Case: DOJ Investigation of the Washington, D.C., Metropolitan Police Department

No Court Case | No Court

Filed Date: 1999

Clearinghouse coding complete

Case Summary

In January 1999, D.C. Mayor Anthony A. Williams and Police Chief Charles H. Ramsey requested that the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) review the incidents and handling of the use of force by officers of the Washington Metropolitan Police Department (MPD). That request followed the publication of a five-part Washington Post series in November 1998, focusing on MPD's use of force. In that series, the Post noted that "the District of Columbia's Metropolitan Police Department have shot and killed…

In January 1999, D.C. Mayor Anthony A. Williams and Police Chief Charles H. Ramsey requested that the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) review the incidents and handling of the use of force by officers of the Washington Metropolitan Police Department (MPD). That request followed the publication of a five-part Washington Post series in November 1998, focusing on MPD's use of force. In that series, the Post noted that "the District of Columbia's Metropolitan Police Department have shot and killed more people per resident in the 1990s than any other large American city police force."

The DOJ examined the MPD's use of force policies and analyzed all reported incidents involving the use of force, as well as all complaints of excessive force and brutality for the period of 1994 to early 1999.

Through analysis of a random sample, the DOJ determined that in approximately 15% of the use of force incidents, the force used by MPD officers was excessive, compared to an expected occurrence rate of 1 to 2%. Other DOJ findings included disproportionate incidents of force used by off-duty officers (14% of incidents); subjects being charged with "assault on a police officer" when force was deployed (1/3 of incidents); incidents of a gun not found on the subject, despite officers reporting that subject appeared to be reaching for a weapon (22% of incidents); and excessive incidents of police dog bites (bites occurring in 70% of canine deployments, compared to an expected bite rate of 10%). The DOJ determined that MPD lacked a comprehensive program to minimize the use of excessive force, had an inadequate system for investigating citizen complaints of officer misconduct, and had significant deficiencies in its training program.

On June 13, 2001, the MDP and DOJ entered into a memorandum of agreement (MOA), pursuant to the DOJ's authority granted by 42 U.S.C. §14141, to implement changes in the MPD regarding the use of force and related issues, including investigation of citizen complaints of officer misconduct. On April 9, 2002, the DOJ and MPD selected Michael R. Bromwich and his team to act as the independent monitor to oversee MPD's compliance and implementation of the MOA.

The independent monitor issued twenty-four quarterly reports, assessing the progress made by the MPD in complying with the MOA. On April 1, 2008, the independent monitor recommended that the MOA be terminated early in light of their assessment that the City and MPD achieved substantial compliance with more than 80% of the MOA's 126 substantive provisions. On April 7, 2008, DOJ approved their recommendation, and both the MOA and the independent monitoring of the City and MPD ended.

Summary Authors

Dan Dalton (12/28/2006)

Jessica Kincaid (4/9/2015)

People


Attorneys(s) for Plaintiff

Brown Cutlar, Shanetta Y. (District of Columbia)

Gerhart, Sarah H. (District of Columbia)

Graybill, Lisa Shawn (District of Columbia)

Gregg, Tammie (District of Columbia)

Low, Daniel L. (District of Columbia)

Rosenbaum, Steven H. (District of Columbia)

Schneider, Todd J. (District of Columbia)

Yeomans, William R. (District of Columbia)

Attorneys(s) for Defendant

Nickles, Peter J. (District of Columbia)

Rigsby, Robert (District of Columbia)

Attorneys(s) for Plaintiff

Brown Cutlar, Shanetta Y. (District of Columbia)

Gerhart, Sarah H. (District of Columbia)

Graybill, Lisa Shawn (District of Columbia)

Gregg, Tammie (District of Columbia)

Low, Daniel L. (District of Columbia)

Rosenbaum, Steven H. (District of Columbia)

Schneider, Todd J. (District of Columbia)

Yeomans, William R. (District of Columbia)

Attorneys(s) for Defendant

Nickles, Peter J. (District of Columbia)

Rigsby, Robert (District of Columbia)

Ryan, Terrence D. (District of Columbia)

Wainstein, Kenneth L. (District of Columbia)

Expert/Monitor/Master

Bromwich, Michael R. (District of Columbia)

Documents in the Clearinghouse

Document

Summary of Memorandum of Agreement between the United States Department of Justice and the District of Columbia and the District of Columbia Metropolitan Police Department (MPD)

