WASHINGTON - Acting Metropolitan Police Department Chief of Police, Peter Newsham, stopped by FOX 5 to keep us updated on the safety of the District.
Newsham, says we'll have to wait about two more weeks before we can officially take the "acting" off of his title. D.C. City Council, he says, is expected to vote on May 2.
POTENTIAL SHORT STAFFING
Newsham says there are approximately 3800 officers on the force at this time and that new recruitment and retention initiatives proposed by Mayor Bowser should help keep those numbers high. Newsham said another initiative proposed by the mayor is the doubling of the number of cadets. He said there is no ‘magic’ number as far as staffing is concerned – the real measure is performance. "The number one is how are we doing with regards to crime," he said. "As you know in 2016, we had the lowest number of violent crimes in the city that we've had in more than a decade. That's pretty significant." He says he feels comfortable with current staffing numbers.
SUMMER CRIME & ATVs
The annual summer crime initiative will target parts of the city that traditionally see increases in violent crime. He also said the department will be very aggressive in targeting illegal ATV riders who they find on D.C. streets.
"What I would ask them to do is think about their mother or their sister or their brother driving down the street and being overcome like this," he said about the swarms of ATVs and dirt bike riders that often appear out of nowhere on city streets. "They may think it's fun but it's not fun. It's disrespectful to communities. It's disrespectful to families. And hopefully - if any of them are listening - they'll think about it and they won't be involved in that kind of thing."
Newsham said with the promotion of Chanel Dickerson to D.C. Police Youth and Family Services Commander, missing children cases in the District have received increased attention. He says the increase in awareness has allowed those missing to be found a lot faster and for citizens to get a better understanding of the cause of the problem.
"I think the body worn cameras are a good thing," he said. "We have the largest body worn camera deployment in the country as of December when we rolled out the second half of our cameras." Newsham said data collected will allow the effectiveness of the body cameras to be measured and will be ready for review this summer.
Newsham praised the commitment of D.C. Assistant Police Chief, Diane Groomes. He said her retirement will impact the department but her departure was expected. He said he expects to split her role into two new positions and has identified two possible replacements.