Police shortage concerns in the District
Outrageous acts of violent crime on the streets of D.C. have some wondering: where are the police? Police sources say since January of last year, the Metropolitan Police Department has lost almost 500 police officers.
Union leaders for police say one contributing factor is the public scrutiny officers face in dealing with tense, high-pressured situations.
Delroy Burton, chairman of the D.C. Police Union, told us there is a connection between the staffing shortage they are facing and the crime that is happening on the street.
Add to that are the videos showing officers in confrontational situations and the aftermath of their actions. It is enough to make many cops look for another line of work.
"Nobody wants to be the next guy that is the national story -- whether you are right, wrong or indifferent," said Burton.
He said the District is facing a big problem. There is a need for officers in a day and age where video can make or break an officer's career even if he or she is following protocol.
"I don't think right now policing is attractive to a lot of people because they don't want to deal with all the pressure and stress that come with the job and the additional scrutiny," Burton said.
Burton said that leads to an extremely cautious approach to performing job duties.
"If you call, they will come, but they won't actively seek out traffic enforcement," he said.
Recently, a man walking down 5th Street in Northwest D.C. was attacked and robbed by a group of people during the early morning hours last Sunday.
On May 30, two men were attacked and robbed in the 1400 block of Pennsylvania Avenue in Southeast D.C. The assailants took off on foot.
Police are still looking for suspects in both cases.
We asked D.C. resident Mary Carter if she felt safe in her neighborhood.
"Not really," said Carter. "They are not doing that much of a good job.
She has lived in her D.C. neighborhood for 65 years. It is not far from where the assault happened on Pennsylvania Avenue.
She worries about crime happening behind her house and whether there are enough officers on the street to look out for her.
"There must not be because they are not in that alley [near my home]," Carter said. "I don't ever see them out there unless I call."
She has seen it all with the ups and downs with policing her community over the years. She hopes for the days when police drive by to check out the alley near her home and it doesn't require a phone call to do so.