- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 5, 2005

A proposal to hire 1,600 new police officers to patrol city neighborhoods got a cold reception yesterday from the mayor’s office and the police chief.

Metropolitan Police Chief Charles H. Ramsey told the D.C. Council that the idea of putting more officers on the streets is laudable, but the department probably couldn’t justify or afford adding so many.

Salaries alone would cost about $100 million, said Edward D. Reiskin, deputy mayor for public safety and justice.

“I don’t disagree that more officers may be needed,” Chief Ramsey said. “My disagreement is with the numbers. If you don’t do it carefully, you end up hiring people who ought not be police officers.”

Adding 300 officers to the force of 3,800 with a focus on community policing would be more reasonable, Chief Ramsey said.

A bill sponsored by Vincent B. Orange Sr., Ward 5 Democrat who is running for mayor, calls for creating a special division for community policing with 200 new officers for each of the eight wards.

Only about half of the current police force is available for patrols because so many officers are assigned to administrative functions or on leave for a disability, Mr. Orange said.

About a dozen witnesses testified in support of hiring more officers, citing pervasive drug dealing and shootings on city streets.

Other council members proposed tackling the city’s violent crime rate with a greater emphasis on treatment for drug addictions, an idea Chief Ramsey endorsed.

“We’re not going to arrest our way out of this situation,” he said.

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