As of Monday, the current sworn staffing at the Metropolitan Police Department is 3,869. The department is approved for 4,000 positions. The problem is this police shortage comes as violent crime is up across Washington D.C.
Tara Cookse moved to the Friendship Heights neighborhood to escape increased violence in her former U Street neighborhood.
Even so, Cookse said, “Our neighbor was mugged in front of her house with my 6-year-old outside, which was a little bit scary, but the police are responsive, the police presence I think is good.”
“The issue is the proliferation of guns on our streets and how we work to get guns out of the hands of people where they don't belong,” said Ward 5 Councilmember Kenyan McDuffie.
To do that, the city needs manpower, but there is shortage. The police force is dwindling and shifting.
“But we do have some specialized units that we can repurpose, so to speak, to go into areas that we're trying to particularly create a sense of prevention,” said D.C. Police Chief Cathy Lanier.
Amid an increase in violent crime, specifically homicides, more than 100 police openings exist and there could be more.
“Over the last 19 months, we've lost 554 people,” said D.C. Police Union Treasurer Greggory Pemberton. “Only about half of that is due to retirements. The other half of that is due to the attrition rate. Some of those are termination, but a large number of those are people who are leaving the department for other agencies.”
“It's a really bad problem for manpower,” said Pemberton. “The biggest thing we're seeing is we're understaffed and we're overworked, and with the amount of crime that's going on right now, we don't have the manpower to address the calls for service.”
A D.C. police spokesperson said the department does not believe attrition is a factor in the crime.