(Washington, DC) The US Department of Justice recently announced that they have awarded the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) $3,125,000 through the Department’s Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) Hiring Program. This award provides direct funding to MPD to hire 25 additional officers in Fiscal Year 2022.
“I committed to throwing every resource necessary at reducing violent crime. This funding brings us closer towards the original $11 million I proposed over the summer to strengthen our police force,” said Mayor Bowser. “The safety of all District residents remains my number one priority and that means making sure MPD has the staff and talent it needs to protect our communities.”
Due to attrition and a DC Council imposed hiring freeze in 2020, MPD currently has approximately 3,550 officers – the lowest in more than two decades. This summer, Mayor Bowser sent an $11 million emergency appropriation request to the Council to allow for the hiring and training of 20 additional officers in FY21 and 150 additional officers in FY22. The Council, instead, only funded $5 million to support only half the number of officers called for in the Mayor’s plan. Despite Council resistance, Mayor Bowser persisted in identifying additional resources to expand the police department’s capacity, resulting in this grant award. Over the past two years, the residents and the police department have faced critical challenges to health and safety from the global pandemic, and the rising tide of gun violence. Mayor Bowser’s priority to ensure sufficient police service to the city is for MPD to be able to hire as many officers as needed to offset the drastic drop in staffing.
“We are honored to receive this grant from the Department of Justice, which will allow us to hire more officers to ensure the safety of our residents,” said Chief of Police Robert J. Contee III. “MPD is an essential element of making our city safer, and the investments in our force are necessary to combat gun violence.”
The funding through the Hiring Program will assist MPD in stabilizing staffing so that the Department can resume sending new officers to patrol, backfilling the vacancies. With additional officers in the pipeline, MPD will have more resources to answer the increase in calls for service.
In order to combat staffing shortages, MPD is actively recruiting new officers. MPD’s new recruitment campaign is seeking to reach Millennials, Gen Z members, veterans and second degree candidates, or those who may have never considered a career in law enforcement, but have the soft skills needed to be good police officers. These skills include: empathy, conflict resolution, strong communication skills, and more. MPD wants people to see themselves through their recruitment campaign and encourage them to apply. To learn more, applicants should visit joinmpd.dc.gov.
Last month, Mayor Bowser and Chief Contee announced the relaunch of MPD’s part-time citywide High School Cadet Corps Program. The Program enrolls students who are residents of the District and are in their senior year of high school to join MPD as a part-time cadet. While completing their senior year, these cadets will work approximately 10 hours per week for MPD and earn an hourly salary of $16.91. Upon graduation, they become full time cadets, with a salary just under 35K. They will also begin their free undergraduate education at the University of the District of Columbia on their pathway to becoming MPD officers. In the wake of the retirement bubble prompted by mass hiring in the late 1980s and early 1990s, the Cadet Corps Program has become a key strategy for building and maintaining a strong pipeline of officers.
The COPS Hiring Program (CHP) is a competitive award program intended to reduce crime and advance public safety through community policing. CHP provides funds directly to law enforcement agencies to hire new or rehire additional career law enforcement officers, thereby increasing their community policing capacity and crime prevention efforts.
Since its creation in 1994, CHP has invested more than $14 billion to advance community policing, including grants awarded to more than 13,000 state, local and tribal law enforcement agencies to fund the hiring and redeployment of more than 135,000 officers. To learn more about CHP, please visit cops.usdoj.gov/chp-award. For additional information about the COPS program, please visit cops.usdoj.gov.