From a press release:
“With homicides in the District quickly approaching triple digit numbers, shootings and armed robberies skyrocketing, and gun violence raging through all quadrants of the city, immediate measures need to be taken to address this epidemic.
In January of 2015, one of Chief Lanier’s directives went into effect that all vice investigations be turned over to a centralized narcotics unit. While the district vice units continued to exist, their responsibilities dwindled. A few months later, they were ordered to operate in full uniform, thus hamstringing their ability to conduct effective operations. At the end of May 2015, vice was disbanded completely and most officers were sent back to patrol. This is when crime began to spiral out of control.
The DC Police Union believes the dismantling of the district vice units is one of the main contributors to our current inability to combat rampant gun violence. Drug dealers and gang members have taken advantage of this lack of enforcement. Officers who patrol and residents who live in or frequent some of these volatile neighborhoods will tell you that the open air drug markets are flourishing, spurring unchecked violence between the factions fighting for control over the drugs, guns, and money.
The Union is calling for the Mayor and the Chief of Police to immediately reinstate district level vice units. Chief Lanier has stated that the spike in murders is caused by drugs, high capacity firearms, and now gambling. This is exactly the type of enforcement that the vice units were tasked with and successfully suppressed until they were disbanded earlier this year. We are calling for 100 members—10 to 12 officers per district, 1 sergeant, and 1 lieutenant—to be immediately detailed to a 90 day assignment to district vice offices. This would provide a rapid response and deployment to the most affected neighborhoods, directly addressing the violence and crime that is surging right now.
Of course the question is where these officers would come from, considering the Union has been highlighting the manpower issues in the department. But the current deployment strategies being employed are nothing short of an embarrassment and are not fooling anyone. Fixed posts, light towers, pop-up canopies? This city needs proactive policing, not scarecrows on the corner. At an evening roll call in the Seventh District last week, 22 assignments were given out, 18 were fixed posts—officers ordered to stand at a location and not move from it lest they be disciplined. The Union believes that a portion of these officers can be repurposed into district vice units to begin instantaneous interdiction of violence and start apprehending the persons responsible for these crimes.
Please stand with our officers and demand that enforcement and investigation of these crimes begin immediately. We have highly trained and motivated officers who want to protect your families and our communities. Tell Mayor Bowser and Chief Lanier that you want effective policing in your neighborhood, not security guards.”