DC police chief says she is behind mayor's new plan to boost shrinking police force

D.C. Police Chief Cathy Lanier tells FOX 5 that she is behind D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser's plan to ask the D.C. Council for more money to bolster a shrinking police force. Those funds would go toward increased salaries for officers the police chief would like to retain.

Mayor Bowser and her staff have come up with some new strategies to include hiring more officers from other police departments.

For many years, the police department has been able to retain officers eligible to retire by bringing them back to the force as senior police officers. They can collect their pensions and stay on the job for an annual salary of $68,000. It is a pay scale that is typically less than what they were making.

In order to sweeten the pot, the mayor wants to now offer these senior officers salaries that range from $68,000 to $166,000 - or what an assistant chief now makes on the force.

"The problem is and what we are trying to add to that legislation is you know you have sergeants and lieutenants for example who are more senior and are retiring at higher rates, all the way up through the ranks, so every time I have sergeants and lieutenants retire I have to promote to fill those ranks, that means less officers on the street, so in order to stop pulling officers from off the street we want to make the same offer available to every rank," Chief Cathy Lanier said.

Lanier also explains that 60% of her command staff, captain and above are eligible to retire now. In order to bridge the gap of attrition, she wants the ability to offer higher pay for the next two to three years.

"If you retire as a sergeant and we bring you back under the senior police officer provision you would collect your retirement and would make about what a mid-scale sergeant makes and it applies to each rank," Lanier explained.

According to Kevin Donahue, the District's Deputy Mayor for Public Safety and Justice, the force currently stands at 3,750 officers. Mayor Bowser would like to bolster those numbers with lateral hires - experienced officers already working at other departments who would like to come to the District for a starting salary of just over $53,000.

"We've changed our program now so we can hire from other jurisdictions in that eleven week program because there are not a lot of laterals who come from inside the district so they have to learn the D.C. laws and the D.C. code," said Lanier. "But it's a much shorter academy, a lot of veteran officers don't want to go through a six month academy,"

Chief Lanier says she has also been able to move about a 100 officers back to the streets after the Mayor provided enough money to hire civilians.