DC Safe Surrender 2011 – An Interview with Assistant MPD Chief Peter Newsham

See http://media.csosa.gov for our television shows, blog and transcripts.

Radio Program available at http://media.csosa.gov/podcast/audio/2011/07/dc-safe-surrender-2011-an-interview-with-assistant-mpd-chief-peter-newsham/

We welcome your comments or suggestions at leonard.sipes@csosa.gov or at Twitter at http://twitter.com/lensipes.

[Audio Begins]

Cedric Hendricks: Hello. This is Cedric Hendricks and this is DC Public Safety.  Today we’re going to be talking about DC Safe Surrender with Metropolitan Police Department Assistant Chief, Peter Newsham. Welcome to DC Safe Surrender.

Peter Newsham:: Thank you Cedric.

Cedric Hendricks: Chief, can you tell us how many warrants there are outstanding in the District of Columbia and the types of warrants that you see?

Peter Newsham:  We have over 600 felony warrants that are outstanding.  The biggest category of cases that we have is misdemeanor bench warrants and there’s more than 12,000 of those, so that’s significant.  And then we have another category which is other warrants, is about 1,000.  So all told, we have more than 14,000 warrants outstanding.

Cedric Hendricks: And then one of the functions that the police department plays is arresting people on warrants.  And how does that typically happen?

Peter Newsham:  Absolutely.  We have warrant squads and that’s their function is to go out and find folks who are wanted on all of these warrants, you know, any warrant would come into play.  The other way, as you know, that people can be arrested when they have warrants outstanding on them is if they come into contact with a police officer.  It could be something as simple as a traffic accident.  They could be involved in a traffic accident, we run their name, their license and lo and behold if they have a warrant, we’re required to take them into custody.

Cedric Hendricks: Now can executing a warrant be a risky proposition for a police officer?

Peter Newsham:  Well, it can be, you know, because you don’t know what to expect when you’re serving a warrant.  They serve all kinds of warrants.  There’s been some very profile cases where officers have been either injured or killed serving warrants.  So there is, you know, the police have to be prepared for that potential eventuality is that it ends up becoming a violent confrontation.  Most of the folks, I would suspect that are wanted on the misdemeanor bench warrants would not pose that threat, but the officers don’t know that so they have to be prepared for those kinds of things.

Cedric Hendricks: Now DC Safe Surrender offers an opportunity for individuals with non-violent felony warrants, misdemeanor warrants, to turn themselves in.  So what do you see as the public safety benefit of an event like this that provides an opportunity.

Peter Newsham:  Well first of all, I mean it’s a benefit to the individual.  They can get this thing off of their back essentially.  They don’t have to be concerned about it hanging over their head.  You don’t, it’s very inconvenient to have a warrant served on you if you’re doing something, for example, at a family function, traveling somewhere, we’re going to take you into custody and you’re going to have to go through that process.  If you come down here one of these Saturdays in August, you can resolve the matter.  Once the matter is resolved, it’s resolved forever.  As far as a public safety piece for us, the value that we see is that, you know, we have these warrant squads that are out there and in some cases, they are trying to apprehend folks who are violent.  And they’re trying to evade capture.  Like I said, I don’t think the large majority of the folks that have these non-violent cases are in that category, but if we’re able to get some of those folks to come in, it frees up our warrant squad to get some of the more violent folks.  And that’s a benefit to everybody, to get the violent people off the streets.

Cedric Hendricks: Now one of the significant aspects of DC Safe Surrender is a collaboration of law enforcement agencies within the District of Columbia.  How important is that in the success of an endeavor like this?

Peter Newsham:  Oh, it’s very important and we’re very fortunate in the district because of the relationships that we have.  As you know, we have the local Metropolitan police, but we have a lot of federal agencies, the CSOSA, pre-trial services,  US Attorney’s Office, the Office of the Attorney General and all these folks, the courts of course.  All of these folks come into play.  And like I said, we had a relationship prior to going into the Safe Surrender Operation.  We had a Safe Surrender, as you know, about three years ago which was very successful.  But having those relationships is really critical to making the city safe.

Cedric Hendricks: Well now you mentioned the Safe Surrender back in 2007, I believe it was.  And it’s my understandingthat there were about 530 individuals that turned themselves in.  What is your hope as we approach Safe Surrender this time around, in terms of the success?  What would be a successful outcome as you said?

Peter Newsham:  Well, it’s going to be successful if we get any number of people to turn themselves in, a significant number of people you know?  If we get hundreds of people to turn themselves in, fantastic; If we get thousands of people to turn themselves in, even better.  You know, like I told you, being able to free up the warrant squads that are working in the city to go after the most violent people is really what the police department, I think it’s what most people expect the police department to do.

Cedric Hendricks: Well, we thank you for your participation here today.  This has been Cedric Hendricks talking with Metropolitan Police Department, Assistant Chief Peter Newsham about DC Safe Surrender.

[Audio Ends]


DC Safe Surrender 2011 – An Interview with Deputy Mayor for Public Safety Paul Quander

Welcome to DC Public Safety – radio and television shows on crime, criminal offenders and the criminal justice system.

