Department of Justice Seal




(202) 616-2777


TDD (202) 514-1888



WASHINGTON, D.C. The Washington Metropolitan Police Department (MPD), under an agreement reached today between the Justice Department and the District of Columbia, will implement new policies and procedures in its use of force training, management, supervision, and discipline of officers to ensure that MPD minimizes and deters the use of excessive force.

Today's agreement resolves an investigation by the Justice Department into allegations that MPD officers engaged in a pattern or practice of use of excessive force. The Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) is an out-of-court settlement agreed to by both parties.

"We are pleased that our negotiations with the District of Columbia and MPD have resulted in an agreement which provides for immediate, as well as long-term, reforms in MPD's use of force policies and procedures," said Attorney General John Ashcroft. "This agreement provides the foundation for meaningful reforms in the manner in which MPD manages use of force by its officers- reforms that all the parties agreed were necessary."

The Justice Department investigation was initiated in January 1999, following a request from Mayor Anthony Williams and Chief of Police Charles Ramsey that the Justice Department review MPD's use of force to determine whether MPD officers engaged in a pattern or practice of use of excessive force. The Department is pleased to cooperate with the police and the community to reach shared solutions on these issues.

Results of the review released today by the Justice Department indicate that cases involving use of excessive force by MPD officers have been higher than typical in a police department. While this investigation was ongoing, the MPD embraced several initiatives designed to improve police performance regarding the use of force. These extraordinary efforts have already resulted in significant improvements.

In the past two years, for example, MPD has achieved a significant reduction in the rate at which it uses deadly force and the rate at which its canines bite subjects. In the early 1990s, MPD officers were involved in as many as 16 fatal shootings each year. In 1999 four fatalities were reported and two in 2000. Additionally, changes in MPD's canine operations, over the same period, have led to a 70 percent reduction in canine bites. These reforms have been implemented without impairing the MPD's ability to fight crime or placing its officers' safety at risk.

"This is an extremely positive development that will pay tremendous dividends for the District of Columbia. We applaud the Metropolitan Police Department's desire to improve its ability to address excessive force allegations swiftly, professionally and with certainty," said District of Columbia United States Attorney Kenneth L. Weinstein.

As a result of the agreement, the City and MPD will:

  • implement a variety of citizen-friendly changes in the procedures used for receiving, investigating, and resolving misconduct allegations and develop a plan to coordinate activities with the new Office of Citizen Complaint Review.

  • train officers on the new use of force policies, emphasizing de-escalation techniques of potentially violent situations;

  • analyze trends in uses of force, searches, seizures, and other law enforcement activities that create a risk of officer misconduct;

  • expand a new unit that is specially trained and responsible for investigating serious uses of force;

  • change the procedures for investigating alleged misconduct and uses of force by MPD officers;

"We are confident," Attorney General Ashcroft stated at a press conference held with D.C. Mayor Williams and Metropolitan D.C. Police Chief Ramsey, "that when the balance of the reforms contained in this agreement are implemented, the DC Metropolitan Police Department will be a model for the nation on how to uphold the rule of law while using force only when and to the extent necessary. And, we hope that the cooperative approach adopted by MPD and the Department of Justice likewise will serve as a model for how Justice can help police agencies fix a problem, rather than merely fix the blame."

"Mayor Williams and Chief Ramsey deserve our praise for their courage in asking for the investigation and for their commitment to improving the DC Metropolitan Police Department's practices."

"And the officers of the MPD deserve our thanks for their cooperation. Without their earnest cooperation, this show of progress would not be possible. I look forward to working with them and with the Metropolitan Police Department as partners in a problem solving effort, to make sure that they enjoy the trust and respect of everyone in the District of Columbia."

There remains work to be done. This settlement does not include allegations of racially discriminatory communications by MPD officers on Mobile Data Terminals. The Metropolitan Police Department has pledged their continued cooperation, to help the Department complete its review of these efforts as soon as practicable.

Under the 1994 Crime Bill, the Justice Department has the authority to file civil suits against law enforcement agencies that engage in a pattern of misconduct. In addition to the cases already mentioned, the Department is currently investigating a number of other law enforcement agencies across the country.