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“As the number of police officers continues to fall and crime continues to increase, we now know which politicians declined to take action to protect the residents of the District and helped cede our public safety decisions to Congress,” he said.

Mr. Baumann pointed to official crime statistics that show year-to-date crime in the District is up by 6 percent compared with the same period in 2010.

Still, Chief Lanier praised the actions of the council.

“I appreciate the support of the council members who recognize that a commission to study attrition — which is much lower in the department than private industry and the federal government — is just a distraction from the important public safety efforts of the department, the council and the community,” she said.

The discussion Tuesday also allowed council members to air their own solutions to staffing issues or the anticipated summer crime wave.

Jack Evans, Ward 2 Democrat, said he has seen the force shrink from about 4,800 to 3,800 officers during his 20-year council tenure. He introduced a bill last month that mandates a city police force of 4,000 or more officers at all times.

“If we had that law in place, the prior administration could not have not funded the police to put us in this position,” Mr. Evans said.

He noted that the council decided in 2006 to fund 4,200 officers, but cut that number to 4,000 and let it lag further when it redirected funding.

“No one ever says I have too many police on the streets. It’s always the opposite,” he said. “Nothing would reflect worse on this city than an increase in crime. That will be the one issue that affects everyone.”

Jim Graham, Ward 1 Democrat, pointed to a funding issue of a different nature. With significant cuts to the District’s summer jobs program for youths, idle hands will become “the devil’s workshop,” he said.

After the hearing, Mr. Graham said incidents such as the April 21 shooting of two young victims at the 1400 Block of V Street Northwest suggest gang activity “is moving to the red-hot stage.”

“The difference is going to be palpable compared to prior summers,” he said. “We’ve got a huge challenge ahead of us.”