Thirteen Washington, D.C., police officers have been arrested so far this year on charges including sexual assault, drunken driving and possession of PCP, the Washington Post reports. Last year, 28 Washington officers were charged with crimes. Twenty-two D.C. officers were arrested in 2002. The Post says that totals are far out of proportion to those of police departments in other big cities.
Two arrests this year involve offenses that allegedly took place on duty. One officer was accused of using excessive force against a motorist during a traffic stop in 2000; another was charged with having sex with a woman who called to report a domestic violence complaint.
Most of the trouble is taking place when officers are out of uniform and off duty. City Council member Kathy Patterson said she fears there might be more misconduct, contending that the police department has an uneven track record in investigating errant officers.
Police Chief Charles H. Ramsey said he believes that part of the problem stems from officers who joined the department before he began as chief in 1998. Of the 13 arrested this year, 10 were hired before Ramsey took over. Six joined the force in 1989 and 1990, when a massive hiring push led the department to cut corners on recruiting, background checks, psychological testing, and training. “We did bring on board some folks that can’t live up to the standard,” Ramsey said. “We pay for the sins of the past.”