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Police Complaints Board Seeks Improvements in Policies Regarding Claims of Property Damage Caused by Police Action

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

(Washington, DC) The Police Complaints Board (PCB) today submitted a report and recommendations to Mayor Anthony A. Williams, the Council of the District of Columbia, and Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) Chief Charles H. Ramsey regarding MPD's policies dealing with claims of property damage caused by MPD officers in the course of their work.

The Office of Police Complaints (OPC), which is governed by PCB, has received several complaints from members of the public whose homes, cars, and other property have been damaged by MPD officers while carrying out their police duties. The complaints indicate that MPD has not repaired damage caused by misinformation, misinterpretation, or erroneous judgment, which is the Department's policy, or provided clear and accurate information about how to file a claim for compensation with the District of Columbia.

PCB also found that MPD does not have a formal policy for addressing property damage caused by police action other than forcible entry through a door or into a building.

Based on its findings, PCB recommends that the Mayor, the Council, and MPD revise or create procedures to address these issues, improve information available to the public about filing a claim for property damage, and train MPD employees about the Department's policies.

PCB believes that adopting the recommended changes would have multiple benefits. Members of the public would have easier access to information that permits them to seek damage repair or compensation more quickly, and this in turn would likely reduce the number of police misconduct complaints as well as the number of civil actions against the District.

"The city should let citizens know clearly how to get their damaged property repaired or how to get compensated for it quickly when the police are liable," said Philip K. Eure, OPC's executive director. "If implemented, we think that our recommendations will further the public's trust in MPD, thereby enhancing police-community relations."

PCB issued its report and recommendations pursuant to its statutory obligation to, where appropriate, make recommendations to the Mayor, the Council, and the Chief of Police, concerning those elements of management of the MPD affecting the incidence of police misconduct, such as the recruitment, training, evaluation, discipline, and supervision of police officers.

PCB is OPC's governing body, and, together, they form the District of Columbia's independent police accountability agency. The agency's primary mission is to investigate and resolve police misconduct complaints filed by the public against MPD and DC Housing Authority Police Department (DCHAPD) officers.

PCB's report and recommendations are available online:

For additional information or questions regarding the report and recommendations, please contact OPC's public affairs specialist, Melanie Deggins, at (202) 727-3838.