Metropolitan Police Department of the District of Columbia

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Metropolitan Police Department of the District of Columbia
Common name Metropolitan Police Department
Abbreviation MPD or MPDC
Patch of the Metropolitan Police Department of D.C.
Seal of the Metropolitan Police Department of the District of Columbia.png
Seal of the Metropolitan Police Department of D.C.
Badge of the Metropolitan Police Department of the District of Columbia.png
Badge of the Metropolitan Police Department (badge number removed)
Flag of the Metropolitan Police Department of the District of Columbia.png
Flag of the Metropolitan Police Department of D.C.
Motto Justitia Omnibus
(English: "Justice For All")
Agency overview
Formed August 6, 1861; 162 years ago (1861-08-06)
Preceding agency Washington City police (daytime) Auxiliary Guard (nighttime)
Annual budget $514 Million
Legal personality Governmental: Government agency
Jurisdictional structure
Washington, D.C. locator map.svg
Map of Metropolitan Police Department of the District of Columbia's jurisdiction.
Legal jurisdiction Washington, D.C.
General nature
Operational structure
Headquarters Henry J. Daly Building
300 Indiana Avenue NW
Police Officerss 3,797
Unsworn Memberss 435
Chief Of Police responsible Peter Newsham[1]
Agency executives
  • Lamar Green, Assistant Chief - Patrol Services North
  • Robert Contee, Assistant Chief - Patrol Services South
  • Vacant, Assistant Chief - Professional Development Bureau
  • Kimberley Chisley-Missouri, Assistant Chief - Internal Affairs Bureau[2]
  • Robert Alder, Assistant Chief - Investigative Services Bureau[2]
  • Michael Anzallo, Assistant Chief - Corporate Support Bureau[2]
  • Special Operations
  • Robbery-Homicide
  • Emergency Response Team
  • Air Support
  • Juvenile
  • Criminal Interdiction
  • Narcotics
  • Forensics
  • Traffic Enforcement
  • Patrol Services
  • Homeland Security
  • Corporate Support
  • Professional Development
  • Investigative Services
  • Internal Affairs
Police Boats 2
Helicopters 2
Horses 4
Dogs 1 Bloodhound
31 German Shepherds

The Metropolitan Police Department (MPD), officially the Metropolitan Police Department of the District of Columbia, is the law enforcement agency for the city of Washington, D.C., the capital of the United States. With approximately 3,900 officers and 400 civilian staff, it is the sixth-largest municipal police department in the United States. The department serves an area of 68 square miles (180 km2) and a population of 672,228 people.


An MPD cruiser at Pennsylvania Avenue near the U.S. Capitol in April 2009.

The Metropolitan Police Department is the primary law enforcement agency for Washington, D.C. It is responsible for providing police services to the District such as patrol and criminal investigations, and is also charged with protecting the President and Congress. As the capital of the United States, Washington is a Federal district and subject to the ultimate authority of the U.S. Congress, including the Metropolitan Police. The MPD has a unique role in that it serves as a local police department, with county, state and Federal responsibilities, and is under a municipal government but operates under Federal authority. They are responsible for operating the District's sex offender registry, approving all applications for motorcades, protests, demonstrations and other public events, and maintain the District's firearm registry.[3] The MPD's mission states:

It is the mission of the Metropolitan Police Department to safeguard the District of Columbia and protect its residents and visitors by providing the highest quality of police service with integrity, compassion, and a commitment to innovation that integrates people, technology and progressive business systems.[4]

The Metropolitan Police is the only law enforcement agency allowed under law to shut down roads within the District and is also responsible for the protection of the President of the United States. As such, the MPD always leads the presidential motorcade when traveling in the District and, under certain circumstances, also leads outside the District in conjunction with local agencies. They work closely with the U.S. Secret Service in planning presidential routes and providing protection for the President, the First Family, the Vice President of the United States, visiting dignitaries and VIPs as well as protecting foreign embassies.[5]

Under the District of Columbia Home Rule Act, whenever the President of the United States determines that special conditions of an emergency nature exist which require the use of the Metropolitan Police force for Federal purposes, he may direct the Mayor to provide him, and the Mayor shall provide, such services of the Metropolitan Police force for up to 48 hours. During longer periods of time, the President must provide to Congress in writing his reasons for continuing control of the MPD. This control can be extended at any time beyond 30 days if either the emergency continues or if Congress passes a law ordering it.[6]

