The head of the city’s police union called Friday for putting the troubled Police Department under direct federal control. Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott (R-Miss.) said “drastic action” may be needed.
The talk came two days after a decorated police officer was fatally shot in his patrol car at a traffic light outside a nightclub.
The city’s murder rate has been rising, with 46 slayings already this year, after 398 in all of 1996.
Ron Robertson, a 28-year police veteran and president of the city’s Fraternal Order of Police, said the department “has steadily slid downhill” since the district gained home rule in 1976.
“We don’t have enough officers on the streets, and those officers don’t have necessities, including working cars and radios,” he said.
On Capitol Hill, Lott said of the call to federalize the 3,600-officer force: “Drastic problems call sometimes for drastic action. I’d have to think about that.
“When you have a nation’s capital that’s not safe not only for people but for policemen, something has to be done.”
Lott was referring to Wednesday’s shooting of Officer Brian Gibson, whose killer reportedly was angry because a moonlighting District of Columbia police officer had just evicted him from the club.