D.C. Police Chief Cathy Lanier ordered some detectives be redeployed to street duty, instead of working on their cases.
The detectives, who are currently assigned to district stations, will be sent to patrol streets in an effort to deter crime for one week per month starting Sept. 14, according to a department-wide email sent by Lanier Tuesday night.
"It gives us additional officers on the ground where they are needed most," Deputy Mayor Paul Quander said.
D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray joined Quander in defending Lanier's order.
"Her ability to respond to a changing set of circumstances clearly has had profoundly positive results for the people of D.C.," Gray said.
A spokesperson for the department told News4 this is an "updating" of a patrol initiative that has been in place for the past nine years, since Charles Ramsey was chief of police.
The head of the department's union said the order was unexpected and that many of the detectives subject to the order are already working in units affected by a manpower shortage.
The change does not affect detectives working in the homicide unit and will last until January 2016.
The detectives that will be affected by the change work on cases like sex assaults, burglaries, street robberies and car thefts. According to the union, some detectives who work on child abuse cases will also be reassigned.
"With sex assaults being up 50 percent, I find it irresponsible the deputy mayor would come up with a plan like this," said Delroy Burton, chairman of the D.C. police union.
He asked Lanier to reconsider Wednesday.
"I got the impression from the chief she will be open to rescind that teletype and take a fresh look at which units should be redeployed and which should be exempt," Burton said.
A spokesperson for Lanier said the order won't be rescinded, but the chief will issue a new order Friday clarifying that some officers and detectives will be exempt from redeployment on a case-by-case basis.