D.C. mayor’s budget proposal goes strong on public safety

WASHINGTON — D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser gave the City Council its first look at her $13.4 billion budget proposal for 2017, which emphasizes public safety, drawing support from the the city’s police and fire chief.

“I think this is the biggest bump in a budget since I’ve been the chief,” police chief Cathy Lanier said, after Bowser briefed lawmakers and the media on her fiscal 2017 proposal.

Bowser said investment in public safety will be wide-ranging.

“We’ve fully funded our body camera program,” said Bowser. “We made the order for the body cameras last year — we have the monies we will need for FOIA requests and redactions — so we have what we need.”

Lanier says 650 officer-worn body cameras were paid for with last year’s budget, “so they’re all coming in in bundles.”

Bowser’s budget proposal will pay for the the costs associated with implementing the body camera program, says Lanier, including “cloud support funding, the programs that maintain our ability to track and move digital evidence.”

In addition to money being allocated specifically for her department, Lanier says other Bowser investments will help MPD.

“Money going to the forensic laboratory, that helps me. There’s money going into the Emergency Medical Services, that helps me,” said Lanier.

D.C. Fire and EMS chief Gregory Dean says Bowser’s budget proposal will keep more ambulances on the street, by utilizing $12 million for third-party ambulance providers to supplement the District’s aging fleet.

“It’ll start this coming Monday, the 28th,” said Dean, after the Mayor’s briefings.

The arrangement with American Medical Response would be funded through 2017, to keep approximately 30 ambulances in service.

“We’ve heard stories of ambulances breaking down,” said Dean. “Bringing AMR will allow us to concentrate on our preventative maintenance of those vehicles, whether they’re new or old, to make sure they’re ready to respond.”

Bowser’s investment would pay for approximately 30 new vehicles, including engines, trucks, ambulances, and command vehicles.

In addition, Bowser’s budget would provide an additional $2.5 million to hire and train 30 additional 911 call takers.

Neal Augenstein

Neal Augenstein has been a general assignment reporter with WTOP since 1997. He says he looks forward to coming to work every day, even though that means waking up at 3:30 a.m.

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