It seems like it was only a couple of years ago when Washington, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser was outside helping protesters paint huge Black Lives Matter logos on the streets of her city and talking about the need to defund and “reform” the police. Oh, that’s right. I really was only two years ago in 2020. But the times they are a’ changing, as the song lyrics have informed us. The 2022 version of Bowser seems to have adopted a new attitude as crime rates continue to rise in Washington as they have in so many other cities and she’s been getting an earful about it from her constituents. This year, Bowser is looking to refund the police and reach a force level of 4,000 uniformed officers over the next decade. Welcome to the party, pal. (Washington Examiner)
Mayor Muriel Bowser unveiled her $30 million plan to expand the Metropolitan Police Department and reach 4,000 sworn officers in a press conference on Monday, her latest effort to tackle the district’s rising crime rates before the mayoral Democratic primary in June when she is up for reelection.
“This budget does what D.C. residents all over our city are asking me to do: get our Metropolitan Police Department fully staffed and resourced with the officers they need to keep our community safe,” Bowser said. “As we get back to 4,000 officers, we’re focused on hiring D.C. residents to be D.C. police, and we’re also focused on hiring more female officers … This investment in MPD is going to help us build a safer, stronger D.C.”
Bowser’s plan would increase the police budget to hire 347 more officers over the next year through new recruits, graduating cadets, and returning retired officers. But when taking retirements and attrition into account, officials expect the actual net gain to be only about three dozen.
So what brought about this change of heart? If you read the excerpt above carefully, you probably found a clue. It’s an election year and there are more races going on than just the congressional midterms. Bowser herself is up for reelection, with the primary for that race only a little more than two months away. And she’s already drawing challengers. So, in the words of the immortal political philosopher William J. Le Petomane, she needs to find a way to get the crime rates down if she wants to save her phony-baloney job.
Bowser admitted during her remarks that refunding the police is “what D.C. residents all over our city are asking me to do.” Pay particular attention to the way she personalized the statement. Voters are letting her know directly and personally. And she wants them to know that she’s listening and taking action, no matter what positions she was espousing only 24 months earlier. Oh, and please, please, pretty please vote for me in June.
Also worth noting is the fact that seven members of the City Council came out in support of the Mayor’s proposal immediately. And those are the same people who voted to slash the police budget two years ago. They have elections coming up also. Are you noting a pattern here yet?
But the MPD may not be able to grow at the desired rate no matter how much money Bowser throws at them. They’ve been having trouble finding enough qualified recruits for the positions they could afford under the current, reduced budget. Some potential candidates won’t enter training programs because of the vaccine mandate. Others seem to be aware of how the MPD officers were treated previously and have no interest in going through the same experience. Other qualified officers have already moved out of the region, with many going to more rural, conservative areas with fewer gang issues and more respect being shown to them by the public.
Let’s give Muriel Bowser at least some credit for arriving at the correct position and beginning to try to fix things, no matter her incentive to do so. We’re already seeing this in other cities as well, including New York. Most of these politicians are at least bright enough to read their own polling numbers and those numbers don’t look good at the moment.