Mayor Vincent C. Gray (D) said Wednesday he plans to hire 300 additional police officers over the next the year to bring the District’s force up to at least 3,900 officers.
Speaking to council members during a breakfast meeting, Gray said Police Chief Cathy Lanier has found money in the agency’s budget to make additional hires to increase the size of the force even as the city loses about 15 officers per month due to retirements. The city currently has a force of about 3,800 officers.
“We will get up to 3,900,” Gray said.
In recent months, police officials and some community activists have expressed alarm over the city’s shrinking police force amid budget reductions.
Under the fiscal year 2012 budget as it was approved this summer, the number of officers was projected to drop to 3,700 by the end of the next year – 100 fewer than Lanier has said the city needs.
“Once we go below 3,800, we’re going to have trouble,” Lanier was quoted as saying in March.
Gray made his announcement on the same day he discussed law-enforcement issues with New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg (I). After the meeting in Gray’s office, he praised Bloomberg for the dramatic reduction in New York’s homicide rate.
“We talked a lot about public safety,” Gray said. “I commend the mayor for the tremendous progress. If you think about it, 8.4 million people and 525 homicides, per capita, it’s phenomenal and I hope we can get to that point at some stage.”
Bloomberg, in turn, said Gray is “doing a very good job” as mayor and is “trying to make a difference,”
“He faces the same problems that New York has,” Bloomberg said. “We all have services that we want to be providing and economics that are difficult, and we are all going to have to struggle and find ways to do things better.”