D.C. firefighters sent to protect youth workers

Used as ‘deterrent’ in high-crime areas

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Having enough officers has been an ongoing problem for D.C. police officials as they often lose them to higher-paying agencies in and around the city.

The department employs about 3,850 officers, and officials have routinely testified about the need to hire hundreds more this year to offset an attrition rate that is expected to cut the force to 3,700 by next summer.

Wednesday was the first payday for residents, 14 to 21, in the summer employment program. Mr. Quander said one participant was mugged that morning.

In the first week of the program, two female participants reported sexual assaults at their job sites.

The program - which this year employs more than 14,000 residents in government and private-sector jobs for six weeks - was started in 1979 by Mayor Marion Barry and has had a history of problems, including mismanagement.

Under Mayor Adrian M. Fenty, the program was $30 million over budget in 2008, paying some nonresidents and others who never showed up to work. Last year, at least five participants reportedly were mugged on payday. Some were wearing T-shirts identifying them as part of the program.

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