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D.C.'s population has been on the rise in recent years, and those new residents could require additional police officers to keep them safe, according to D.C. Police Chief Cathy Lanier.
"We've been able to introduce some technology that makes us more efficient at what we do, but the increase in residents — we're getting about 1,000 new residents a month — it does increase workload. How much longer we can hold and sustain that, we will see. I certainly am running the numbers and analyzing it every day," she says.
In late December, the U.S. Census announced that D.C.'s population grew by two percent from 2012 to 2013, adding 13,000 residents and increasing the city's population to 646,000. Since 2000, D.C. has grown by 74,000 residents, the first period of sustained population growth since the 1950s.
The size of the Metropolitan Police Department fell from 4,040 sworn personnel in 2009 to 3,869 in 2012, but has since ticked up. As of January 5, there are 3,980 sworn officers in the department.
Lanier says that the growing city may not only require more officers, but that deployment patterns have changed with the expansion of nightlife areas. In a letter to D.C. Council Chair Phil Mendelson in Dec. 2012, Lanier said that blocks with 10 or more bars require four times the amount of manpower than blocks with fewer establishments.
To that end, Lanier says that she has started deploying additional officers in nightlife areas across the city.
"We deployed the first three groups of what will be groups of nightlife officers in nightlife areas, they went out about three months ago. They're deployed, you'll see them in nightlife areas around the city, they wear brightly colored vests and they have been specially trained," she says.