Washington, D.C., mayor Muriel Bowser called on the city council to hire 170 new officers for the Metro Police Department on Wednesday, amid a surge in homicides and shootings in the nation’s capital.
Bowser asked the city council to approve $11 million for the hiring of 20 officers for the 2021 fiscal year and 150 officers for the 2022 fiscal year. The city council voted to cut the police budget by $15 million in 2020, following George Floyd demonstrations and calls to “defund the police.”
“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 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 mayor’s office said that following last year’s budget cut, “MPD has only been able to hire 42 officers” and “was unable to host any recruit classes at the Police Academy this year.” Bowser has asked MPD to use overtime “as residents across DC—and especially residents who live in neighborhoods most impacted by gun violence—continue to ask for a strong, sustained police presence.”
Washington saw 198 homicides in 2020, the most in 16 years, and is on track to match that level with 111 homicides so far this year.
The city has seen several high-profile incidents of gun violence in recent weeks, including the shooting death of a six-year-old girl and a shooting at Nationals Park that caused fans to flee the stadium during a baseball game.