Police Force Lacks 300 Officers amid Rising Homicides; Poor Recruiting, Retention Cited
Byline: David C. Lipscomb, THE WASHINGTON TIMES
The Metropolitan Police Department remains roughly 300 officers short of its authorized strength more than a year after the D.C. Council provided funding for additional positions, officials said yesterday.
The shortfall comes amid criticism from some lawmakers and residents who want to see more officers on patrol, as the city's 171 homicides already have surpassed last year's total.
"We want more officers on the street," said council member Jack Evans, Ward 2 Democrat. "Deployment is the key here because we just aren't seeing the numbers out there like we want."
In response to a spike in crime last summer, council members increased the department's sworn strength from 3,800 to 4,200.
Police spokeswoman Traci Hughes said the department currently has 3,914 officers and plans to increase that to 4,050 by the end of the fiscal year next September. She said the projected number of new officers is based on hiring trends and attrition rates.
Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier said yesterday she will not compromise recruiting standards to speed up hiring.
"We will not sacrifice quality to increase quantity," she said at a police oversight hearing before the D.C. Council.
Kristopher Baumann, chairman of the labor union that represents the city's police officers, said many of the department's problems with fighting crime are due to poor recruiting and retention of officers. …