Drug-Plagued Capital Stops Overtime Patrols With AM-Bush-Drugs Rdp, Bjt
WASHINGTON (AP) _ Extra police patrols of drug-infested neighborhoods in the District of Columbia have been suspended indefinitely out of concern that officers are being overworked, police officials said Wednesday.
Police Chief Isaac Fulwood told police officers earlier this week the overtime patrols would be stopped because of the physical and mental toll the program is taking on the department’s street patrol officers.
The announcement came the day after President Bush, in his nationally televised address, cited drug-selling that has reached the park across the street from the White House in detailing his $7.9 billion anti-drug strategy.
The extra foot patrols begun during the summer were a response to the city’s record murder rate believed to be fueled by drugs.
″It’s a burnout factor that the chief had to take into account for the wellbeing of his men,″ said police spokesman Sgt. Joe Gentile. ″Right now, we don’t have any idea if or when it will be reinstated.″
The city hopes to hire 700 more police officers with $127 million in federal money, but approval is still tied up in Congress.
Gentine said the extra patrols have been particularly taxing because they followed almost three years of other extra-duty programs.
″First you had Operation Clean Sweep (an anti-drug program begun in 1987), and more recently there was the redeployment of officers to bad neighborhoods and the six-day work week,″ Gentile said. ″There was a cumulative effect, especially since so many guys had to make extra court appearances.″
All of those programs, especially the mandatory six-day work week and Operation Clean Sweep, relied heavily on overtime.
In the recent plan, officers worked extra four-hour shifts three days a week for the past month. Before that, officers volunteered to work overtime on their days off or following their regular shifts.
Fulwood has submitted a plan to Mayor Marion Barry to require all officers to work 60 hours per week. Barry has not acted on the idea, which police officials estimate will cost about $1 million per week in overtime.