High MPD Attrition Rates Lead Officials to Push for Reforms

In response to a near-10 percent loss of total officers over the past two years, the Metropolitan Police Department has begun an effort to lower its attrition rate and make its positions more attractive to recruits.

Nearly 200 MPD officers left their positions in each of the last two years – a number Kristopher Baumann, chairman of the Washington, D.C. police labor union, called “staggering.”

Although the MPD plans to hire 400 more officers, Baumann said that with the current attrition rates, it would take up to 16 months to gain even 100 recruits.

Baumann ascribed the high turnover rate to the MPD’s strict disciplinary system and an increase in the number of lucrative positions at other security organizations after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

“Officers can’t do their jobs” when constantly under disciplinary review, he said.

MPD Chief Cathy Lanier, who stepped into her position at the beginning of this year, said she is implementing changes to maintain officers on staff, according to a report in The Examiner.

Baumann said that Lanier has already put more authority into the hands of District commanders and that this added responsibility has helped boost morale. “[She is] putting pride back in the department,” Baumann said.

According to Baumann, Lanier is pushing for a 20-year retirement plan, in which officers can retire after 20 years on the force, instead of the current 25-year plan. He said she also hopes to implement a shorter work day.

Baumann added that Lanier is additionally planning to allow officers to take home their police cars, which would shorten the officers’ response time.

Baumann said, though, that it is up to the city council to provide the funding for any initiative.

– Anna Cheimets

Former General Criticizes Bush Administration’s Foreign Policy

The world is more divided now than it has been at any point in its history, former general Anthony Zinni said in a speech Wednesday in ICC Auditorium.

Zinni, an outspoken critic of the U.S. invasion of Iraq and the Bush administration’s foreign policy in the Middle East, said that a “perfect storm” of changes – technological, economic, environmental and social – has helped create a world where nations and cultures are extremely divided, despite frequent cross-cultural interaction.

He said that the Bush administration has failed to understand these complex changes, and described the global war on terrorism as “declaring war on a tactic.” The United States has engaged terrorism on a limited tactical level, not a broader societal one, Zinni said.

The United States “has no approach to fighting [terrorism]; we are reactive and confused,” he added.

Zinni, who retired from the United States Marine Corps in 2000 after over three decades of service, said that although he did not support the U.S. decision to enter Iraq, he feels that American forces must remain engaged.

Zinni called for the United States to increase its troop level in Iraq last year.

The speech was sponsored by the Institute for the Study of Diplomacy and the Center for Peace and Security Studies.

– Vinod Stalam

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