The MPD is assisted by various federal law enforcement agencies, primarily the U.S. Park Police, the U.S. Secret Service Uniformed Division, and the U.S. Capitol Police. Under District law, the MPD has a mutual aid agreement with over 32 law enforcement agencies operating within the District. They are also assisted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation for evidence collection and task force investigations and they work closely with the U.S. Marshals Service which performs the functions of a county sheriff for the District. The MPD also works with the Metro Transit Police Department which has jurisdiction in the District, Maryland, and Virginia to protect the Washington Metro Transit Authority. The MPD is sometimes incorrectly referred to as the "Metro" Police Department though this is actually the transit police.[7]


19th century

As the American Civil War raged on, U.S. President Abraham Lincoln took a personal interest in the formation of the a regular police force for the American capital. Washington had quickly filled with soldiers, government employees, and citizens hoping to cash in on the war. The crowds, crime, and the constant threat of enemy spies, had made the capital into a rowdy city barely under control. Formed by an act of the U.S. Congress and signed into law by President Lincoln on August 6, 1861 the Metropolitan Police replaced the previous two forces, largely viewed as inept: the Washington City police, which was formed by the city council, and the Auxiliary Guard, which was formed by the U.S. Congress, as well as the constables assigned by the U.S. state of Maryland to patrol Washington County. After the formation of the Metropolitan Police Board, which was to govern the new police department, Lincoln sent a member of the board to study the New York City Police Department and its structure, itself modeled on the London Metropolitan Police Service.[7]

One of the earliest MPD badges. Today's badge has changed little from the original.

The Metropolitan Police Board unanimously chose one of its members, William Benning Webb who was commissioned as a Major in the army, to serve as the first Chief of Police, the formal title being "Major and Superintendent".[8] The Police Board initially divided the District into 10 precincts. The First Precinct constituted the portion of Washington County east of the Anacostia River, while the Second Precinct included the county territory north of Washington City and between the Anacostia and Rock Creek. The Third Precinct comprised the remainder of Washington County west of Rock Creek, including Georgetown and the island of Analostan in the Potomac River. The Fourth through Tenth precincts corresponded respectively with the First through Seventh wards of Washington City.[9] Beginning immediately, Superintendent Webb worked to organize the department which had an authorized strength of ten sergeants and as many patrolmen as needed, though not to exceed 150. The majority of the new department was hired by September with the Superintendent of Police salaried annually at $1,500, sergeants received $600, and patrolmen were paid $480. The officers worked 12-hour shifts, seven days a week with no holidays or vacation time. At first officers were issued no uniform or badges and had to purchase their own firearms. The U.S. Capitol building was chosen as the back drop of the MPD badge a month later and today's badge has changed little from the original. The first arrest by an MPD officer was for public intoxication.[7]

At the urging of U.S. Marshal for the District of Columbia Ward Lamon and United States Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton, President Lincoln agreed in November 1864 agreed to have bodyguards, though he felt that the President of the United States should not have found it necessary to have guards at all. Superintendent Webb had four MPD officers assigned the task of guarding the White House grounds and accompanying the president on his walks through the city. However Lincoln did not want this fact made public and the officer's orders were not made official and they wore plainclothes with their revolvers concealed. One of the officers, William H. Crook, the most well known of Lincoln's original guards, would go on to serve under five other administrations and wrote down his recollections in a book Through Five Administrations. He became close to Lincoln and accompanied him to Richmond, Virginia at Lincoln's request after the city was captured. Two officers would begin their shift at 8 a.m. till 4 p.m. They were then relieved by an officer who stay till midnight and was then himself relieved at 8 the next morning.[10]

In December 1864, A. C. Richards became Major and Superintendent, a post he would hold through the next 14 years.[11] Richards was present at Ford's Theater the night the President Lincoln was assassinated by John Wilkes Booth. In one of the lowest points of the MPD's history, the police officer who was to guard Lincoln that night, John Frederick Parker, had left his post at the door to Lincoln's box, presumably to get a drink at the bar across the street. Officer Crook, who had been on duty that day and had been relieved by Parker who was several hours late for his shift, would place blame in his book on Parker for Lincoln's death.[10]

After Booth had fled the theater, Major Richards, began organizing the activities for investigation until it was taken over by Secretary Stanton. In the hours immediately after the assassination, MPD officers enforced closures of all places of entertainment and helped seal off the city. They patrolled the streets on horses alongside members of the Military Provost. That night on April 14, 1865, an MPD detective entered into the daily blotter: At this hour the melancholy intelligence of the assassination of Mr. Lincoln President of the U.S. at Fords Theatre was brought to this office and the information obtained...goes to show that the assassin is a man named J. Wilks Boothe. It remains the most famous entry in the MPD's records. A tip provided to MPD detectives indicated that the Surratt boarding house at 614 H Street was linked to the assassination. The tip would lead to the eventual trial and execution of Booth's conspirators.[9]