See http://media.csosa.gov for our television shows, blog and transcripts.

Radio Program available at http://media.csosa.gov/podcast/audio/2011/07/dc-safe-surrender-2011-an-interview-with-deputy-mayor-for-public-safety-paul-quander/

We welcome your comments or suggestions at leonard.sipes@csosa.gov or at Twitter at http://twitter.com/lensipes.

[Audio Begins]

Cedric Hendricks:  Hello, this is Cedric Hendricks and welcome to DC Public Safety.  Today we’ll be speaking with Mr. Paul Quander, the Deputy Mayor for Public Safety and Justice about DC Safe Surrender.  Welcome Mr. Quander.

Paul Quander:  Hello, how are you?

Cedric Hendricks:  Could you tell us what is DC Safe Surrender?

Paul Quander:  DC Safe Surrender is an opportunity where all of the law enforcement partners, local, federal, judicial, legislative, have come together to provide an opportunity for men and women who have misdemeanor warrants and low level warrants, to provide them with an opportunity to turn themselves in to reconnect with their community and their lives.  It’s an opportunity for people to come get correct so that they can move on with their lives.  It’s an opportunity so that they can come, so that we can get a lot of these old outstanding warrants resolved so that individuals can move on, so they can get jobs, so they can continue their career.  So it’s an opportunity to move forward.

Cedric Hendricks:  Now what is a public safety benefit for the individual and this community by allowing an opportunity for people to come in and self-surrender?

Paul Quander:  There is a significant overall public safety benefit.  The more people that come in voluntarily, the less law enforcement resources need to be expended to look for, to search for individuals.  The other thing is that it helps us to continue to connect with the community.  We want to be in the business of preventing crimes.  We want to be in the business of trying to reestablish our communities and making sure that they’re safe places to live.  A lot of the people that we’re targeting have turned their lives around.  They are no longer involved in any type of criminal conduct.  So they have gone the right path.  So now it’s time for them just to come on in, let us take care of these outstanding issues, let’s make it right and then let’s move forward.  So there’s a significant public safety implication here.

Cedric Hendricks:  Now DC Safe Surrender was first done back in 2007 and you were instrumental in making that happen here.  What were some of the achievements of that Safe Surrender and how are those inspiring you all to want to do this again?

Paul Quander:  Well, you know we often talk about working together as a government.  That was one of the most significant endeavors whereby every part of the criminal justice system, every component, was involved in fugitive safe surrender.  And it wasn’t just the criminaljustice agencies, but it was the community at large.  We had a religious partner, Bible Way Church and all the members of Bible Way that accepted this initiative.  They took it on as one of their projects for giving back to their community.  So it brought the criminal justice partners, it brought the religious community; it brought the community at large together and was located in a church and in a safe environment just as the environment of Superior Court will be for this event.  And it allowed us to reconnect with our community.  There are in excess of 500 men and women who came in and got their lives turned around.  When you think about 500, more than 500 individuals, that’s a significant number and some of them had outstanding warrants from the 60’s.  And that’s a long time to have something hanging over your head.  And a lot of these matters were resolved right then, right there.  So it was a resounding success.  It’s a great example of community partnering and community resolve to help everyone.  So that’s why we wanted to do it again.  We wanted to offer it so that anyone that is out there that has this type of low level misdemeanor, non-violent offense, can turn themselves in in a safe environment and will receive favorable consideration to get the matter resolved.

Cedric Hendricks:  Now why should people get favorable consideration?  That certainly is a hallmark of Safe Surrender.  Why is that something you can get through this door and not otherwise?

Paul Quander:  The main reason is because of their own volition, their own will, the fact that they have decided themselves that they want to come in and have these matters addressed.  It’s quid pro quo.  They get something, law enforcement and public safety receives something.  And the community wins as a whole.  So if they can come in, get these matters resolved, then it’s law resources that need to be expended from the police, from the prosecutors, from probation and parole, right on down the line.  So the earlier we can get matters resolved, the better it is for everyone that is concerned.

Cedric Hendricks:  And finally, when will DC Safe Surrender be taking place?   August 13th,

Paul Quander:  I know there are three successive

Cedric Hendricks:  20th and 27th.

Paul Quander:  Right, there are three successive Saturdays that we want to open this up at Superior Court, 500 Indiana Avenue.  And we’re asking men and women to come in.  And we’re also asking for family members to come in and to support them.  This is an event for the community so if you have a grandson, if you have a nephew, if you have a niece, if you have a daughter, and they have an outstanding warrant, come down with them.  It’s open to the public.  It’s open for family members.  And we want to get as many people to come in and to participate with us in August so that we can have a safe summer and so that beginning with the new school year, people will be free of anything that’s heading over their heads.

Cedric Hendricks:  We’ve been talking with Mr. Paul Quander, the Deputy Mayor for Public Safety and Justice.  He’s been briefing us on DC Safe Surrender.  Thank you very much Mr. Quander.

Paul Quander:  Thank you for the opportunity.

[Audio Ends]