On Friday morning Councilmember Jim Graham, chair of the Committee on Human Services, held a public roundtable to discuss PR 19-289, the MPD Reimbursement Detail Subsidy Program Resolution of 2011.
The resolution addresses the establishment of reimbursement levels for the subsidy program for MPD Reimbursable Details. The program allows local businesses to hire overtime MPD officers to police high-crime nightlife areas on weekend nights and subsidizes a percentage of the officers’ pay, returning that percentage to the businesses hiring the officers.
“This is not a luxury,” said Councilmember Graham at Friday’s roundtable. “To my mind, this is a necessity.”
The program was established in 2008 and has been utilized primarily in the Georgetown, Adams Morgan and H Street nightlife districts. In its original form, the government subsidized 50 percent of overtime hiring costs.
That version of the program was pulled last year when funding was eliminated. A new version was reinstated on a 120 day emergency basis in July, this time subsidizing only 25 percent of hiring expenses for officers working overtime between the hours of midnight and 4 a.m.
“This is a win-win program for all participants,” said Ed Solomon, a representative of the Georgetown Advisory Neighborhood Commission.
Solomon said the Georgetown ANC and the Business Improvement District supported the program and would like to see it continue in the M Street corridor, as well as parts of K Street and Wisconsin Avenue.
Not all in attendance at Friday’s roundtable shared Solomon’s enthusiasm.
“There’s all kinds of financial ramifications with the current system,” said Skip Coburn, who represents the D.C. Nightlife Association.
Coburn noted that businesses have complained that hired officers congregate in high-traffic areas, so businesses in low-traffic areas do not reap the benefits of the program. He also stated that the administrative processing of legal infractions can keep officers off the streets for hours, shortchanging business owners.
Representatives of the Adams Morgan community, however, voiced their support for the program. Lisa Duperier of Adams Morgan Main Street said she found reimbursable details cost-effective because they can be managed on a hyperlocal level.
Kristen Barden of the Adams Morgan Partnership Business Improvement District also spoke in favor of the program, voicing her hope that the District Council would approve a 50 percent program reimbursement rate and create a position in the deputy mayor’s office solely to manage reimbursement detailing.