DC Mayor Bowser announces hiring bonus increase for police recruits

As D.C. struggles to recruit new police officers to meet its quota, Mayor Muriel Bowser announced on Friday an increase in the hiring bonus for new police recruits.

The new signing bonus for recruits will start Monday, April 24, and will be paid in two installments — $15,000 for the initial signing bonus and $10,000 upon completion of the police training academy.

“The increase will make the department more competitive and support the goal of getting (the Metropolitan Police Department) back on the path to 4,000 sworn officers,” she wrote in a statement.

The city has been struggling to fill gaps in the department, especially as more emergency calls are being made and crime has remained stagnant.

As of February, the department is currently down 600 officers and its initial signing bonus of $20,000 only incentivized 97 recruits at the time. Additionally, the Office of Unified Communications, the agency that handles the city’s 911 and nonemergency calls, reported a large number of call-taker vacancies and recommended residents text them instead.

“We want officers to see the District as somewhere where they can grow their careers, where they will be supported, where they will receive high-quality training, and where they will have the equipment they need — and that is the message we are sending with our investments,” Bowser said. “We are proud to have a police department that represents and reflects our community, and we will continue our focus on growing MPD so that we have the officers we need to have a strong presence in the community, to make and close cases, and to respond quickly to emergencies.”

Chief of Police Robert Contee, in agreement with D.C. Police Union Chairman Gregg Pemberton, said that legislation passed in the last few years has created hiring challenges, such as barring officers from reviewing any body camera footage before writing a report.

“Our vision for the future of our city’s police department is to retain diverse and qualified members who only want the best for our people, and this incentive brings us one step closer to that vision coming to fruition,” Contee said. “Our officers show up to work each and every day with the goal of keeping the residents and visitors of the District of Columbia safe and out of harm’s way. The pipeline to success for our youth will only continue to grow as we bolster these incentives and show up for our kids.”

WTOP’s Megan Cloherty contributed to this report.

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Ciara Wells

Ciara Wells is a freelance digital writer/editor at WTOP. She is a recent graduate of American University where she studied journalism and Spanish. Before joining WTOP, she was the opinion team editor at a student publication and a content specialist at an HBCU in Detroit.

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