DC police dealing with staffing shortage

- The Metropolitan Police Department is dealing with a staffing shortage. According to D.C. police, the latest number of sworn officers on the force is 3,797.

D.C. Police Chief Cathy Lanier said four years ago that if her department ever dropped below 3,800 officers, she stated, "We're going to have trouble.”

But according to the police union, the number is actually 3,610 officers, which includes 157 academy recruits and more than 400 officers not assigned to the streets.

D.C. police say they do not discuss personnel matters. But the police union cited that a total of 64 officers left the force last month.

Ward 6, particularly in the Capitol Hill and Navy Yard areas, has been hit hard with violent crime in recent days. We spoke with Ward 6 Councilmember Charles Allen about the police staffing deficit.

“What I'm concerned about though is how thin do we stretch that line?” Allen told FOX 5. “We can do overtime, we can pull big shifts, but it does start to take a toll and that's something that we should all be concerned about.”

We also asked the councilmember if he is satisfied with the mayor and the police chief.

“I’ve had a great response from the chief,” he said. “When I’ve asked for more resources, she has put it in Ward 6.”

FOX 5 reached out to Mayor Muriel Bowser’s spokespeople to make them aware of our request for a response about this shortage and waited outside her office for two hours, but we were dodged by the mayor.

Later Tuesday evening, we were finally able to catch up with Mayor Bowser attending a public event at the National Portrait Gallery.

Marraco: “3,800 is a number that Chief Lanier once said if the MPD force ever dropped below that, we would be in trouble. We are now under 3,800. Your response?”

Bowser: “Well, we're hiring officers.”

Marraco: “So you don't think that's a troublesome number that [Lanier] once called?”

Bowser: “I think when we got into office, we knew that we had to hire more officers. And we had to put in, replace recruitment and retention policies, which we have.”

Marraco: “Is there a correlation between the number of officers that are down and the spike in crime in the District?”

Bowser: “I think that what we have seen in a lot of other cities in terms of increases in violent crime, I would defer to the police chief to give you an exact number.

Marraco: “It was 3,797. It's three down, according to that count. However, the union says it's 3,600.”

Bowser: “Again, I would refer to the police chief. She will have the accurate numbers.”

We did reach out to Chief Lanier, and although we did receive a response, she did not address the questions regarding the officer deficit.

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