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Opionions from officers on DC Metro Police and surrounding Departments


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  • Opionions from officers on DC Metro Police and surrounding Departments

    I'm an out-of-towner from Cleveland, Ohio and considering applying for the Metro Police. I've done some research about the area and the department, but was wondering if I can get some opinions of officers who actually work for MPDC or surrounding departments.
    1 - I've heard that there is a high turn over rate and somewhat low morale among MPDC officers. Is this true and why?
    2 - The starting salary for MPDC is around $46,000+, but how good/bad is the cost of living in the metro area (housing, gas, groceries, etc.).
    3 - How good is the morale, salary, benefits, and advancement opportunites for officers on surrounding departments such as Arlington, Alexandria, Prince William County, Transit PD, etc.?

    Thank you all for your input.
    Last edited by wdr2; 05-02-2007, 08:57 PM.

  • #2
    Let me start by saying that there are good and bad things about every department, and you need to ask yourself what kind of career you'd like to have. I currently work for MPDC in Southeast Washington and love it...usually. The surrounding departments (i.e. Fairfax County PD, Arlington PD, Alexandria PD, etc.) are very well trained, very well funded, and also (at least as far as I'm concerned) very boring. I see more action in Southeast in one week than most officers in the surrounding communities see in 6 months. I'm not saying that the other departments aren't good, they are, but they cater to a different kind of citizen (which you can also find in NW DC's second district, the officers of which are affectionately known as 'Squirrel Chasers'). Now, let me directly answer your questions.
    1. Low morale and high turnover? Yes, there is a high turnover rate among MPDC in certain districts that have historically had management issues. However, we have a new Chief who has made some command changes which should help that issue. Also, many officers come to DC to get the experience and then bounce. Be advised though, recruits are now required to sign a contract for 3 years (or 4, I can't remember) in an effort to bolster the ranks. As far as morale goes, I think it's O.K. There are always people who look at a glass as half empty, and then there are those that look at it as half full.
    2. Cost of Living? Anywhere in Virginia close to the city sucks. My wife and I rent a three bedroom in Alexandria and it costs 2300 a month...but it's a nice area and the commute is short. In the city itself it's pretty expensive too, unless you are single and want to live in Southeast where, if you can deal with the sounds of gunfire, you can get a place pretty cheap. Some places will even give you a place for free just to have a cop living on the property. Maryland is the cheapest area to live in, but you increase your commute time because of the traffic and because you have to go a little ways into Maryland to find a nice section (DC is closing down a lot of the public housing projects, and the tenants are moving into Prince Georges County Maryland, which borders DC).
    3. Promotion Potential? In the MPDC, you can test for Sergeant after 5 years on the job. I think it's after 3 years as a Sergeant that you can test for Lieutenant. As for the other agencies I really don't know. I know that there are a lot of opportunities for hard working officers in MPDC though. They've got a traffic division, vice (we call it Focused Mission Unit), Rapid Units (jump out), Harbor Patrol, Helicopter Division, ERT, and of course a ton of different opportunities for Detectives.
    4. My Bitches. One word...PAPERING! Papering is what you do after you've made an arrest. We're one of the only departments in the country that still does it. OK, here's how it works: You lock someone up and do all the paperwork at the station, then the very next morning you have to go to court. First you have to check in with the Court Liason. Then you have to go to either the US Attorney's Office or the Office of the Attorney General and present your case to a screening attorney who decides right there if they're going to prosecute or not. Then you have to meet with a prosecuting attorney and review the case going over all the details. This process can take hours. It's all overtime, but it sucks. And forget about juveniles. For them you follow the same initial process but then have to wait around to have a probable cause hearing that same day. On more than one occassion I've locked up a juvenile, arrived at court at 0700hrs, met with the attorneys, then waited around until 1700hrs for the probable cause hearing. This after having worked until 2330 the previous night, and having roll call at 1500 the day of the trial. So the potential is very real that you will get little to no sleep if you're really a producer. The next bitch is about overtime being regulated by what's called FLSA. Essentially, you have to work 11 hours of overtime within a 28 day FLSA cycle before they start paying you overtime. Everything under 11 hours is still straight time. As you can see, it's very important to know when the cycle starts and ends, otherwise you can wind up working tons of overtime and not getting the proper compensation.

