Washington Examiner

Mayor Bowser holds virtual town hall for new DC police chief search.

Mayor Bowser Seeks Input from Residents in Search for New Chief of Police

Washington, D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser is actively engaging with residents as the search for the district’s next chief of police gains momentum. This search comes in the wake of criticism faced by the mayor over new crime proposals earlier this year.

During a town hall held on Thursday, Mayor Bowser, a Democrat, discussed the steps involved in finding a suitable replacement for retiring Chief Robert Contee, who assumed the position in 2021.

Emphasizing Diversity and Inclusion

Bowser highlighted the significance of diversity, equity, and inclusion as she moves forward in the search for a new chief of police. She emphasized the government’s commitment to hiring leaders who truly reflect the city’s values. According to Bowser, the “Metropolitan Police Department is one of the most diverse in the country.”

Residents were encouraged to actively participate in the town hall, which took place at the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library. They were invited to submit questions online or call in to share their goals for the Metropolitan Police Department.

Addressing Rising Crime Rates

Washington has witnessed a concerning 28% increase in overall crime in 2023 compared to the previous year, reflecting a larger issue faced by cities across the nation. Robberies have surged by 31%, homicides by 15%, and motor vehicle theft by a staggering 121%, according to data from MPD released on Thursday.

Deputy Mayor Lindsey Appiah emphasized the crucial role played by MPD in implementing effective law enforcement strategies to ensure safety. Appiah stated, “MPD plays a key role in our prevention space, with our federal partners, in our rehabilitation efforts, and more.”

Many callers expressed their concerns about the factors contributing to the rise in crime and the lack of a sense of safety among residents. They stressed the importance of having a chief who understands the complexities of leading a large organization, is dedicated to reducing crime, and prioritizes the safety and well-being of the community.

Addressing Homelessness and Affordable Housing

Residents also voiced their concerns about the homelessness crisis in Washington, which they believe has been exacerbated by the end of emergency pandemic measures. They called for increased funding for affordable housing to tackle this pressing issue. Data released by the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments last month revealed a 12% increase in homelessness compared to the previous year, marking the highest number in several years.

One caller questioned why the mayor has not deployed the National Guard to address the city’s most pressing concerns. Kevin Donahue, the city administrator for DC Government, explained that the National Guard is not trained or equipped to function as a police force. Additionally, the National Guard in Washington does not have sufficient numbers to work alongside MPD.

Bowser also commended the city’s efforts in education, highlighting that Washington school districts were among the first in the region to resume in-person learning post-pandemic.

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