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Mayor Gray and MPD Chief Cathy Lanier Calls for More Resources Due to DC’s “economic development and population growth”

by Prince Of Petworth — December 18, 2012 at 11:00 am 28 Comments

Photo by PoPville flickr user philliefan99

From the Mayor’s Office:

I agree with Chief Lanier that as our city grows we must make further investments in public safety. I’ve recently proposed adding 100 officers to the ranks of the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) to give the Chief the ability to deploy additional officers into our communities on foot, bike, and Segway – especially in neighborhoods that are growing rapidly. I strongly believe that adding these additional officers is critical to keeping our residents and visitors safe, and I’m deeply disappointed that the Council is considering opposing this plan. I urge the Council to reject this ill-advised and short-sighted maneuver, and join with me in working to make our city the safest it can be.

Mayor Vincent C. Gray

Attached is a letter from MPD Chief Lanier advocating for increased resources.

December 17, 2012

The Honorable Phil Mendelson, Chairman
Council of the District of Columbia

1350 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20004

Dear Chairman Mendelson:

As we are about to embark on another year, I am reminded that we must be prepared to face the critical challenges that will soon be upon us. Like many other urban areas, Washington, D.C., is experiencing a staggering amount of economic development and population growth.

This welcome growth means more areas of shopping, restaurants, offices, and residences, all of which will require expanded police attention. We must undertake prudent planning as this development is occurring to ensure We are in the best possible position to handle those future challenges and continue to provide the high quality police service the community has come to expect from us.

During the past year, we have conducted a comprehensive analysis of ongoing development throughout the city. The historical lessons We have learned from areas such as Chinatown and Columbia Heights suggest that several other areas of development will experience an upward trajectory in Workload – both calls for service and crime. Capitol Riverfront and NoMA have both experienced incredible growth, yet continued plans suggest they are merely in the early to mid-stages of development. Several other areas – including the H Street corridor, U Street and 14th Street NW, CityCenterDC, DuPont Circle, Adams Morgan, and the St. Elizabeth’s campus, to name a few – are undergoing substantial amounts of new or continued development. All of these areas will have a significant impact on police services. Our analysis has made it clear that due to the dense development, the areas will demand a different type of police deployment- more foot, bike, and Segway patrols, which are not able to cover as large of an area.

To highlight the real impact of the city’s rapid economic development, I share with you one example of what We have learned. We have determined that when a new bar opens, city blocks with 10 or more ABRA establishments require four times the additional manpower than blocks with one to nine bars. There are 17 city blocks that currently have 10 or more ABRA locations. More notably, there are 10 additional city blocks that are within one or two new bars of reaching the 10-bar tipping point. The fact is Washington is no longer merely a day-working, commuter city. It is a 24/7 city filled with a thriving and growing nightlife.

Continues after the jump.

These future demands on personnel are further underscored by the approaching retirement “bubble”. MPD has been Warning of the increase in members eligible for retirement for several years. It began to hit in fiscal year 2012, when attrition rose from a 5-year average of 175 members, to 204 separations. This year We will likely experience an additional 250 separations. While We are funded to be able to hire to keep pace with attrition, this obviously does not account for the increased demand that commercial and residential development will soon place on the Department.

Ultimately, the equation for properly preparing for the future is simple: more officers safer streets more development a city that continues to grow. The city learned this lesson the hard way in the 1990s when unacceptable crime levels led a large number of residents and businesses, and therefore the tax base, to depart the city. In contrast, the last several years have seen historic reductions in crime. The city is no longer the “Murder Capital of the World”, but rather it is viewed as a great home for both businesses and residents, and a destination for almost 18 million tourists a year. Continued planning will make us a fully-equipped, flexible, and modern police department that can face the many challenges that lie ahead. And while we welcome civilian employees and recognize their contributions, the expanding demands on police services require more sworn members who can patrol the rapidly growing areas of the city.

Yes, there is a cost to these preparations, which is especially difficult in this day of constricted budgets and competing priorities, but the benefits are invaluable and the long-term cost of crime is not one we can afford to bear.


