In the wake of the Ferguson, Mo., shooting, in which a white police officer shot a black teen, questions about the racial dynamics of the country’s police forces and the departments’ relationships with the cities they serve naturally arose. Ferguson is a predominantly black town, but its police department is more than 90 percent white, suggesting that most of the officers don’t live in Ferguson.
FiveThirtyEight subsequently published an article showing that most police officers throughout the country don’t live in the cities in which they work. The article showed that less than 20 percent of police officers in D.C. lived in the District, but that figure included all police forces like Park Police and U.S. Capitol Police.
So what about the Metropolitan Police Department—-the people who are on the ground patrolling commercial and residential neighborhoods throughout the city? Well, the numbers aren’t much different.
Information obtained by Washington City Paper through a Freedom of Information Act request shows that just 17 percent of MPD’s nearly 4,000 officers actually reside in the District. Sixty-two percent live in Maryland, and nearly 20 percent call Virginia home. The “other” category—-less than 1 percent of the force—-reflects new hires or pending retirees who may have non-local addresses.
The police force in 2013, according to the department’s most recent annual report, was comprised of 57 percent black officers and 33 percent white officers.
MPD spokeswoman Gwendolyn Crump says the police department aims to recruit District residents through efforts like the Cadet Program, which targets D.C. high school students or graduates. The program allows these residents to earn college credit at the University of the District of Columbia so they can meet the recruit entrance requirements. The department also provides financial assistance and other incentives to officers looking to become first-time homeowners in the District of Columbia.