District of Columbia Metropolitan Police Department

June 12, 2001

June 12, 2001

Settlement Agreement

Memorandum of Agreement

Department of Justice Investigation of Use of Force by the Washington Metropolitan Police Department

June 13, 2001

June 13, 2001

Settlement Agreement

Attorney General News Conference with DC Mayor Anthony Williams and DC Police Chief Charles Ramsey

June 13, 2001

June 13, 2001

Press Release

Special Report of the Independent Monitor for the Metropolitan Police Department

June 12, 2002

June 12, 2002

Monitor/Expert/Receiver Report

First Quarterly Report of the Independent Monitor for the Metropolitan Police Department

Aug. 1, 2002

Aug. 1, 2002

Monitor/Expert/Receiver Report

Joint Modification No. 1 to June 13, 2001 Memorandum of Agreement

Sept. 30, 2002

Sept. 30, 2002

Settlement Agreement

Second Quarterly Report of the Independent Monitor for the Metropolitan Police Department

Oct. 29, 2002

Oct. 29, 2002

Monitor/Expert/Receiver Report

Third Quarterly Report of the Independent Monitor for the Metropolitan Police Department

Jan. 30, 2003

Jan. 30, 2003

Monitor/Expert/Receiver Report

Summary Compliance Report of the Independent Monitor for the Metropolitan Police Department

Feb. 24, 2003

Feb. 24, 2003

Monitor/Expert/Receiver Report

Fourth Quarterly Report of the Independent Monitor for the Metropolitan Police Department

April 29, 2003

April 29, 2003

Monitor/Expert/Receiver Report

Resources

Title Description External URL Date / External URL

Reforming Police Use-of-Force Practices: A Case Study of the Cincinnati Police Department

Elliot Harvey Schatmeier

When Congress enacted the Violent Crime Control & Law Enforcement Act of 1994, it gave the Department of Justice (DOJ) a powerful tool for correcting unconstitutional practices in state and local pol… Sept. 1, 2012

Sept. 1, 2012

http://www.columbia.edu/...

Implementing §14141 “Pattern or Practice” Reform: Evidence from Four Police Departments

Joshua M. Chanin

This paper takes as its subject a relatively new, but promising initiative to control police behavior through department-wide reform: a provision in the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act … Oct. 1, 2009

Oct. 1, 2009

http://www.pmranet.org/...

Review of the Use of Monitors in Civil Settlement Agreements and Consent Decrees Involving State and Local Government Entities

Attorney General Merrick Garland and Assoc. AG Vanita Gupta

Today, the Justice Department will begin implementing a set of principles and specific recommendations regarding the use ofmonitors in civil settlement agreements and consent decrees involving state … Sept. 13, 2021

Sept. 13, 2021

https://www.justice.gov/...

Policing the Police: The Impact of "Pattern-or-Practice" Investigations on Crime

Tanaya Devi, Roland G. Fryer Jr

This paper provides the first empirical examination of the impact of federal and state "Pattern-or Practice" investigations on crime and policing. For investigations that were not preceded by "viral"… June 1, 2020

June 1, 2020

None

Docket

Last updated May 12, 2022, 8 p.m.

Docket sheet not available via the Clearinghouse.

Case Details

State / Territory: District of Columbia

Case Type(s):

Policing

Key Dates

Filing Date: 1999

Case Ongoing: No

Plaintiffs

Plaintiff Description:

United States Department of Justice

Plaintiff Type(s):

U.S. Dept of Justice plaintiff

Attorney Organizations:

U.S. Dept. of Justice Civil Rights Division

Public Interest Lawyer: Yes

Filed Pro Se: No

Class Action Sought: No

Class Action Outcome: Not sought

Defendants

Washington Metropolitan Police Dept., Regional

Case Details

Causes of Action:

34 U.S.C. § 12601 (previously 42 U.S.C. § 14141)

Special Case Type(s):

Out-of-court

Availably Documents:

None of the above

Outcome

Prevailing Party: Plaintiff

Nature of Relief:

Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement

Source of Relief:

Settlement

Form of Settlement:

Private Settlement Agreement

Order Duration: 2001 - 2008

Issues

General:

Excessive force

Failure to discipline

Failure to supervise

Failure to train

False arrest

Improper use of canines

Inadequate citizen complaint investigations and procedures

Pepper/OC spray

Racial profiling