Metropolitan Police Department (DC Police / MPD)

Chief: DC Police Staffing at Its Lowest in Decades

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The Metropolitan Police Department hasn’t been this small in about 50 years, the chief said Thursday.

Chief Robert Contee has said for months he needs more officers. The department has lost hundreds since he took over just over three years ago.

It comes at a time when fear of violent crime in the city is high. Homicides are up this year over last year. And a News4 I-Team report found of 82 carjackings in 2023 as of Feb. 22, more than 80% remain unsolved.

MPD’s Carjacking Task Force has just 11 detectives – smaller than at the start of the year. The sergeant in charge of the task force said she has asked for more help that hasn’t come.

Contee said the department may not increase in size for years.

“The department has had fewer than 3,400 members since December, 430 fewer officers now than we did in 2019, and likely the lowest number of officers since at least the 1970s,” he said.

“It will take more than a decade to reach 3,800 sworn officers if we are even able to sustain even modest net gains in staffing each year,” Contee said.

There is money to hire officers and offer signing bonuses, but the Contee told the D.C. Council Thursday afternoon they’re not hitting hiring targets this year.

Councilman Charles Allen pointed out the department may need to double its hiring for the rest of the year just to meet goals and not fall farther behind.

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