In 1871, the first MPD officer was killed in the line of duty. On Friday, December 29, 1871, Officer Francis M. Doyle and several other officers attempted to gain entry to the house of a thief to recover stolen property. When they forced the door, the wife of the suspected thief fired at them, striking Doyle in the chest and killing him instantly. Although the wife was arrested and tried for the murder, she was acquitted. Officer Doyle was a veteran of the Civil War, having served in the US Navy, and had been with the MPD for five years. He was 38 years old at the time of his death and was survived by his wife and three children. He was buried in Congressional Cemetery.[12][13]

The MPD also has the unique historical fact of having arrested a sitting U.S. President. During his presidency, Ulysses S. Grant was known to speed in his horse and buggy on Washington's streets. The MPD had issued him three different citations for this offense. On the fourth occasion, President Grant was arrested on M Street for racing and his horse and buggy were confiscated. When brought to the station however, the officers became unsure if a sitting president could be formally charged if he had not been impeached. Grant was allowed to pay a fine but had to walk back to the White House.[14] In 1878, Congress abolished the Metropolitan Police Board and its duties were taken over by the newly formed DC Board of Commissioners, established by Congress to govern the entire District. That year as well, Thomas P. Morgan was named to replace Richards, who had resigned, as Major and Superintendent.[15] Although a police fund had been established during the MPD's first year to assist those officers injured in the line of duty,[16] Morgan would add to this by establishing a retirement fund for older officers who could no longer perform their duties.[15]

On July 2, 1881, the MPD took part in investigating the assassination of President James A. Garfield. The assassin, Charles J. Guiteau, approached Garfield at the Baltimore and Potomac Railroad Station and fired his weapon twice, hitting Garfield. Though Garfield had no bodyguards, MPD Officer Patrick Kearney had been nearby and arrested Guiteau before he could leave the station. Kearney took Guiteau a few blocks away to the station to be booked where the small pistol that Guiteau had used was discovered inside his jacket pocket. The officials at the station at first refused to believe Kearney's claims that Guiteau had shot the president.[16] The detective blotter would note the shooting, investigation, and arrest as well as Garfield's death several weeks later.[9]

20th century

In the summer of 1918, Major and Superintendent Raymond W. Pulliam established the Women's Bureau, originally directed by Marion O. Spingarn. The Women's Bureau was created to deal with issues involving juveniles, specifically girls, such as delinquency, investigating casework on juveniles, preventive welfare work to curb criminality in juveniles, and the supervision of movie theatres, dance halls, and similar places. Most of the officers in the Bureau in 1920 were trained as school teachers, nurses, or social workers, and included one lawyer. On October 7, 1918, Mina Van Winkle was appointed a police officer in the Women's Bureau. She was known to be extremely outspoken and was an ardent supporter of protection for girls and other women during the law enforcement and judicial process. In January 1919 Van Winkle became director of the Women's Bureau, a post she held till her death in 1932.[17]

Also in 1919, the MPD established a "School of Instruction" on the third floor of the 7th Precinct. This was the early forerunner to the Training Bureau and today's Metropolitan Police Academy. A group of 22 officers took a 30-day course in the fundamental duties of police officers, the law of arrest, and court procedures. By 1930, an official training school was established. The school expanded the original course work to a three-month period, and brought in outside experts from various fields to instruct.[7]

MPD officers confront the Bonus Army
MPD patch from the 1940s.

During Prohibition, the MPD remained active dealing with the organized crime that resulted in DC. During that thirteen-year period, almost 25 officers were killed in the line of duty, mostly due to gunfire and accidents while pursuing rum-runners.[18]

During the Great Depression, over 17,000 veterans of the First World War marched on Washington to demand payment for their service. Known as the Bonus Army, they set up camp in a Hooverville in Anacostia Park. The marchers remained at their campsite waiting for President Herbert Hoover to take action after Congress rejected a bill to pay the veterans. On July 28, 1932, Attorney General William D. Mitchell ordered the Metropolitan Police to remove the Bonus Army veterans from their camp. When the veterans moved back into it, they rushed two officers trapped on the second floor of a structure. The cornered officers drew their revolvers and shot two veterans, William Hushka and Eric Carlson, who died later.[19] In the aftermath of the shooting, President Hoover ordered the military, under General Douglas MacArthur, to disperse the Bonus Army. Fifty-five veterans were injured and 135 arrested.[20]

In December 1951, Robert V. Murray became Major and Superintendent. He took the command of a demoralized department marred by embarrassments, corruption, and waning public support. During his 13 years as chief, Murray would be credited with making the most sweeping, and longest lasting changes in the MPD's history and is seen as bringing the department into the modern era of policing. One of his first acts was that he would make rounds of the various precincts, inspecting them and the officers where he promised his support. He developed a code of ethics for officers and created a new branch to investigate police corruption, named the Internal Investigations Division—this was a precursor to the Internal Affairs Division. Murray also made good on his promise to improve conditions for his department. By 1952 Murray had petitioned Congress to give his officers a ten percent raise, had turned the six-day work week into a five-day work week, and worked to have two officers per patrol car. He went on to improve the MPD's vehicle fleet, initiated the use of canines, radar, helicopters and experimented with hand held radios.[21]