Cathy L. Lanier
Chief of Police

  • anon

    this seems like a good thing, but i wish they would lose the Segways. At something like $5000 a pop it seems like a waste… continuing with bikes seems OK though. would be interested in any data that would suggest that these things really do help officers (beyond the “they move officers faster so they can cover more area” argument)

    • ksk

      I’m open to arguments about their effectiveness in policing, but I’ve always thought the Segways were a little ridiculous, not to mention expensive. And I’ve always felt a little sorry for the officers assigned to them; more than a few times, I’ve seen groups of teen (and adult) bystanders pointing and laughing at the Segways. It’s got to be hard enough to project an air of authority and command respect as a police officer…it can’t help to have people mocking your mode of transport left and right.

  • Anonymous

    “We have determined that when a new bar opens, city blocks with 10 or more ABRA establishments require four times the additional manpower than blocks with one to nine bars. There are 17 city blocks that currently have 10 or more ABRA locations. ”

    I like Lanier, especially because she doesn’t try to take credit for the drop in the murder rate. But she should not try to pass it off as a radical statistical insight that Adams Morgan, U Street and H Street (That’s about 17 blocks chock full of booze) take four times the police resources as all other city blocks on a Saturday night. I coulda told her that without breaking out a spreadsheet.

    Crap like this makes me want them to get LESS money, because it is clearly just crap they say to get more money.

    • anon

      there’s a big difference between your guesswork analysis and data that helps inform policies now and into the future. I bet you wouldn’t have been able to come up with this statistic that 10 ABRA establishments represents a tipping point for police resources. thoughtful analysis like this helps allocate resources more efficiently.

      • Anon

        This. Anyone who thinks rigorous data-driven analysis isn’t a part of high-quality governance (including policing a rapidly growing city) has absolutely no clue what they’re talking about.

    • Yeah, we should definitely slash the budgets of any city departments who do precise numerical and statistical analysis instead of using “man-on-the-street guestimation” methods.

  • Lose the segways. I NEVER see cops on foot patrol in DC and I’ve been living here since 2003 (Columbia Heights and now U street area).

    • Anonymous

      I think cops on foot patrol would be a very positive development for the city.

  • Can we also change the way we handle the people arrested for violent crimes? Until we prosecute the punks more cops won’t solve the problem.

  • Up shur

    I’m against funding new cops until MPD shows it can effectively manage its current officers. Articles over the past few years state that all arrests are made by 10% of MPD’s officers. If 90% aren’t performing effectively, the answer isn’t to add more cops, it’s to better manage the cops you have.

    • Anonymous

      This would be difficult to evaluate. A cop assigned to a beat on H St or U St is going to have a lot more activity than one assigned to Spring Valley, not all police are working jobs that would lead them to make arrests, etc.

  • Anonymous

    Why seek additional officers rather than redeploy the large police force MPD already has?

    There have been significant declines in violent crime and property crime in DC and the region.

    DC has more police officers per resident than any other city in the country. By far. 65.6 officers per 10,000 residents.

    That’s 40 PERCENT more than the city with the next-highest percentage.

    Newark, NJ, has 46.7, Baltimore 46.3, Chicago 44.2, Philadelphia 43.2, New York 41.8, New Orleans 40.8, and St. Louis has 38.4 officers per 10,000 residents. DC has more cops than Dallas, which has more than double DC’s population.

    These data are from an article in Governing Magazine from earlier this year that draws on FBI UCR data.

    The statement says,

    the expanding demands on police services require more sworn members who can patrol the rapidly growing areas of the city.

    Really? If crime is declining, why can’t we reassign the large numbers of officers we have to the places they are most needed?

    • dat

      DC is unique because of the extensive government presence. I bet if you looked at the officer:resident ratio in residential areas of the city, your numbers would be way off

      • And the federal government provides for the protection of its infrastructure and people.

        You have the capitol hill police, 1800 police officers in charge of patrolling 200 blocks of capital hill.

        The Federal Protective Service, a policing arm of Homeland Security who again patrols enormous swaths of the District, with its 200 armed-to-the-teeth- officers in DC, entirely responsible for federal buildings and personnel

        You have 200 US Park Police who have concurrent jurisdiction all over the metro area and are responsible for everything on the US Mall (again downtown), BW and GW, RCP parkways etc.

        The DC Housing Authority has its own 70 officers whose sole job is to patrol the areas around DC Public housing.

        The DC Public Libray System has 22 officers who have a responsibility to patrol the city libraries.

        I mean really now…MPD doesn’t have responsibility for 1/3rd of the business district downtown, none of the parkland and a few of its roads,

        They don’t have responsibility for any federal assets or infrastructure, none of the DC public housing, libraries or the 2nd largest transportation system in the US. All they have to focus on are the residential areas.

