Region Forward Blog

Q&A: Paul Quander District of Columbia Deputy Mayor of Public Safety and Justice

Mar 13, 2014
A Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) officer and a young DC resident. Deputy Mayor Quander oversees MPD. Photo courtesy of MPD.


Paul Quander is the appointed Deputy Mayor of Public Safety and Justice of the District of Columbia. The Deputy Mayor has had a long career in litigation civil service and criminal justice. As Deputy Mayor Mr. Quander oversees a wide array of public safety services including the Metropolitan Police Department Fire Department Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management and an array of other public safety bodies for the District of Columbia. He is a native of the District and a proud resident of Ward 7. In this Region Forward Q & A Quander discusses the essential integration of public safety services across jurisdictions his lifelong work in and for the District of Columbia and innovative safety policies. Mr. Quander has served as COG’s Emergency Preparedness Council Chair since 2013.

What got you interested in public service?

I’m a lawyer and I wanted to try cases. That’s what I was doing. I was doing juvenile prosecutions followed by complex civil litigation. I received a promotion to be the General Counsel for the Department of Corrections for DC. I saw all of the issues impacting the department: overcrowding litigation among them.

I moved from litigation to making things happen faster. I became an Administrator that could have impact on changing improving and having the impact on the operations of a facility and to provide men and women for greater opportunities for success. I did that for five years and that really excited me. It was an opportunity for me to learn to be creative to work with men and women that didn’t previously receive attention or praise. It gave me a sense of purpose: a drive to achieve. To make a better life for individuals who were incarcerated for those men and women providing services to them.

How has your experience in criminal justice influenced your tenure as Deputy Mayor?

The time that I served as a prosecutor and a trial lawyer has helped my perspective and focus. The time spent as the Deputy Director for the DC Department of Corrections has allowed me to have a hands-on experience with getting things done I spent almost eight years with the DC office of US Attorney’s Office and there I prosecuted major gang cases drug traffickers as well as the first death penalty case in 50 years for DC. It informed my knowledge of how to improve the criminal justice system.

Additionally I was presidentially appointed as Director of the Court Services and Offenders Supervision Agency (CSOSA) an independent federal agency and served in that capacity for six years. From there I was the Medical Services Director of the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) where I ran the Police and Fire Clinic a medical facility dealing with worker’s compensation cases. Then I became Executive Director for Criminal Justice Coordinating Council (CJCC) for DC.

What has kept you in this Region?

I was born and raised in DC. This is home and I enjoy living here. This great city is growing into an even more diverse one. My wife and I have chosen to raise our family and after raising kids that are now adults it’s fun time in the city for us.

Please speak about the value of coordination across jurisdictions

We’ve created systems which have allowed us to have access to each other’s information. We have our Justice System software which is a computer based system whereby the PD can have access to certain info from the Parole & probation office. With this technology MPD and the US Attorney’s Office can coordinate information with Pre-Trial services .

DC has a relationship with the State of Maryland where we coordinate juvenile services information between jurisdictions. That information is kept highly protected during the sharing process. It is critical that this information is shared in real time through our current system. For instance a young person can commit a crime in the District of Columbia and 10 minutes later cross state lines. [He or she] may appear as a first time offender but because we share information we can identify the individual pull up information find supervising officer and prosecute as necessary.

We are always trying to strengthen our ties. Chiefs Lanier and Ellerbe meet on a regular basis to hold joint training exercises. SWAT teams across boundaries train together as they know tactics and regiments and one jurisdiction knows they might need to back up the other. Because of that relationship we can cross jurisdictional lines to identify the common ways we can defend ourselves.

This coordination was on display during the Navy Yard tragedy. Fairfax County dispatched a helicopter alongside the State of Maryland and Park Police to coordinate a phenomenal response highlighting a coordinated response across the region.

What has the District done to further cyber security in the Region?

The District has increased its use of fiber optics to share essential functions and has taken initiative to protect information and communications infrastructure. DC is unique in that we have our own system for public safety communications called VCNT as we are not dependent on a private carrier. We have taken measures to insure this. We’ve also enhanced security ops through our coordination with the George Washington University and our Security Operations Commission. The District established the Cyber Security Commission whose first initiative was to review the District’s cyber security program and we’ve just received their first annual report. The report will help us further secure and enhance our cyber security.

What is the District of Columbia doing in public safety other jurisdictions can emulate?

I think there are things we are doing extremely well. We have metrics that process gun statistics and use analytics to identify both likely victims and perpetrators: we use data to combat further crime. We have contact with all agencies in surrounding jurisdiction. We make sure that no harm comes to them or vice versa. If a parolee may be involved in something then the probation office will use GPS NPC to monitor whereabouts. If an individual gets a minor infraction that individual get papered and charged for that.

[Also in working with federal local partners and the DC Council] we have gotten legislation changed. For example when individuals with GPS units tampered with them we worked with the Council to make it a crime to tamper with a GPS tracking device. Our collaboration as a city is horizontal and vertical. Other jurisdictions may want to take a look at our model.

What policy that you have spearheaded has done the most to protect DC residents?

In his first year in office Mayor Gray’s administration wanted to make sure we had a safe summer for children. From that we spurred the DC Safe Summer Initiative. We brought all the agencies together to come up with a safety plan with MPD: the Office of the Medical Examiner Parks and Recreation Children’s Services to name a few.

We worked with the Summer Youth Employment Program to get young people hired to meaningful jobs with programs and services. We targeted certain areas with police activities and social services and as a result of these efforts we saw double digit decreases in violent crimes homicides and burglaries.

The mayor extended Summer to all year. In our present and third iteration we using data and working closely with schools to take it up another level. I am proud of the lasting and year-round results that came of the DC Safe Summer Initiative




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