In 1953 Congress passed the District Government Reorganization Act. It formally abolished the rank and title of Major and Superintendent and replaced it with the position of Chief of Police. Murray would be the last Major and Superintendent and the first Chief of Police of the MPD. Murray's reforms and efforts improved the image of the department which expanded to 3,000 officers. He and the MPD earned public accolades for their handling of the Transit strikes in the hot summers of 1955 and 1956, the March on Washington, and the funeral of President John F. Kennedy. One of his final major acts would be to fully integrate assignments. Specific assignments and beats would no longer be given by only white officers or only black officers. Although it did not eliminate racist tensions and discrimination, it moved the department forward towards racial equality.[21]

Aftermath from the 1968 riots

The 1968 Washington, D.C. riots in the aftermath of the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. were the most devastating to the city. Rioters of over 20,000 quickly overwhelmed the 3,100 member police department. During the four days of violence, the inner part of Washington was devastated in widespread looting and fires, at one point coming within two blocks of the White House. The rioting ended when the National Guard was called out to assist the overwhelmed MPD. 12 people were killed, 1,098 were injured, and over 6,100 were arrested. The resulting economical fallout and crime spike would take many areas decades to recover from. The mobilization of 13,600 federal troops to assist the MPD in putting down the riot was the largest military occupation of an American city since the Civil War.[22]

On September 20, 1974, Officer Gail A. Cobb was shot and killed, becoming the first female U.S. police officer to be shot and killed while patrolling in the line of duty. While on foot patrol, Cobb was tipped off that a suspected bank robber had just fled into a nearby garage. She located the man and instructed him to place his hands on the wall. As she radioed for assistance, the suspect spun around and fired a single shot at point-blank range. The bullet went through her wrist and her police radio and then struck in the chest, killing her.[23]

Officers of the MPD were also present at the assassination attempt of President Ronald Reagan during which one officer, Thomas Delahanty, was shot.[24] In the late 1980s and early 1990s Washington was hit by the crack epidemic and the homicide rates soared. The District soon became known as the "murder capital" of the nation.[25]

During the 1991 Washington, D.C. riot, the MPD contended with three days of violence by rioters, mostly in the Mt. Pleasant neighborhood, who were upset in the aftermath of a controversial police shooting which exacerbated strained relationships between the city's Hispanic population and the MPD.[26] The riot was dispersed after a curfew was initiated and over 1,000 riot police descended on the area to enforce the peace.[27]

In 2000, MPD detective Johnny St. Valentine Brown, assigned to the narcotics division, was convicted of perjury after lying about having a degree from Howard University's School of Pharmacy.[28] In the wake of his conviction, many drug offenders with cases involving Brown were retried.[29] In 2001, Brown was charged with contempt after sending the sentencing judge forged letters of support in a bid to gain leniency in his sentencing.[citation needed]

21st century

The MPD also responded to the September 11 attacks of 2001. Charles H. Ramsey, who was the Chief of Police at the time, later stated in an interview:

We had just finished up a meeting when my chief of staff came in and told me I needed to go into his office and take a look at what was going on in New York. He had the Today Show on and he was looking at images of the first tower burning, the second tower had not yet been hit. I asked what happened and he said nobody seems to know. A small plane is the way it was described must have flown into the building. Everybody was still kind of not sure if it was an accident, on purpose or whatever and as we were standing there looking we actually saw the second plane strike the second tower, so we immediately knew that that was certainly no accident.[30]

The MPD activated its newly built Joint Operations Command Center (JOCC). Although it had not officially opened yet, September 11, 2001, became its first day of operations. While some equipment had been installed, other devices, such as phones, had not and had to be installed on the fly as emergency personnel arrived to respond. Officials from various agencies and departments including the United States Park Police, United States Capitol Police, the FBI, Secret Service, and the FAA's military district arrived to respond. Around that time, they were notified that The Pentagon had been hit as well. Though the Pentagon was located across the river in Arlington County, Virginia, MPD officers still responded to assist with the emergency response. Additionally, MPD officers working in conjunction with U.S. Park Police officers locked down all Federal buildings along the National Mall, including establishing a perimeter around the White House.[30]

Bo, the Obama family dog, sits in an MPD police cruiser in 2009.

