D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser and D.C. Council member Charles Allen are arguing publicly over the fiscal 2023 budget proposal, particularly concerning the number of police officers on the force.
Allen, the Ward 6 Democrat who chairs the council’s Committee on Judiciary and Public Safety, had a unanimous vote to approve $1.7 billion in the public safety cluster of the budget. In a statement, he pointed out the committee approved both a funded Metropolitan Police Department and services that involve the prevention of violence.
Specifically, Allen said funds were in the budget to allow the hiring of an additional 347 police officers including a $14.2 million enhancement to hire 108 new officers, convert 42 cadets and keep 17 senior officers by offering a housing allowance, educational incentives such as tuition reimbursement, hiring bonuses and cadet conversion bonuses.
However, Bowser was not pleased with Allen’s committee.
“I sent to the council a package that includes the funding necessary to hire 347 officers while also retaining high-quality, experienced officers who already know the community,” the mayor said in a statement. “I want to be very clear: if we can’t do both, we will lose ground and the number of police officers will continue to dwindle. We need the money and the incentives to hire 347 officers and we need the right incentives to keep good officers. You can’t say you’re for hiring police and then cut $6 million from the MPD package.”
Bowser also criticized Allen’s committee for cutting school resource officer positions and 31 correctional officers from the budget.
Allen responded quickly to the mayor’s accusations.
“We’re two months out today from an important date in our city, so it’s an obvious chance to try to gin up conflict where there is none,” he said. “I prefer seeking common ground and keeping politics out of policy.”
Allen said his committee fully funds the new officers and offered incentives that are the best in the Washington region. He said Bowser is upset a program that allows officers to take patrol cars home isn’t in the budget.
Allen said the money for the take-home patrol cars went to programs for crime victims, survivors of domestic and sexual violence, and relief for victims of gun violence.
Noting that the first budget vote before the council takes place on May 10, Allen said his committee’s actions were solid.
“The council is not the mayor’s rubber stamp, and to describe the committee’s support and dramatic expansion of these initiatives as a cut isn’t a serious response,” the council member said. “The city needs leaders to stop pointing fingers and instead get to work.”