Washington, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser this week announced her intention for the city to hire about 170 additional police officers by the end of the next fiscal year after the D.C. Council cut the Metropolitan Police Department budget by about $15 million last year.
In a press release Wednesday, Bowser noted that she authorized police in the district to make use of all available overtime so the department can station officers throughout the city in the areas that have been most affected by violence, in addition to requesting $11 million in additional funding to hire more officers.
"Right now, I have directed MPD to use any overtime necessary to meet our public safety demands. But we know that is not a complete solution or the right long-term solution," Bowser said in the statement. "We also know we need all of our officers to be fresh, rested, and in the best position to make good decisions — and that requires having a full force to meet all of our community’s needs. The department is in a good position to make additional hires and move swiftly to close the gap between attrition and hiring, and that’s what this plan is going to help us do."
She added at a press conference on Wednesday, which announced the arrest of a suspect in the shooting death of a 6-year-old, that "we saw shooting incidents escalate last year during the pandemic. This year we’ve continued to experience an unacceptable level of gun violence. While we’ve actually seen a slight dip in where we were with gunshots, those gunshots have proven to be more fatal.
"We have called on the council to make sure they fully fund the needs of the Metropolitan Police Department," the mayor said. "I will be sending an additional $11 million supplemental budget request to the council this week to allow for the hiring of 20 new officers in [fiscal year 2021] and 150 new officers in [fiscal year 2022]."
D.C. Police Chief Robert Contee said that "we have an opportunity to look at our criminal justice system — the system is more than just courts. It’s an opportunity to see if the system aligns with what our community’s expectations are … Do our sentences align with what we think they should be when individuals do certain things in the community?"
He added that the "shrinking workforce" has left the department with 200 fewer officers than usual.
"What am I going to do with these resources?" he said. "People are really mad as hell right now, and I don’t blame them, because I am too ... I think people are sick and tired of being sick and tired. I think that people want to ensure that there is accountability for what’s happening in our communities."
Contee added that a lack of resources "is something that we’ve been warning about for years. We don't really have the ability to hire officers right now. We have a defined amount of resources to deal with a very large city that continues to grow."
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