The U.S. Park Police had sent its two helicopters to assist with operations at the Pentagon. Shortly thereafter, the flight control tower at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport was evacuated. Flight control of all airspace over the Washington metro area was turned over to the U.S. Park Police helicopters who coordinated with NORAD. However, needing to assist with evacuating victims, the Park Police requested assistance from MPD. Shortly thereafter, an MPD helicopter arrived and took over command and control of Washington's air space.[31]

That evening, after the majority of the population had returned home and Washington's streets lay empty, Chief Ramsey, his Executive Assistant Chief Terry Gainer, FBI Director Robert Mueller, and Secret Service Director Brian L. Stafford drove around D.C. to check security measures of the locked-down city. While several officers also wanted to assist with efforts in New York, many had to remain in D.C. and the majority of the department worked 12-hour shifts several weeks after the attacks. Ramsey noted that at the time many, himself included, thought that there were more attacks to come.[30]

On January 2, 2007, Cathy L. Lanier took the post of Chief of Police. Lanier, who began her career as a Metropolitan Police patrol officer, became the first female chief of the department. She has been singled out in publications for her community-oriented and technology-driven approach to policing that has helped modernize the MPD and lower crime rates. In 2012 the city attained a lowered homicide rate not seen since 1961.[32]

On September 16, 2013, MPD officers responded to the Washington Navy Yard for an active shooter in Building 197. Two officers were shot during the over-hour-long search and gunfight. The first, Officer Scott Williams, was hit in both legs during an exchange of gunfire with the shooter, Aaron Alexis. The second, Officer Dorian DeSantis, was a member of MPD's Emergency Response Team. Officer DeSantis was with U.S. Park Police officers Andrew Wong and Carl Hiott and had entered an area of cubicles when Alexis engaged them, striking DeSantis in his tactical vest. Uninjured by the gunshot, DeSantis immediately returned fire and killed Alexis. In all, thirteen people were killed and eight others were injured, three from gunfire. Williams and DeSantis were given the Medal of Valor, Medal of Honor and the Blue Badge Medal on February 20, 2014, during a ceremony to honor them and the 170 law enforcement officers, including 57 MPD officers, who responded and entered the building to search for Alexis.[33]



The Metropolitan Police Department is headed by a Chief of Police. Currently, the Chief of Police is Peter Newsham who replaced former chief Cathy Lanier in 2016.

The MPD's organization consists of the Executive Office of the Chief of Police (led by a Chief Operating Officer) and seven bureaus. These include:

  • Patrol Services North
  • Patrol Services South
  • Homeland Security Bureau
  • Corporate Support Bureau
  • Professional Development Bureau
  • Investigative Services Bureau
  • Internal Affairs Bureau

Each bureau is headed by an Assistant Chief or Executive Director (civilian equivalent).[32]

The city is divided into seven Police Districts which fall under one of the two Patrol Services Bureaus. The First, Sixth and Seventh Districts report to Patrol Services South while the Second, Third, Fourth, and Fifth Districts report to Patrol Services North.[34] Each Police District is headed by a District Commander. Inspectors are either assistant executive officers of a district or are also in charge of district substations. Captains are district administrative officers who each oversee several Police Service Areas (PSAs) within a police district. Lieutenants are either in charge of units or oversee an individual PSA. Both Captains and Lieutenants serve on a rotating basis as Watch Commanders.[32]

Persons who are hired by the MPD spend at least 28 weeks at the Maurice T. Turner Jr., Metropolitan Police Academy receiving basic instructions in police work. They are then assigned to one of the seven Police Districts and are assigned to a Field Training Officer who continues to monitor their progress and training. The entire process lasts through an 18-month probationary period. At the end of the probationary period, officers are certified to patrol on their own, apply to specialized units, and progress through the department's hierarchy.[35][36]

Specialized units

The MPD has a limited number of specialized units. Patrol officers, if selected, can become members of their Police District's Crime Suppression Team, which remains under the direct command of their respective patrol district. These officers most often work in uniform and are tasked with specific initiatives from their district level officials. The Investigative Services Bureau has within it the Narcotics & Special Investigations Division (NSID) which has several specialized units to include the Criminal Apprehension Unit (CAU), the Criminal Interdiction Unit (CIU), the Narcotics Enforcement Unit (NEU) and the Gun Recovery Unit (GRU). These units focus on different areas of crime and work in concert with patrol and investigative units across the city.

