The Metropolitan Police Department normally brings on 250 new officers a year, though in fiscal year 2021, top brass was only able to gain 42 officers: 21 cadets who later become recruits, 12 reinstatements, eight senior officers, and one leadership official after local leaders in June 2020 voted to slash $15 million from its budget, Bowser said. Since the dip in hirings, members of the force have been working overtime to make up for a lack of 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," the Democratic mayor said in a statement on Wednesday. "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."
The slash in funding prevented MPD from hosting "any recruit classes at the Police Academy this year," even as residents "continue to ask for a strong, sustained" law enforcement presence amid a perceived rise in "gun violence," Bowser said.
To support the hiring of officers, the mayor will send an $11 million supplemental budget for the purpose of training and hiring 20 additional officers in fiscal year 2021 and another 150 in fiscal year 2022.
Her budget increase will need to be approved by City Council members before it can take effect.
The city has seen several violent incidents in recent days. Last week, gunshots rang out in a high-end community in Washington in broad daylight. MPD later told the Washington Examiner that a call came in at roughly 8:20 p.m. about the shooting, which took place near 14th Street and Riggs Street Northwest.
Two adult males were conscious and breathing, the spokesperson added. One was shot in the arm and another in the chest.
Just hear what sounded like gun shots on 14th street in NW DC. People fleeing the popular Le Diplomate restaurant which seemed a few blocks away. pic.twitter.com/EuD40teccA
— Jim Acosta (@Acosta) July 23, 2021
The scare came less than a week after a shooting near Nationals Park occurred on Saturday, during which three people were wounded near the baseball stadium. Bystanders were seen jetting out of the stadium as mass panic ensued.
As of Wednesday, the city has seen a 4% rise in homicides compared to the same time frame in 2020, with a 24% increase in motor vehicle theft, according to MPD data. Sex abuse and assault with a deadly weapon have somewhat decreased during this time period, though robbery and thefts from vehicles have increased slightly, the MPD table shows.
Democratic strongholds throughout the country moved to reform police departments, often restricting funding in accordance with the "defund the police" movement, which has gained momentum in the aftermath of high-profile deaths connected to the Black Lives Matter movement.
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Original Author: Jake Dima