Washington D.C., officials announced a new crime-fighting initiative Wednesday that will be manned by police officers on mountain bicycles and scooters in high-crime areas in an effort to engage with the community following several days of gun violence that saw a 6-year-old girl killed.
Metropolitan Police Department Chief Robert ConteeIII said the Community-Focused Patrol Unit will consist of three squads led by a sergeant with eight officers. The goal, he said, was to have officers engage with community members. The officers will be able to "easily move and be redeployed" citywide throughout the day to address incidents and crime trends, the department said.
"This is a direct result of conversations I've had with communities," the chief told reporters. "'We want to see police officers out of the cars. We want to see police officers in the community'. Well, here you have it."
As of Wednesday, the city had 105 homicides, which is on pace to match or surpass last year's 198 killings. Since October 2020, the department has decreased by almost 215 officers, Contee said.
Police said they will base patrols hours on violent-crime trends from the previous 14 days of this year and the next 14 days of the previous year.
Initially, the officers will be deployed to the city's Columbia Heights, Washington Highlands and Bloomingdale neighborhoods. The program is expected to run through October before being re-evaluated, a police spokesperson told Fox News.
"Having officers on mountain bikes and scooters maximizes the opportunity for community engagement and communication with residents in our neighborhoods," Contee said.
The initiative comes following a violent weekend in which 6-year-old Nyiah Courtney was killed and shots were fired outside Nationals Park during a Major League Baseball game. Contee said the unit's formation was not a response to Courtney's killing.
The unit was first deployed last week, police said.
Meanwhile, to stem the flow of violence, Mayor Muriel Bowser on Monday directed the police department to use "any overtime necessary" to address public safety.