Other specialized units in the MPD are under the Special Liaison Branch that works with various parts of Washington's population. These include the Asian Liaison Unit (ALU), the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Liaison Unit (DHHU), the Gay and Lesbian Liaison Unit (GLLU), and the Latino Liaison Unit (LLU).[37]

Under the MPD's Homeland Security Bureau is the Special Operations Division (SOD) which houses the department's units that have city wide responsibilities and functions. This includes the Emergency Response Team, the Explosive Ordnance Disposal Unit, the Civil Disturbance Unit, the Harbor Patrol Unit, the Canine Unit, the Motorcycle Unit, the Mounted Unit, the Air Support Unit, and Special Events which coordinates presidential or diplomatic escorts and plans for protests, demonstrations, and marches.[5]

Emergency Response Team

The Emergency Response Team (ERT) was formed in April 1984, as a full-time unit tasked with performing a number of specialist tactical duties for the department. The ERT, along with the Explosive Ordnance Unit (EOU) compromise the Special Tactics Branch (STB) of the Special Operations Division (SOD).

The Special Tactics Branch is currently commanded by a Captain and consists of the Negotiations Unit, The EOU, and the ERT. The Negotiations Unit is commanded by a Lieutenant, with a sergeant as his deputy, and several other officers. The EOU is commanded by a Sergeant, and is composed of five bomb technicians, and five K-9 officers with explosive detection dogs.

Police officers wishing to become members of the ERT must first pass an extensive selection process that begins with a review of the applicants record. Those applicants who pass, are then subjected to a firearms proficiency test, and a grueling urban obstacle course designed to test their physical stamina and agility. Those candidates who remain are then given a written test and an oral interview by senior members of the ERT, who grade the candidates performance on both. The remaining hopefuls then undertake a six-week ERT basic training course. Once assigned to the team, ERT operators are required to undertake two hours of physical training each morning in order to maintain the level of fitness, and complete hundreds of hours of training each year.

In addition to its own rigorous training program the ERT regularly conducts training exercises, and operations with other law enforcement agencies and tactical units including the US Secret Service, the US Capital Police, the US Park Police, The Diplomatic Security Service, the ATF, DEA, FBI, U.S. Marshal's Service, Metro Transit Police, Defense Protective Service, Federal Protective Service, Prince George County Police, Baltimore County Police, the USMC, and the US Army.

The ERT also sponsors an annual training event known as the MPDC SWAT competition. During the competition tactical teams from across the nation, and Canada, compete in five events that are designed to test their physical and mental abilities. Events include a tactical shooting exercise, a rappelling event, tactical deployment exercise, hostage rescue scenario, and a physical fitness exercise.

As one might expect in one of the world's most prominent capitol cities, the ERT is kept busy, and conducts operations on an almost a daily basis. The ERT remains one of the best equipped tactical units in the nation. Team members are outfitted with a wide variety of high quality equipment. Uniforms consist of black flame-resistant coveralls, either an Israeli produced ballistic helmet, or U.S. PASGT-style Kevlar helmets. A customized level IIIA tactical vest with additional drop in "trauma" plates. Motorola radios with a hands free throat mikes. Boots consist of various models depending on individual operator preference.

Weapons in use by the ERT are known to include the following: SIG Sauer P226 9mm pistols with attached SureFire 3-volt tactical lights, Colt M635 9mm submachine guns with SureFire lights, Uzi 9mm submachine guns, M16A2 and M4A1 5.56mm rifles, some of which have been fitted with Aimpoint scopes, Remington 870 12-gauge shotguns, Remington 700 .308 caliber Police sniper rifles, with Leupold 6.5 X 20 optics, .22 caliber rifles, 37mm gas guns, and various chemical and distraction/diversionary devices.

The team also maintains three government surplus [Cadillac Gage Ranger Peacekeeper armored cars] for use in the event of civil disorder, sniper incidents, or other situations where it is deemed necessary to provide a degree of extra protection to the officers. The team is also equipped with a mobile equipment- carrying vehicle.

Rank structure, insignia and uniform

These are the current ranks of the Metropolitan Police Department:[32]

Title Insignia Uniform Badge Style
Chief of Police
US-O10 insignia.svg
White shirt, blue pants Gold badge
Assistant Chief
US-O8 insignia.svg
White shirt, blue pants Gold badge
US-O6 insignia shaded.svg
White shirt, blue pants Gold badge
US-O5 insignia.svg
White shirt, blue pants Gold badge
US-O3 insignia.svg
White shirt, blue pants Gold badge
US-O2 insignia.svg
White shirt, blue pants Gold badge
MPDC Sergeant Stripes.png
Blue shirt, blue pants Gold badge
Master Patrol Officer
MPDC Corporal Stripes.png
Blue shirt, blue pants Silver badge
Patrol Officer First Class
First Class Stripes - Blue w-White.png
Blue shirt, blue pants Silver badge
Patrol officer
Blue shirt, blue pants Silver badge
Recruit officer
Tan shirt, tan pants None

Recruit officer is the initial rank of oncoming Metropolitan Police Officers, held while undergoing training at the Metropolitan Police Academy.

