(Washington, DC) The Office of Police Complaints (OPC) and its governing body, the Police Complaint Board (PCB), today issued their Fiscal Year 2006 Annual Report. The report details the agency’s work from October 1, 2005, through September 30, 2006, and includes statistics about the complaints received by the agency, as well as information regarding the agency’s accomplishments.
Over the course of the year, OPC received 414 complaints, which was a 27% increase over the year before. The increase in the number of complaints this year followed a 24% increase from fiscal year 2004 to fiscal year 2005. In total, since the agency opened in January 2001, it has received approximately 2,000 complaints.
In fiscal year 2006, OPC closed 435 complaints, which was an 18% increase, making fiscal year 2006 the third year in a row that the agency closed more complaints than it received. As a result of this work, OPC’s number of open complaints at the end of the year decreased by 8%.
Nineteen of these complaints were adjudicated and 13 of the complaints had allegations that were sustained. All of these sustained decisions were forwarded to MPD, and MPD has taken steps to impose discipline for each one.
As part of the investigations of these complaints, OPC’s investigators conducted over 750 interviews, which included more than 400 police officer and 350 citizen interviews, and the agency completed 251 investigative reports.
OPC conducted 34 mediation sessions this year, 21 of which were successful. Through a concerted effort to identify appropriate complaints for mediation, OPC increased the number of mediation sessions by 79% over fiscal year 2005. Since opening, OPC has mediated 130 complaints, with an overall success rate of 72%.
PCB issued three detailed proposals for police reform to the Mayor, the Council, and MPD’s Chief of Police, bringing its total number of policy recommendations to ten. This year’s policy recommendations addressed enhancing police response to people with mental illness in the District of Columbia by incorporating the Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) community policing model, police service to disabled persons who use service animals, and business cards for MPD officers.
Despite the success of fiscal year 2006, the agency has many challenges that lie ahead. In particular, the report notes that OPC will be pursuing the issue of ensuring that all MPD employees cooperate fully with OPC’s investigation, adjudication, or mediation of complaints, which is required by District law.
While the Department and most MPD employees have cooperated with the agency, OPC reported more than 51 instances of non-cooperation to MPD in 2006, and the Department did not take disciplinary action in 92% of the cases that had been reviewed by MPD. These failures to cooperate arose in serious matters reported to OPC alleging unnecessary or excessive use of force, harassment, discrimination, and other possible police misconduct.
The number of instances of non-cooperation has risen dramatically over the past few years, and MPD’s failure to take disciplinary action has had significant negative consequences for the District’s police accountability system. The agency has recently written to MPD about this issue, and is awaiting a written response.
“We are glad to report that the agency had a very good year,” said Philip K. Eure, OPC’s executive director. “We have important work to be done in the year ahead, but our success in completing investigations and reducing our number of open complaints will allow us to handle new complaints, develop proposals for police reform, and do our part to improve policing and ensure greater confidence by the public in the District’s police force.”
To see a copy of the report, select the link below: