Nadeau Previews Bill to Bolster MPD Recruitment, Retention

WASHINGTON, D.C. — At a time when the Metropolitan Police Department is struggling to recruit officers, Councilmember Brianne K. Nadeau unveiled legislation Thursday to help expand the Metropolitan Police Department’s Cadet Corps, a program that prepares young D.C. residents to enter the police force.

To address challenges in recruiting and retaining new officers, the Compensation and Development of Extraordinary Trainees (CADET) Act would increase the pay for cadets from $36,500 to $60,000, enough for a cadet to live on while they meet the requirements of the program and making it a more attractive and sustainable option. The bill would also expand eligibility up to age 33 from the current 24, increasing the number of potential applicants/enrollees.

Over the last fiscal year, MPD gained 89 new officers, while losing 190 officers.

“This legislation builds on prior investments by the Council in the Cadet program and helps recruit D.C. residents who know our neighborhoods and are connected to them and the people in them,“ Nadeau said. “The Cadet Corps program is a model for creating career pathways for young people, and its organic recruitment model has yielded participants who are more diverse than the rest of our police force.”

The Cadet program pays for cadets to earn their associate degree at the University of the District of Columbia Community College, provides dental and health benefits, and annual sick leave. Cadets typically participate in the program for the two years it takes to receive their degree. According to MPD, cadets convert to career police status upon completion of up to 60 college credits and acceptance into the Recruit Officer Training Program phase.

Nadeau says the increased pay will especially help with retention. More than 20 percent of its participants over the past five years have left the program without completing it. That’s no surprise, Nadeau says, given that Cadets must juggle classes with training, while being paid only roughly $17.50 per hour.

“The District is not alone in finding it challenging to fill vacant positions in many critical fields from healthcare to education and everything in between,” said Nadeau. “The Council has pending legislation to address pipeline shortages in several of these fields. The Cadet program is one of the few that offers an on-ramp from high school to a career in a field with a workforce shortage. We should be looking to expand it and use this model for other front-line jobs.”

Nadeau has led efforts in other sectors to raise wages, passing a law to increase wages for direct support workers for people with disabilities; raised taxes in order to increase pay for childcare workers; introduced legislation to provide benefits for Clean Team workers; supported the contract to increase wages for DCPS teachers, and supported an increase in the minimum wage.

“Our residents, the people doing hard, front line work that others don’t want to do, deserve adequate wages that allow them to live in the city,” Nadeau said. “And it helps with recruiting. Every department in the region is competing for new recruits and they’re all offering competitive signing bonuses and it’s not moving the needle. If we can pay cadets a living wage, we can grow the program, support our own residents, and fill the gaps as officers retire.”

The proposal to enhance the cadet program is one aspect of Nadeau’s holistic approach to public safety. She has championed investments in alternatives to police such as behavioral health services, youth engagement, and violence intervention programs that mitigate community-based conflicts. Nadeau authored the District’s Red Flag law that allows for the confiscation of firearms from those who are threatening to hurt themselves or others. Earlier this week Nadeau held a community discussion about violence prevention with the Office of the Attorney General, and tonight she will join MPD’s Third District Community Advisory Committee meeting to talk more about this legislation.

In the budget recommendations approved unanimously this week by the Committee on Public Works and Operations, which she chairs, she identified nearly $4.5 million to fund violence prevention and direct outreach programs, including seven new full-time staff at the Office of Neighborhood Safety and Engagement, additional Community Navigators for substance use disorder intervention, and expanding the Safe Commercial Corridors program.

Nadeau is inviting other councilmembers to join her in formally introducing the bill next week.


Read the full bill text


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