The rank of Police Officer First Class holds no supervisory authority, and is used as a title for commendation.

Master Patrol Officers are assigned much of the field training duties, and hold supervisory authority in the absence of a higher ranking superior.

The MPD adopts a rank differentiation method via the uniforms worn. Officers up through the rank of Master Patrol Officer wear light blue shirts and silver badges with 'M.P.D.' insignia pinned on each side of the collar and silver cap plates. Sergeants also wear the same light blue shirt but they wear gold badges, gold collar insignia, and gold cap plates instead of silver. Uniformed headgear of all ranks consists of an 8-point visored hat, similar to those worn by the NYPD and San Francisco Police Departments.

Higher-ranking officers (Lieutenant and above) wear white shirts with gold badges with gold 'M.P.D.' insignia pinned on each side of the collar. Their insignia of rank is displayed on the shoulder epaulettes of the uniform (as in the military). The badges and cap plates for higher-ranking officers are gold and engraved with the wearers rank-title. With the exception of their badges and rank insignia the outer uniform dress is the same for all ranks, but may include a blazer with any awarded service ribbons displayed above the badge.


Detectives do not hold supervisory authority over a sergeant and above and do not have supervisory authority over uniformed officers except when taking charge of a crime scene. Members who hold the rank of sergeant or above but are assigned to the Criminal Investigation Division or have investigatory duties, are referred to with the "Detective" title in front e.g. "Detective-Sergeant".[32]

Title Notes
Detective I
Awarded as special recognition for outstanding service and holds minimal supervisory authority when no sergeant is on scene. Requires 7 years of service, 5 of which must be spent as a Detective II
Detective II
Requires completing 1 year as an Investigator
Training and evaluation phase for those wanting to become full detectives


The department maintains approximately 3,600 sworn officers and 435 civilian support staff,[38] making it one of the ten largest police forces within the United States.[4] The department historically has been known for hiring a large number of African American police officers during times when African American police officers were uncommon in other U.S. police departments.[39] In 1968, African Americans constituted 25% of the department's force and in 1970 constituted 35% of the department's force.[40]

The MPD has remained a very diverse department. Currently, officers are approximately 77% male and 23% female. Ethnically, the department is composed of approximately 59% African American, 32% white, 7% Hispanic, and 2% Asian.[32]

Line of duty deaths

Since the establishment of the Metropolitan Police Department, 121 officers have died in the line of duty. The MPD maintains a comprehensive list of remembrance on its memorial webpage.[41] The cause of deaths are as follows:

Cause of death Number of deaths
Aircraft accident
Animal related
Automobile accident
Bicycle accident
Duty-related illness
Gunfire (Accidental)
Heart attack
Motorcycle accident
Struck by streetcar
Struck by vehicle
Vehicle pursuit
Vehicular assault


Vehicle Country of origin Type Notes Picture
Ford Police Interceptor Sedan  United States of America Cruiser 2013 Ford Police Interceptor sedan -- 07-11-2012.JPG
Ford Police Interceptor Utility  United States of America Cruiser MPD Ford Explorer.JPG
Dodge Charger Pursuit  United States (origin)
 Canada (manufacture)
Cruiser Dodge Charger of the Metropolitan Police Department.jpg
Chevrolet Impala 9C1  United States (origin)
 Canada (manufacture)
Cruiser 06-09 Chevrolet Impala police.jpg
Ford Crown Victoria Police Interceptor  United States (origin)
 Canada (manufacture)
Cruiser MPDC cruiser 130.jpg
Ford E-350  United States of America Van MPD E-350 No63 2010-10-30.JPG
Ford F-550  United States of America Truck Used by the MPD Special Operations Division MPD SOD F-550 No8649 2010-10-30.JPG
Dodge Ram  United States of America Truck MPDC Dodge Ram (3559724681).jpg
Harley-Davidson FLHP  United States of America Motorcycle MPDC Police Harley.jpg

In popular culture

Lua error in package.lua at line 80: module 'strict' not found. The MPD has been featured in several novels, films, and television series. In these depictions it is often, but incorrectly, referred to as the "Metro" Police instead of the "Metropolitan" Police. There is a distinction as the "Metro Police" is the commonly used name to refer to the police department of The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, a multi-jurisdictional agency (DC/Maryland/Virginia). The primary jurisdiction of the "Metro Police" is the metropolitan area subway (known as "The Metro") and the bus transit system whereas MPD has jurisdiction throughout Washington DC.


