WASHINGTON, D.C. – Washington, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser has finally come to grips with reality. Her “Defund the Police” movement didn’t work. Since 2020, Bowser has presided over skyrocketing crime, a surge in gun violence and a record rate of carjackings and armed robberies.
After being part of the movement that has turned the nation’s capital into a lawless urban disaster, Bowser said she will reverse course and start hiring more police officers in the city.
Instead of defunding the police, Bowser now realizes she was wrong and is refunding the police after slashing the department’s budget in 2020.
Bowser and Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) Chief Robert J. Contee III highlighted the Mayor’s $30 million investment in getting MPD back on the path to 4,000 sworn officers. Through investments in hiring, recruitment, and retention, the Mayor’s proposed budget will allow MPD to hire 347 officers in Fiscal Year 2023, including 258 new recruits, 42 residents graduating from the cadet program, and bringing back 47 retired law enforcement officers. The Mayor’s budget is based on the maximum amount of officers that the Chief has determined can be appropriately on-boarded in one year. Accounting for anticipated attrition, these efforts will allow for a small amount of net growth in FY23.
“This budget does what DC residents all over our city are asking me to do – get our Metropolitan Police Department fully staffed and resourced with the officers they need to keep our community safe. That means getting MPD on the path back to 4,000 sworn officers,” said Mayor Bowser. “As we get back to 4,000 officers, we’re focused on hiring DC residents to be DC police and we’re also focused on hiring more female officers. And our cadet program helps us do both. Combined with our investments in non-police prevention and intervention efforts, and combined with our investments in recreation opportunities for young people, this investment in MPD is going to help us build a safer, stronger DC.”
Bowser tried to turn the page on her past pledge to “defund” the Metro Police Department. In 2022, Bowser cut the police department’s budget by 6% in response to BLM “Defund the Police” movement.
“We fund the police at the level that we need it funded. And my [city] council has my current budget proposal in front of them to give every neighborhood in Washington, D.C., the police support that they need. And so my budget doesn’t fund it a penny more than we need and certainly not a penny less,” she said after slashing police funding in 2020 for the 2021 budget.
“Mayor Bowser’s budget makes critical investments to ensure the Metropolitan Police Department can return to a stable staffing position that supports the police work that our residents and communities want,” said Chief Contee. “However, policing is only one part of the citywide public safety plan, and her proposed budget continues important investments in violence prevention programs and alternatives to police responses.”
These investments in MPD are in addition to the $80 million of non-police violence prevention and intervention efforts included in the Mayor’s budget. These prevention and intervention investments build on the $59 million Building Blocks investment in FY22, and include programs like a new life coach program that will provide case management services to the approximately 250 individuals in the community who have been identified as being at the highest risk of being involved in gun violence.
Mayor Bowser and Chief Contee also held a ceremony to honor the principals of Dunbar High School, Eastern Senior High School, and Ballou Senior High School for their support of MPD’s Cadet Corps program. Since FY18, these three schools have graduated highest number of cadets and have supported the promotion of the program through Prospect Days and information sessions with students.
The Metropolitan Police Department Cadet Corps is a specialized program for seniors in high school to 24-year-old Washingtonians to serve part-time as uniformed, civilian employees. Members of the Cadet Corps earn a salary, starting at $35,637, while also taking college courses, and earn up to 60 tuition free credits toward a degree at the University of the District of Columbia Community College. Cadets spend part of their time working specific job assignments for MPD while also working toward their degree. The members are put on the track to enter MPD’s Police Officer Recruit Program at the Metropolitan Police Academy.
Today, Mayor Bowser also released MPD’s 2021 Annual Report. The MPD report shows that despite an unprecedented start to the year, ranging from a global pandemic to the insurrection at the US Capitol, MPD continued to move forward in implementing innovative policing techniques, outreach programs, and prevention initiatives.
In 2021, MPD established numerous critical units and community initiatives. In early 2021, Chief Contee announced the creation of the Carjacking Task Force, to address carjackings, auto thefts, and other vehicle crimes in DC, and the Community Focused Patrol Unit, established with a focus on communities experiencing higher rates of violent crime. Acknowledging the critical role that young people play in bettering the community, Chief Contee established the Youth and Family Engagement Bureau to connect and establish relationships with our youth in DC.
Throughout the past year, Mayor Bowser and MPD have placed emphasis on partnering with our local and federal partners to improve our intelligence sharing. One example of this was the creation of the National Integrated Ballistic Information Network Investigations Unit, a federal partnership with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the United States Attorney’s Office in DC. This intelligence-led group supports the investigations and prosecutions of non-fatal shootings, homicides, and violent gun offenders in the city.
Additionally, in 2021, Chief Contee created the “Strengthening Community Connections” initiative, which tasked each bureau with developing relationships with our community members and the diverse communities they serve. The department’s outreach led to the need for an open-dialogue with our youth, thus establishing MPD’s first “Youth Summit,” which gave the department first-hand knowledge on how our DC youth believe MPD can be more effective in addressing all disparities and inequities within our community.