The D.C. Council’s public safety committee submitted a budget plan detailing how it intends to spend more than $1.7 billion, but D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser criticized the committee Thursday, claiming it isn’t fully supporting her proposal for more police officers.
“I sent to the council a package that includes the funding necessary to hire 347 officers while also retaining high-quality, experienced officers who already know our community,” Bowser said. “If we can’t do both, we will lose ground and the number of police officers will continue to dwindle.”
According to Bowser’s office, the committee made a number of cuts to the mayor’s funding recommendations, including reducing by nearly $4 million her plan for recruitment and retention incentives for new officers.
“D.C. residents have been very clear: they don’t want another decrease in the number of officers at MPD,” Bowser said. “Residents want MPD staffed at the level it needs to keep neighborhoods safe — and we need the whole package to do that.”
The mayor’s comments drew a combative response from Ward 6 Council member Charles Allen, chairman of the public safety committee.
“We’re two months out today from an important date in our city, so it’s an obvious choice to try to gin up conflict where there is none,” Allen said in a statement, suggesting that Bowser was playing politics because she faces a primary election in June.
“I prefer seeking common ground and keeping politics out of policy,” Allen said. “The council is not the mayor’s rubber stamp.”
Allen noted that the committee’s budget plan, which now heads to the full D.C. Council for consideration, “fully funds every new officer” that Bowser asked for when she said the District should hire 347 officers. Bowser said that would help improve 911 response times and increase the presence of officers in neighborhoods across the city.
The police department’s current staffing level — about 3,500 sworn officers — is at its lowest level in two decades.