    Well, I hope this never ending rant has been helpful. Let me know if you have any other questions I can try to answer for you, and good luck in your search!


    • #3
      Why is papering still around? Sounds like a terrible waste of time and overtime money (of course, I guess it's a good way to make some). Is it something that may be among the changes coming under the new admin?


      • #4

        Well I can say that there is a morale problem with in certain Districts and also with in the different shifts, but this is just the normal. I agree and with most other officers will also say with the new Chief our problems are going to start to go away. She is doing a very good job and I think she is great. Other than that I came from Ohio as a police officer also in 2004 and I don't think I am going to leave until retirement (hopefully 20 years soon). I have heard rumors from the Union that something will be in writing and before council in June or July on that. Well as for papering they are starting to work on that issue and MPD has made a Papering Reform Committee, but as you know some things take time and sometimes an act of God to get done, but with the new administration I think that we are in for some good times. The cost of living is more than what your accustomed to. Rent is the worst as well as home prices. You can rent a one bedroom for 900 to 1500 a month. Police officers can also find discounts from some of the rental companies and all they ask is that you help them with disorderly people and drunks and that sort of thing, but you can get an apartment from $0 to $500 a month. It just depends and you have to be a little lucky to find them. Hope this helps.


        • #5
          You sound like where I come from is called, "robocop". The term is not bad, at least from my perspective and others who don't mind working in non squirrel town communities.

          I thought about coming to DC, but, the cost of living is the biggest deterant. I've heard about the crime, etc., and the problems within the dept. To me, an area with crime and a good amount of officers, is a place an officer would want to be, other wise, you're not "policing". But, as far as the court thing, OMG, WTF? Are there any speculations about future changes to tying up officers in court? It seems like you guys are doing the prosecuters work. What about people on day shift? Do they ever get to answer calls or proactively police or are they stuck in court all day? That is the BIGGEST deterant to me.

          The way you speak about your dept shows you are committed to an imperfect administration and that you enjoy being an officer.
          Too many would get burnt out on that and I suppose they have their reasons, however, working with those who've still got energy is a blast.

          You be safe
          Last edited by 2Lucky; 05-08-2007, 08:46 AM. Reason: typo


          • #6

            The court thing really does suck. However, it's possible to get other guys who are on a scene with you to paper your arrest. Unless you're trying to buy a new house and want all the court overtime you can get, most people try to spread the wealth. As far as daywork is concerned, if you lock people up on a regular basis you'll probably spend about every other day in court. Unless your lock-up is a bond or citation release, in which case you paper on later dates. Anyway, hope you find what you're looking for in your search for a new department. Good luck and stay safe.


            • #7
              Thank you all for your input.

              Yeah there is a high turnover rate but probably not any different in any other large city. Many people originally come to MPD for some experience. Thats why I originally came, i was planning on getting experience then apply with the FEDS as an agent. Now I see the difference between the work and I am not ready for a desk job. There is low moral but the ones with low morale are the officers who are lazy. The money situation you can make as much as you want, just lock people up and in DC its too easy with all the drugs and violence. Papering is up to the person, I personally see it as easy money or use it as comp time= vacation time. I had 3 weeks of vacation last year using comp time not using a hour of annual leave. If you work hard in liitle time you can be out of patrol and in plain clothes. The surrounding counties other thatn PG county you will be mostly a traffic cop writting tickets and going to disorderlys and domestics. Don't get me wrong you do those in patrol in MPD but also between them you will be on a homicide scene or chasing guys with guns. Real estate is high your best bet is to buy. I know it might be out of you finances but renting prices you pay closeto what you would pay in a mortgage. I learned after a year and half renting. Good Luck!!


              • #8

                Do you guys get regular vacation and annual leave? Or are you saying your comp time goes towards annual leave which you take as vacation?



                • #9
                  you get annual and sick leave every two weeks automatically. you may choose either $ or comp time everytime you work over your tour. comp time is used as leave. if unused for a period of time comp time rolls over into flsa comp time. Flsa comp can be used as leave. You can also hold your flsa and wait for the dept to pay it out. regular comp time cannot be paid out.


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