The D.C. Police Union is criticizing the city council for “demonizing” officers as the Metropolitan Police Department struggles to maintain staff amid an uptick in violent crime.
Union President Gregg Pemberton said Monday in a statement that the District recorded its 100th homicide last week, which is the earliest date in the year for that tally since 2003.
There also have been roughly 200 carjackings this year, and nearly 400 officers have turned in their badges since last summer.
“This increase in crime can only be attributed to the D.C. Council’s implementation of several police reform bills and their chilling effect on professional and responsible policing,” Mr. Pemberton said in his statement.
Since the bills were enacted in June 2020, at least 386 police officers have retired or resigned, he said. Nearly half of those who hung up their handcuffs (46%) resigned, which he said is the “most alarming.”
“These bills have had the unintended consequences of causing officers to leave [the force] at an alarming rate, increasing crime in our most vulnerable communities, and negatively impacting police service,” Mr. Pemberton said.
The 3,500-member police force is at its lowest number in decades and most members who left reportedly cited the lawmakers’ treatment of law enforcement that “not only makes their jobs harder, but now endangers them and their families,” the union president added.
“The City Council needs to stop maligning and disparaging law enforcement through rhetoric and misguided legislation so police officers can [do] their jobs and prevent violence from proliferating in the District,” Mr. Pemberton said.
He called on city officials to work together to make the changes to policing that citizens desire, while also protecting them from crime.
D.C. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson pushed back on the union president’s comments Monday during a press conference.
“I get that they don’t like the change in the national attitude about policing but to blame the increase in gun violence on council legislation, there’s nothing to back that up,” said Mr. Mendelson, at-large Democrat. “That’s a cause and effect without any basis.”
Mayor Muriel Bowser said she doesn’t quarrel with the union’s assertion about fewer officers on the force. She was scheduled later Monday to meet with President Biden, Attorney General Merrick Garland and other big-city mayors and police chiefs to discuss rising crime rates.
Miss Bowser, a Democrat, also noted that the District is unique in that the federal government plays an “outsized role in our criminal justice system,” which she said will be discussed at the meeting.
The Washington Times has reached out to Chris Geldart, deputy mayor for public safety and council member Charles Allen, Ward 6 Democrat and chairman of the Judiciary and Public Safety Committee, for comment.
• Shen Wu Tan contributed to this story.