D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray and Metropolitan Police Chief Cathy Lanier welcomes 35 new recruits to the Police Academy Monday morning. Those recruits begin training this week in a program that will last more than six months.
The new recruits are part of a buildup of the MPD force. Gray announced earlier this year that he has secured funding for 300 additional officers, which went into effect Saturday at the beginning of the fiscal year. The goal is to build the department to 3,900 officers by the end of FY 2012.
The 35 men and women will complete a seven month training. The recruits come from as far away as Montana and range in ages from their early 20s to late 50s.
Police Chief Cathy Lanier was on-hand, and says that now that the police force has succeeded in getting homicides down in the city, she'd like to focus on the next challenge of addressing robberies, burglaries and thefts. She says more officers on the street will help on that front.
The MPD is now facing bigger threats from terrorism after the death of Osama Bin Laden and another top Al-qaida operative, Anwar al-Awlaki, overseas. This also comes at a time when Lanier finds herself at odds with the police union over staffing issues, including 'all hands on deck,' a program that requires officers to work even above their usual hours at the chief's discretion.
An arbitrator recently decided that the department will have to pay officers back overtime pay for two incidences of the program's use in 2009. Lanier has continued to implement the program this year as necessary, however, prompting questions on whether she has the authority to force officers to work without first bargaining with the union.