In response to a request for $11 million for additional funding for police officers from Mayor Bowser, D.C. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson and Councilmember Charles Allen, Chair of the Council’s Committee on the Judiciary and Public Safety, are proposing a compromise package of investments, with support from a majority of the Council.
The package was circulated today by Chairman Mendelson in an Amendment in the Nature of a Substitute (ANS) to the budget legislation to be considered at tomorrow’s final vote.
The changes would revise the Executive’s requested $11 million enhancement for sworn police officers to instead reduce gun violence by investing in both traditional law enforcement and public-health based programs. The proposal would provide the Metropolitan Police Department $5 million in funding for additional sworn officers to reduce overtime pressures and maintain the Department’s hiring pipeline, but it would also double the Office of Neighborhood Safety and Engagement’s (ONSE) Leadership Academies – which provide wrap-around services, mentorship, and restorative practices to high-risk students within District high schools – add an additional $1.9 million for violence interrupters through ONSE, and fund four new Cure the Streets violence interruption sites through the Office of the Attorney General.
Chairman Mendelson said, “Council members support a combination of strategies to reduce violent crime. The solution can’t solely be more police. If you think about it, relying only on police is a reactive strategy. Police respond to incidents of violence. On the other side, violence interrupters are proactive. Interrupters work in the neighborhoods, know the people most likely to beef, and calm tensions before retaliatory shootings can occur.”
“The Council’s proposal here is responsible and responsive. We are ensuring investments in public safety are going directly into communities where gun violence is happening the most,” said Councilmember Allen. “Law enforcement and public health-based approaches are both critical to reducing gun violence. It might be the easiest path, but now’s not the time to fall back on police-only responses when we know a more well-rounded approach will have better immediate and long-term results in stopping the next shooter.”
The D.C. Council will vote on the ANS tomorrow during the Council’s Legislative Meeting, scheduled to begin at 1 pm.
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As you mention, police have to be part of the solution and it’s not just about officers on the streets. When crime happens, especially an increasing amount, you need more police time to investigate and solve them so people see consequences and restorative justice can happen. Do you know how low the murder solve rate is in the city or the solve rate on other crimes? It is currently very low, and that is the other negative impact from increased crime and fewer officers.
Also one of the main tenets of Building Blocks DC talks about connecting residents with high paying jobs. However, the ability to attract employers and grow the local economy can also be directly connected to public safety. These jobs don’t grow on trees, and you have to make the city an attractive destination for employers/employees. We have seen a loss in district population that may continue due to higher crime. This can become a vicious spiral as the tax base erodes, and then services get cut in conjunction with tax increases.