings without any interference by the Mayor, but to also affect rank-and-file appointments. Previously such lower-level officers had been protected by collective-bargaining agreements which some allege had permitted gross incompetence to not only flourish, but be rewarded. (In fairness, this is not limited to the Metro PD - this is, and has been, a city-wide problem for at least a decade.) Soulsby maintains that there will be radical changes coming concerning promotions, hirings and firings of officers. Noting that while over 1,100 MPD officers made no arrests whatsoever last year, and only 27 made over 100 arrests in a city where crime runs amok and lead flies like spring rain (Beirut is, statistically, almost twice as safe as Washington DC), there would henceforth be promotions and raises only for officers who produce.
Who got fired?
Assistant Chief Max J. Krupo: Head of Human Resources, this is the person directly responsible for the hiring and firing of the officers who comprised a police force that has only 1 in 10 officers actually out patrolling in squad cars, where over one-third of the force made no arrests in the last year (though some would say his hands were tied by the City of Washington's lax and byzantine personnel-regulations and collective-bargaining agreements).
Deputy Chief Charles R. Bacon Jr.: I'm really not sure why D.C Bacon had to go. He was a 29-year veteran who oversaw the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 7th police districts, which were at times all very badly hit by the crime wave which started in the mid-80s and has held the city in a grip of terror since.
Deputy Chief Claude J. Beheler: No telling why he was fired. He was hand-picked by Chief Soulsby in December 1995.
Deputy Chief Wyndell C. Watkins Sr.: Reputedly D.C Watkins was positioning himself to be the next Chief of Police. But some might wonder if it might be that he might be considered as unfit for the ofice he held, which was Support Services. Support Services was not simply the "donwtown garage" or vehicle maintenance - no, Support Services was in charge of criminal investigations, narcotics, special investigations and special operations. D.C. Watkins was in charge of this sector since September 1995, and while some inroads had been made in the local narcotics trade, and a few gangsters busted, still, one would have haped that he would have made substantially-greater gains upon ascension to his position. He didn't. He's outta here.
Replacements, who will share power broadly through the departments and will report directly to Soulsby, were:
Michael Fitzgerald: He will head Support Services. Until this appointment, he has been head of the relatively well-policed 4th District. However, he arrives under the shadow of reported racial conflicts among officers under his command.
Rodney D. Monroe: An 19-year verteran, once a commander of the special operations division and special assistant to then-chief Isaac Fulwood Jr, he will oversee all seven police districts.
Sonya T. Proctor: the appointment of Ms. Proctor is an absolute stroke of genius on the part of Chief Soulsby. Former head of Internal Affairs, recently commanding the 3rd district, she will become the chief of Human Resources. If there is a bad apple on the force, chances are she already knows who they are and what they're about, and now she has the power to hire and fire. Look for a vast reduction of deadwood on the force, and the application of a firm resolve to make the Metro PD once again the envy of other forces, instead of a management case-study of how not to do things. Free of most of the restriants of political-cronyism under the Barry Administration as well as being unencumbered by the previously-ridiculous collective-bargaining and City-civil-service regulations, she will be able to adjust the personnel of the MPD until once again, aided by the $15-million infusion of real-property procurements held-but-unspent by the Control Board, the city police will be ready, willing, and able (and motivated by the fear-of-god-and-ms-proctor) to kick butt, take names and make the city safe for the citizens of and visitors to Washington.
"We intend...to make public safety the highest priority in the city," said interim DC Council Chairman Chalene Drew Jarvis.
US Attorney Holder is quoted as calling the plan the "rebirth of the Metropolitan Police Department".
All of this comes on the heels of the deaths of two District policement within three weeks. One, Officer Brian T. Gibson, was shot while waiting at a traffic light near the Ibex Club (now defunct, closed by the city), killed without warning by (allegedly) a drunken patron of that club; a second officer, Oliver Wendell Smith Jr, was shot Wednesday morning outside his home in Prince George's County Maryland, apparently by a robber who took off with his gun and wallet, and possibly his badge.
Clearly this shake-up, and empowerment of the District chief of Police is long overdue, but in my opinion, it does not go far enough. The Mayor still has to power to undo all of these changes simply by firing Chief Soulsby. In my opinion, the Control Board has not gone far enough.
The Control Board has one more change to make before these far-reaching restructuring moves can have any permanent and meaningful impact - Police Chief Soulsby, to be effective, cannot any longer operate under the threat of a politically-motivated upset of his revisions. He must be removed from under the authority of Mayor Marion Barry. For too long, according to mid-level officers interviewed anonymously by the Post, top-level decisionmaking had been paralyzed by the politicization of those ranks. Only by removing politicization can top-level officials be free to take the necessary steps to restore public safety and public confidence, and you can't remove politicization unless you remove all influence of the corrupt Barry-Cronies (tm) regime.
Free Chief Soulsby and free the city from the reign of terror! shift his accountability from the Mayor to the Control Board, who are appointed by Congress and thus have less chance of being influenced by local politics and cronyism.
Citing the MPD's dismal closure rate (the precentage of cases closed, be they by arrest, dismissal or conviction) for murder in the City of Washington, police chief Larry Soulsby dismissed Captain Alan Dreher from the position of commander of the District's Homicide Unit, Monday 15 September. Also, 17 supervisors of some 96 detectives have been reassigned away from their supervisory positions.
Thanksgiving Day 1997
Yikes! Larry Soulsby is gone! Retired! Please see this Washington Post coverage.