commander’s corner

Commander Ralph McLean

Ralph McLean currently serves as the Commander of the First District. Located in the lower central portion of the District of Columbia, the First District is home to the city’s business and political center. It includes some of our nation’s most recognized and cherished landmarks, as well as some of the city’s most interesting and diverse neighborhoods. McLean was appointed as the commander of the First District in July 2021.

Commander McLean joined the Metropolitan Police Department in February 1983, and began his career as a patrol officer in the Third District following his training at the Metropolitan Police Academy. He moved to the Special Operations Division (SOD) Special Events Branch in 1986 before being promoted to the rank of sergeant in July 1988 and transferred to the SOD Harbor Patrol Unit. In October 1990, Commander McLean was promoted to lieutenant in the Third District. He remained at 3D for six years before returning to Harbor Patrol in December 1996. While a lieutenant, McLean served as the Commanding Officer of the MPD’s Harbor Patrol and was the city’s Harbormaster for 2½ years.

In January 1999, McLean was promoted to captain. Over the course of several years, he served in the Second, Fourth and First police districts. In July 2006, he was named Deputy Director of the Metropolitan Police Academy (MPA). Shortly over a year later, McLean transferred to the Internal Affairs Division where he served a year as commanding officer of Internal Investigation Branch and a subsequent year as commanding officer of the Force Investigation Team.

McLean returned to patrol services as captain in the Seventh District in 2009; he transferred to the Third District in October 2014. In April 2017, following his transfer to Patrol Services South, he received the Bureau Employee of the Year Award.

In November 2019, McLean was assigned to the Narcotics & Special Investigations Division (NSID) as the Assistant Division Commander. That same month, McLean was detailed to the Department of General Services (DGS) as Acting Associated Director of the Protective Services Division (PSD). Among other services, PSD provides security at the Wilson Building, the Consolidated Forensics Laboratory, and the DC Armory. Furthermore, PSD supervises over 500 contract Special Police Officers (SPOs) at approximately 88 other sites owned/leased/operated by the DC Government.

Commander Ralph McLean has received numerous awards and recognitions, including Meritorious Service Medal; Achievement Medal; Patrol Services South Employee of the Year Award; and Captain of the Year Award. Commander McLean holds a BA in Criminal Justice (1994) from the University of Maryland, and an MS in Management (2002) from Johns Hopkins University.

I am both humbled and honored to have been chosen by Chief of Police Robert Contee to lead the men and women of the First Police District. Throughout my 38-year tenure with MPD, I have been fortunate enough to be assigned to six of the seven police districts, with four years at the First District.

While I would like to say that things can’t have changed much and that my transition back to 1D will be seamless, I know that will not be the case. A community as large and as diverse as 1D — with thousands of residents, visitors, and daily commuters — has certainly changed over the past 15 years. I look forward to re-learning the residential neighborhoods and business communities, and to meeting the community members who call the first district their home. I am excited by the possibilities before me and I am hopeful that the community will come to trust me enough for us to have both the pleasant and the tough conversations that may lie ahead.

Those of you who have met me know I am a plain-spoken, honest person, who is always willing to listen and discuss important issues. For those of you who have not met me yet, I look forward to getting to know you and doing my best to serve the interests of all the citizens of the First Police District.

Commander Ralph McLean
First District Commander

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