D.C. Council member Vincent C. Gray introduced a bill Wednesday to increase the number of police officers in the Metropolitan Police Department.
The Police Officer Recruitment and Retention Act of 2023 is designed to address the steep decline in the number of sworn MPD officers in the District. Currently, the MPD employs 3,386 sworn officers, down from 4,010 in 2013.
Gray noted the decrease of almost 500 officers since 2018 has coincided with an increase in homicide levels not seen in two decades.
“In the District today, we have fewer police officers than at any moment in the past 20 years,” the Ward 7 Democrat said. “At the same time, we are experiencing a 20-year high in homicides. Tragic and brazen crimes are in the headlines nearly every day. Schoolchildren are robbed at gunpoint. Our roads are increasingly dangerous. Sadly, the list goes on.
“After a horrendous crime or crime spree, we hear residents call for more police,” he said. “The frustrating reality is that there are no more police. When we assign a patrol to a neighborhood, Metro station, or anywhere else, we are taking that resource away from a different location.”
Gray said when he served as mayor from 2011-2015, the police force had over 4,000 officers.
Gray’s bill will authorize the mayor to provide bonuses equal to one year’s salary to police officers who are eligible for retirement, provided those officers delay retiring by five years; restore collective bargaining rights, and undo changes in workplace practices imposed by the D.C. Council that have made the MPD a less attractive employer to potential officers; and authorize the mayor to fund any negotiated recruitment and retention incentives for sworn officers.
“Our goal should be to have the best police department in the country,” he said. “We must create conditions that reward high-quality officers and attract the finest recruits.”