The mayor of Washington DC has announced a plan to add 170 police officers to the city's force amid rising violent crime.
Muriel Bowser, a Democrat, said on Wednesday that she has requested an additional $11 million from the City Council to pay for the hiring and training of 20 additional officers in the 2021 financial year, and 150 additional officers in 2022.
The Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) normally hires 250 officers each year, but last year the DC Council decided to defund the police to the tune of $15 million - to the disapproval of the mayor.
She said that, amid rising crime, she told the MPD to make officers work overtime - but said that more needed to be done in the long term.
'Right now, I have directed MPD to use any overtime necessary to meet our public safety demands,' said Bowser, in a statement issued on Wednesday.
Muriel Bowser, the mayor of Washington DC, is seeking to increase the police force by 170 officers, she announced on Wednesday
We are investing in public health and social service approaches to change outcomes
We also need to ensure the Chief of Police has the officers he needs to keep our neighborhoods safe
I proposed hiring more officers & cadets in the budget before the Council now#saferstrongerDC pic.twitter.com/UuzUUkFVYA— Muriel Bowser (@MurielBowser) July 26, 2021
With U.S. Capitol seen in the background, a member of the Washington Metropolitan Police Department guards the scene of a shooting outside the Nationals Park on July 17
'But we know that is not a complete solution or the right long-term solution.
'We also know we need all of our officers to be fresh, rested, and in the best position to make good decisions – and that requires having a full force to meet all of our community's needs.
'The department is in a good position to make additional hires and move swiftly to close the gap between attrition and hiring, and that's what this plan is going to help us do.'
Bowser said that the additional $11 million is to be spent on recruitment and training of new officers, plus allowing retired senior police officers to return to the force without penalty to their retirement.
Bowser has strongly supported Black Lives Matter, but like President Joe Biden has opposed defunding the police.
'I am concerned about the shrinking numbers, and it has been a hallmark of my tenure to get the number of police officers up,' she told Fox News.
'We have to make sure we continue to make the case with members of the council to ensure that there is funding for the number of officers we need.'
Bowser has said that the city needs more officers to cope with the rise in crime. Pictured are officers inspecting the scene of a July 22 shooting along 14th Street in the heart of the city
She said that the problem last year was that her budget was not approved, so they could not hire more officers.
Bowser said that the communities most affected by spiraling crime in DC were demanding an increased police presence.
The city has this month seen a wave of high-profile incidents.
On July 16 a six-year-old girl was shot and killed in a drive-by shooting in the Congress Heights district of the capital.
Nyiah Courtney's parents were both wounded, along with three others. Police said her father is a suspected member of a local drug gang and may have been targeted. A suspect in the shooting, Marktwan Hargraves, 22, was arrested on Wednesday and charged with murder.
Six-year-old Nyiah Courtney was shot and killed on July 16 in a drive-by shooting in Congress Heights, in the south of the city. On Wednesday police announced the arrest of Marktwan Hargraves, who has been charged with her murder
A memorial for Nyiah Courtney is seen in Washington DC, where she was shot on July 16
On July 17, a baseball game between the Washington Nationals and the San Diego Padres had to be suspended after a shooting just outside the stadium, which saw one bystander caught in the crossfire and injured.
And on July 22, two men opened fire on diners outside a restaurant in the bustling Logan Circle district, wounding two.
Across the District, homicides reached a 16-year high in 2020, and are staying apace this year.
Fans rush to evacuate after hearing gunfire, during a baseball game between the San Diego Padres and the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park on July 17
There were 198 shootings in 2020 - an increase of 19 per cent on the previous year. This year is on track to surpass that, with homicides up four per cent, year on year.
'This is something that we've been warning about for years,' said Robert Contee, DC Police Chief, when asked about the lack of resources he has to fight crime.
'We don't really have the ability to hire officers right now.
'We have a defined amount of resources to deal with a very large city that continues to grow.'