        Lastly, if you were right, we would see some sort of anomaly in the crime numbers for a ~100 block chunk of downtown where the federal government and it’s downtown workers are located, but it simply isn’t the case. The stretch of DC from the Cap building to the Washinton monument that houses all the Federal agencies has probably the lowest crime in DC.

    • I’ve always kinda thought DC was overpoliced, and figured it was a prgrammatic holdover from the 80’s and early 90’s when the crack epidemic took over DC and it was the murder capital of the free world.

      Not the case now, and while MPD’s numbers fluctuate between 4000 and 4500 officers, they have maintained a higher per capita coverage than any other city in the United States, including NYC, SF, LA, Chicago etc.

      MPD doesn’t even have to police the metro (although they should) we have a crack team (sarcasam abounds!) of 526 armed metro police officers who have mastered never being anywhere in the system at any time of hte day…I digress.

      I’ve thought for years that DC had way more officers than they needed. How do you justify their current numbers in comparison to larger, more crime ridden places?

      MPD doesn’t have to patrol capitol hill. We have 1800 member strong capitol police force that has concurrent jurisdiction over 200 blocks of NW/NE the city.

      A simple reallocation of their existing force seems more than appropriate. And I am not saying you should leave places like cleveland park unpoliced, but it seems a little overkill to see 3 police segways parked outside that frozen yogurt place while three cops sit inside

      • This is even more mind-boggling when you consider that each government agency has its own police force to patrol their premises and guard their buildings. FBI Police, Federal Reserve Police, Secret Service Police, National Parks Police, Homeland Security Police, etc.

        MPD doesn’t even need to provide security for the federal government! Even the Presidential motorcade is escorted by the Secret Service police, rather than the MPD. Crazy.

        • queenedix

          My favorite police force is the “DC Library Police.” I spotted a DC Library police car parked near U street a few years ago–I may have even sent it in to PoP at the time.

          To correct one point you made–DC police are actually required for all motorcades and many diplomatic caravans, as well as first responders/EMTs. Police stop traffic along the routes, close surrounding areas, and patrol on foot. Even Marine One taking off and landing requires pretty substantial local support.

          • Anonymous

            my favorite is still “Secret Service – Uniformed Division”

      • Tangent: Yeah, it seems I observe Guardian Angels far more often than WMATA police… It’s kind of super sad that we have to have a civilian police force because our own cops can’t get it together.

  • Anonymous

    I would be opposed to increasing the police force as well if the chief of police showed me declining crime rates. Advances in technology and continued economic development will be the key in crime prevention, not bozos sitting in parked cars or wandering the street waiting for shit to happen.

    It may sound scary, but high crime areas should be monitored with police cameras. The cameras will deter crime, enable quicker responses when it happens, and provide evidence that will lead to more convictions. Speed cameras a perfect example. Will anyone speed when they know they will get an ticket?

    • Anonymous

      To answer your question: yes, people will speed, but not right in front of the speed cameras, if they know where they are.

    • I have no problem with this approach but my sense is that this is the exact opposite of what the general populace wants. Seems to me most people want less “technology” (I think that means “cameras”) and more officers out and about.

      • Yeah the cameras are a waste of money. Kids just throw rocks at them until they break, and no one ever comes to fix them.

  • steveg202

    Furthering the redeployment issue, I read in CitiPaper that DC traffic cameras were far more effective than traffic cops. By a factor of more than 20x+. Thus, couldn’t we take many (not all) of these cops and add them to crime patrols?

    Further, would I be wrong to surmise that as DC gentrifies violent crime rates fall?

    • bfinpetworth

      Seems to me that’s because DC cops do nearly zero traffic enforcement. When I’m driving outside the District I have to remind myself that there are traffic rules that I have to adhere to, rather than the wild west driving environment within DC. Especially u-turns – I’ve become addicted to them in the district and find myself fighting temptation outside the district.

      • Yeah, I’ve seen more (illegal) u-turns in DC than anywhere else I’ve lived.

  • Is Lanier using the royal “We”? I like it.

  • Anonymous

    To what extent are the developers who are adding new neighborhoods to DC. such as NoMa and Capitol Waterfront, contributing to the solution? They are diluting existing enforcement, so are they contributing to city revenue, or just pushing for the biggest tax breaks possible, while the city tries to make up the revenue via automated commuter harrassment?


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