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Chief Lanier: Setting the Record Straight on Staffing

Thursday, December 3, 2015


From time to time I realize, from questions being asked from the public, that I need to reach out and set the record straight surrounding issues if interest.  I have worked the past nine years to keep you fully and accurately informed about public safety and the state of the Department. Misinformation and rumors can be alarming, so it is important to correct the record about misinformation being circulated on staffing and other matters in the Department. 

As we have been anticipating, planning for, and publicly discussing for more than six years, the Department is in the midst of a “retirement bubble.” In 1989 and 1990, the city hired more than 1,000 officers in 18 months, meaning that a significant portion of the Department is becoming eligible to retire at the same time.

Since January 2014, 764 members have separated from the Department.  More than half of those separations are the anticipated retirements. As for resignations, they have been entirely consistent with the trends over the past 15 years, during which an average of 2.2 percent of the sworn members resign every year.  In other words, the only change in attrition trends is in the number of retirements, which is a result of the large number of members becoming eligible to retire.

While the increased retirement presents a challenge, collective efforts to overcome challenges can break down barriers to innovation, allowing for greater creativity and efficiency.  This Department and the District can and will meet the challenge.  In the past two years, we have:

  • Hired  562 sworn members and increased civilian staffing by 49 new employees, to replace officers in administrative functions and return them to operations, cutting the net loss over that time period to 153 members.
  • Completed the transition of cell block operations to the Department of Corrections, not only moving MPD officers at the Central Cell Block back to operations, but also freeing up the equivalent of 12 officers from guarding arrestees at hospitals per night, exactly when our communities most need them on the street.
  • Launched a new record management system that has saved 44 minutes per arrest report and 55 minutes per incident or offense report. Over a full year, this could equal 35,000 hours for arrests, and 180,000 hours on incident and offense reporting, or the equivalent of about 110 officers on the street.

In addition, Mayor Bowser:

  • Secured funding in Fiscal Year 2016 to hire additional civilians at MPD and the Department of Forensic Services that will return approximately 75 officers to operations. 
  • Invested $2.5 million in a retention program to provide education incentives to officers at the beginning of their career and those about to retire, encouraging them to continue to serve the District.

Although the increase in homicides this year is understandably getting a lot of attention, the fact that serious crime overall is down 5 percent, including a 5 percent decrease in assaults with a dangerous weapon and a 6 percent drop in serious sex assaults, is not getting any attention. The District is substantially safer than in decades past. Between 2009 and 2014, the District’s population increased by 10 percent, while violent crime decreased by 15 percent. While any crime is one crime too many, violent crime in the District is lower than it has been since 2007.

I am proud of the work of the dedicated men and women of the Metropolitan Police Department, and grateful for the committed partners we have in the community, the District government, and the criminal justice system.  We will continue to work together to make this city safer so that it will continue to thrive.