70% of Members May Quit DC Police Force, Says Union President


If you want to defund the police and you live in Washington, D.C., don’t worry. You soon might not be paying the salaries of quite as many of them.

In an appearance Wednesday on “Fox & Friends First,” D.C. Police Union President Greggory Pemberton said a recent survey found seven in 10 police officers were considering quitting the job in the nation’s capital.

This is unfortunate timing, as the nation’s capital — and other major metropolitan areas — are seeing an upswing in crime.

“We recently did a study of our own members and we found that over 70 percent of them were considering leaving the police department, and the vast majority were considering leaving law enforcement altogether,” Pemberton told Fox News.

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The number is actually 71 percent, according to WTTG-TV. The D.C. Police Union, which represents members of the D.C. Metropolitan Police Department, conducted the survey last week among 600 of its 3,600 members.

That wasn’t the only alarming number they found.

The survey revealed 93 percent of officers believed discipline against officers would increase. As for crime, 96 percent believed it would go up. A whopping 98.7 concurred with MPD Chief Peter Newsham when he said the city council had “completely abandoned them.”

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Perhaps most importantly, 88 percent believed officer safety would decrease. Not only would that likely lead to more police officers leaving the force, it would also probably result in fewer recruits.

Granted, this was a survey conducted by the D.C. Police Union of its own members, which isn’t entirely scientific. As a glance at the state of mind of law enforcement at the moment, however, it’s both useful and telling.

You may remember the “Ferguson effect,” where the backlash against law enforcement in the wake of the Michael Brown shooting in Ferguson, Missouri, in 2014 made police overcautious.

“What we saw after that was police officers got the impression nationwide that citizens and governments alike did not want them doing any proactive policing, they didn’t want them going out and patrolling their neighborhoods,” Pemberton said

“Those officers still responded to … 911 calls, but that was about all they did.”

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That could return with a vengeance, Pemberton fears.

“My concerns are that what’s going on right now makes what happened in 2015 look like child’s play,” he said. “And I think rather than seeing police officers sit on their hands or fail to be more apprehensive about doing police work, I think you’re actually going to see people leaving law enforcement.”

“When people realize that they have to put their lives and their freedom and their families in jeopardy they’re going to start looking at other careers,” he added. “I think that if things keep going the way they’re going, I think you’re going to see a lot of police officers leave law enforcement, and that’s going to leave us in a really bad place.”

Whether or not this exodus materializes once this crisis passes is another thing entirely, but our nation’s law enforcement officers won’t soon forget the spring of 2020 and the ignominious treatment they received.

They were first sent to enforce the lockdown orders which blanketed the nation. This they sometimes did overzealously, yes — but they did so at the behest of politicians who, at that moment in time, found rigid, draconian policing both necessary and virtuous.

And then those politicians didn’t. With the death of George Floyd on May 25, they began preaching the gospel of Shaun King in unison from the soapboxes of their news conferences.

This didn’t mean that they needed the police any less, mind you. Even the most peaceful of protests needs some law enforcement present in case things take a turn for the problematic. As it turns out, the protests often did go south, and to the extent that they could, first responders were still needed to intervene.

Simultaneously, politicians began echoing the calls to defund the same police they were leaning on.

Nowhere was the hypocrisy more rank than Southern California, where few politicians not enmeshed in this moment would have the audacity Democratic Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti showed. Amid the protests, Garcetti proudly announced he was considering cutting up to $150 million from the Los Angeles Police Department’s budget to divert to a proposed $250 million slate of social programs. These, according to the Los Angeles Times, included “youth jobs, health initiatives and ‘peace centers’ to heal trauma.”

Meanwhile, over at the LAPD, almost all of the nearly 10,000-strong force had been working seven days a week during the worst of the protests. That meant the city couldn’t pay all of the $40 million overtime bill they amassed. All overtime past June 7 would instead be remunerated in time off, time which the officers could presumably spend at any number of “peace centers” if Mayor Garcetti gets his way.

It’s not just the protests liberal politicians need police for.

Pemberton said that the homicide rate in the District was up 10 percent from the year before. That’s actually a modest increase compared to New York City, where homicides in May were up 79 percent from 2019. Shootings were up 64 percent and burglaries were up 34 percent in the Big Apple.

“We are not going to allow gun violence to continue to grow in this city. We’re not going to go back to the days when there was so much violence pervading our communities,” New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio told WCBS-TV on Monday.

“We’re going to use new strategies and approaches in policing, new strategies and approaches at the community level. We’re going to do whatever it takes to fight back gun violence.”

But you need police officers for that, and you need police officers who believe city hall has their back.

In New York, Washington, D.C., and so many of our nation’s other great metropolises, it’s an open question whether you’re going to get that.

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C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014.
C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014. Aside from politics, he enjoys spending time with his wife, literature (especially British comic novels and modern Japanese lit), indie rock, coffee, Formula One and football (of both American and world varieties).
Morristown, New Jersey
Catholic University of America
Languages Spoken
English, Spanish
Topics of Expertise
American Politics, World Politics, Culture