  • Author James Patterson features MPD police detective Alex Cross in the Alex Cross series of books.
  • The novels of George Pelecanos, which are largely set in the Washington, D.C. area, have included several major and minor characters who are active or former MPD officers.
  • The novels of Margaret Truman feature MPD detectives. The 1997 film Murder at 1600 was based on her first novel.
  • The 2009 novel True Blue by David Baldacci stars a former MPD officer and her older sister who is the Chief of Police. The chief in the novel was loosely based on Chief Cathy Lanier. Baldacci spent time shadowing MPD officers and interviewed Chief Lanier for the novel.[42]
  • The novels of Matthew Iden feature retired MPD Detective Marty Singer.


  • The TV series The X-Files often features the MPD, in some cases, responding to incidents in neighboring Prince George's County and Montgomery County.
  • The syndicated CBS television series The District (2000-2004), dramatized the daily goings on of the police department.
  • The TV series NCIS (2003-current), has several references to the MPD, and depicts several interactions between MPD officers/detectives and NCIS agents.
  • The TV series Bones (2005-2017), has MPD officers usually as background characters at crime scenes that are set in Washington, D.C.
  • The 2009 season of the TV series 24 on Fox starring Kiefer Sutherland has featured the MPD in a few episodes which center around a terrorist plot against the White House. The MPD are shown working with the FBI and other major government agencies.
  • In the TV series Lie To Me (2009-2011), deception expert Dr. Cal Lightman occasionally is hired by the city to work with MPD on important cases.
  • The online U.S. TV series House of Cards (2013-current), features the MPD in several episodes, specifically in the first season when they play a prominent role in the development of a coverup. The Police Chief is incorrectly portrayed as the Police "Commissioner".
  • The TV series Minority Report features the 2065 iteration of the department.
  • The second and third episodes of 24: Legacy feature the MPD.


  • The 1992 action movie Live Wire features multiple interactions between Pierce Brosnan's character and MPD officers.
  • In the film True Lies (1994), Arnold Schwarzenegger's character knocks a MPD Mounted Unit to the ground and commandeers his horse for the pursuit of a terrorist.
  • In the 1997 film Murder at 1600, an MPD homicide detective (portrayed by Wesley Snipes) investigates a murder at the White House.
  • Harrison Ford portrays MPD Internal Affairs Sergeant William "Dutch" Van Den Broeck in the 1999 film Random Hearts.
  • In the film The Invasion (2007), Nicole Kidman's character is caught in an altercation with an MPD officer who has been infected by an alien disease.
  • In the 2007 film xXx: State of the Union, the MPD is featured.[43]
  • In the 2007 film Live Free or Die Hard MPD officers are shown attempting to deal with the city's technological meltdown.
  • In the 2009 film State of Play, two reporters investigate a series of murders in conjunction with MPD. MPD cruisers are shown in several scenes.
  • In the 2010 film Salt, MPD officers briefly appear attempting to stop the main character played by Angelina Jolie.
  • The MPD makes an appearance in 2011 film Transformers: Dark of the Moon. During the filming on the streets of the National Mall, an actual MPD K9 unit SUV was responding to an emergency call and accidentally collided with a Chevrolet Camaro being used on set as the on duty police officer disregarded the warnings of other officers to avoid the location shooting.
  • The films Olympus Has Fallen and White House Down (both released in 2013) show MPD officers attempting to respond to attacks on the White House.
  • In the 2014 film Captain America: The Winter Soldier, a scene occurs where a team of HYDRA operatives disguised as MPD officers and SWAT team members ambush Nick Fury in his armored SUV in an attempt to assassinate him.

Video games

  • The 2003 video game Midtown Madness 3 features an MPD cruiser.
  • The 2010 video game Splinter Cell: Conviction involves a mission where the protagonist, Sam Fisher works alongside MPD officers and Secret Service agents while defending the White House.
  • The 2013 video game Payday 2 takes place in Washington, D.C. where the crew regularly violently clash with MPD officers and FBI SWAT agents as a result of their heists and robberies.

See also


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  17. Raymond W. Pullman, “Annual Report of the Major & Superintendent of the Metropolitan Police,” pp. 10-11, 76-81 (1919).
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  19. New York Times: "Veteran dies of wounds," August 2, 1932, accessed August 30, 2011
  20. TIME: "Heroes: Battle of Washington," August 8, 1932, accessed August 30, 2011: "Last week William Hushka's Bonus for $528 suddenly became payable in full when a police bullet drilled him dead in the worst public disorder the capital has known in years."
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  24. Feaver, Douglas. "Three men shot at the side of their President", The Washington Post, March 31, 1981.
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  31. National Park Service Responding to the September 11 Terrorist Attacks
  32. 32.0 32.1 32.2 32.3 32.4 32.5 MPD Annual Report 2012
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  35. MPD General Orders Police Officer Initial Training Program
  36. MPD General Orders Field Training Program
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Further reading

External links