The D.C. Police Union on Tuesday called on local leaders to rethink policing overhauls after the nation’s capital recorded its 200th homicide of the year.
In a statement, union President Greggory Pemberton said the group does not want the grim milestone reached on Monday to be ignored.
“We hope this tragic loss of life does not go unnoticed and D.C. Council members reconsider police ‘reform’ policies that do nothing to improve public safety, as many leaders in other cities have already done,” Mr. Pemberton said.
The number of homicides this year has surpassed last year’s tally of 198, the highest rate in 16 years.
The union leader said 417 officers have left the Metropolitan Police Department since the D.C. Council passed emergency police legislation in the summer of 2020. The new laws limited officers’ ability to use deadly force and barred the department from buying military-style equipment from the federal government.
The legislation came amid protests and calls for policing overhauls spurred by the death of George Floyd, a Black man who was murdered in May 2020 by a White Minnesota police officer.
“Most of the members who have left cited the council’s treatment of law enforcement and political rhetoric, which not only makes policing more difficult and therefore less effective, but it also endangers police officers and their families,” Mr. Pemberton said.
The department, he said, has less than 3,400 officers — the lowest number in decades.
“Police officers are hamstrung, if not altogether unable to do the impactful and necessary tasks needed to confiscate illegal weapons, apprehend violent criminals and protect communities,” Mr. Pemberton said.
He called on local leaders to give the department the resources it needs to keep the community safe and to “temper rhetoric that encourages hostility and mistrust in police.”
The call to action came the day after D.C. officials announced a $7,500 reward for tips on illegal guns.
The city already offers up to $2,500 for information leading to the recovery of an illegal gun and now it will triple that reward for tips specifically resulting in the arrest of anyone possessing or trafficking “ghost” guns or illegally modified firearms.
The boosted reward will target illegal firearms including so-called ghost guns, or homemade guns without serial numbers, and guns with conversion devices commonly referred to as “auto sears” or “Glock switches.”
Police have recovered more than 2,000 illegal firearms this year — at least 42 of which had Glock switches and more than 300 of which are ghost guns, a spokesperson said Monday.
The Washington Times sent requests for comment on Tuesday to the Metropolitan Police Department and D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser, a Democrat.