The mayor of Washington DC has announced a plan to add 170 police officers to the city’s police force amid rising violent crime.
Muriel Bowser, a Democrat, said Wednesday she has requested an additional $11 million from the city council to pay for the hiring and training of 20 additional officers in fiscal year 2021 and 150 additional officers in 2022.
The Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) normally hires 250 officers each year, but last year the DC Council decided to pay the police $15 million – much to the mayor’s disapproval.
She said that amid rising crime, she instructed the MPD to let the officers work overtime, but said more needs to be done in the long run.
“At this point, I have instructed MPD to use whatever overtime is necessary to meet our public safety requirements,” Bowser said in a statement released Wednesday.
Muriel Bowser, the mayor of Washington DC, wants to expand the police force with 170 officers, she announced on Wednesday.
We invest in public health and social service approaches to change outcomes
We also need to make sure the chief of police has the officers he needs to keep our neighborhoods safe
— Muriel Bowser (@MurielBowser) July 26, 2021
With the United States Capitol in the background, a member of the Washington Metropolitan Police Department guards the scene of a shooting outside Nationals Park on July 17
“But we know this isn’t a complete solution or the right long-term solution.
“We also know that we need all our officers to be fresh, equipped and in the best position to make good decisions – and that requires full strength to meet all the needs of our community.
“The department is in a good position to take on additional hires and act quickly to close the gap between turnover and hiring, and that’s what this plan will help us do.”
Bowser said the additional $11 million will be spent on recruiting and training new officers, plus allowing retired senior police officers to return to the police force without penalty until retirement.
Bowser has strongly supported Black Lives Matter, but like President Joe Biden, he has opposed defunding the police.
“I’m concerned about the dwindling numbers, and it has been a feature of my tenure to ramp up the number of police officers,” she told Fox News.
“We need to make sure that we continue to argue the case with the members of the council to make sure there is money for the number of officers we need.”
Bowser has said the city needs more officers to cope with the increase in crime. Photo shows officers inspecting the site of a July 22 shooting along 14th Street in the heart of the city
She said the problem last year was that her budget was not approved, so they couldn’t hire more officers.
Bowser said the communities most affected by the rising crime rate in DC demanded more police presence.
The city has seen a spate of high-profile incidents this month.
On July 16, a six-year-old girl was shot dead in a drive-by shooting in the Congress Heights district of the capital.
Nyiah Courtney’s parents were both injured, along with three others. Police said her father is a suspected member of a local drug gang and may have been targeted. A suspect in the shooting, Marktwan Hargraves, 22, was arrested on Wednesday and charged with murder.
Nyiah Courtney, six, was shot and killed on July 16 during a drive-by shooting in Congress Heights, south of the city. On Wednesday, police announced the arrest of Marktwan Hargraves, who has been charged with her murder
A memorial to Nyiah Courtney can be seen in Washington DC, where she was shot on July 16
On July 17, a baseball game between the Washington Nationals and the San Diego Padres had to be canceled after a shooting just outside the stadium left a bystander caught in the crossfire and injured.
And on July 22, two men opened fire on diners outside a restaurant in the bustling Logan Circle district, injuring two.
Across the district, the homicide rate hit a 16-year high in 2020, and is set to continue this year.
Fans rush to evacuate after hearing gunshots during a baseball game between the San Diego Padres and Washington Nationals in Nationals Park on July 17
In 2020, there were 198 shootings, an increase of 19 percent from the previous year. This year is on track to surpass that, with homicides up four percent year over year.
“This is something we’ve been warning about for years,” DC Police Chief Robert Contee said when asked about the lack of resources he has to fight crime.
“We don’t really have the ability to recruit officers at this point.
“We have a certain amount of resources to cope with a very large city that continues to grow.”