D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser said Wednesday that she is requesting an additional $11 million in budget funds to add more police officers as hiring this fiscal year has “ground to a halt.”
“Last year, unfortunately, we saw a $15 million reduction in [the police] budget and because of that reduction we have not been able to keep the hiring pipeline in full effect,” Miss Bowser said during a public safety briefing.
The Metropolitan Police Department typically trains more than 250 new officers each year, but the mayor says only 42 have been added so far during the current fiscal year, which ends on Sept. 30.
Miss Bowser is requesting a vote by the D.C. Council on her supplemental budget proposal, which she says would allow MPD to hire and train 20 more officers in FY21 and 150 more officers in FY22.
“We believe MPD is well-positioned to identify and hire the additional officers and help close the gap between hiring and attrition as soon as possible,” she said.
The D.C. Council is currently considering the Democratic mayor’s $514 million operating budget plan for the upcoming fiscal year, which amounts to a nearly 6% decrease in funding compared to the previous approved budget.
Miss Bowser’s Wednesday news conference comes one month after D.C. Police Chief Robert J. Contee III said he expects the rate of attrition to continue to outpace hiring since recruitment processes “had to be shut down this year.”
Chief Contee told the D.C. Council Committee on the Judiciary and Public Safety that last year’s budget cuts will ultimately result in a net loss of more than 200 officers. He also said the department probably will not be able to begin hiring again until April 2022.
“And because of the time necessary to refill the hiring pipeline, plus the intense competition for qualified recruits, the best-case scenario is that we will end FY22 with around 3,460 police officers — the smallest police force our growing city has had in more than two decades,” the chief said.
Charles Allen, Ward 6 Democrat and chairman of the judiciary and public safety committee, said he will be reviewing the mayor’s supplemental budget proposal and he “looks forward” to discussing it during Thursday’s council oversight roundtable on gun violence.