District of Columbia Law Enforcement Agencies
There are 4262 police officers in the District of Columbia (DC). Although not a state, the District of Columbia is the city which serves as the capital of the United States. The city of Washington became the seat of national power on July 16, 1790. Because of this distinction, it naturally must have police agencies independent of all other states. The following lists show the eight individual city police agencies, the seven university/campus agencies, and the 27 special law enforcement organizations which are needed to maintain order in the capital.
Oversight for the police organizations in Washington, DC is very unlike the states. ADC has a Mayor and city council, but the U.S. Congress holds the final authority to determine law. However, Congress has permitted the council to manage the city in a fairly autonomous way–rarely interfering in city affairs. As for the non-city and campus police, most law enforcement falls under the auspices of the Department of Justice. Hence, authority over Washington DC law enforcement is divided among the Mayor, the Congress, and the President.
The Governing Issues Raised by Initiative 71 in Washington, DC
This unique situation was especially highlighted in 2014 when the electorate voted on Initiative 71. This ballot initiative legalized marijuana in DC. It permitted the possession of up to two ounces and even allowed cultivation of such small quantities. On election day, November 4, 2014, the voters approved the measure by 64.87%. By December 9, 2014, the United States Congress blocked the final passage.
Then, on January 13, 2015 the city council of Washington, DC ignored Congress and applied normal protocols, effectively legalizing cannibas in the city.
This raised important issues for both Congress and the people of DC, the Mayor and City Council included. The question had to be asked,
“Who actually runs DC? Who has final authority in DC? The people, who voted for the initiative, or Congress, who opposed the will of the people?”
On February 24, Congressional Representatives Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) and Mark Meadows (R-NC) sent a letter to Mayor Muriel Bowser informing her office that proceeding with the initiative would be a violation of law. Thus, Congress appeared to be drawing a line in the sand, ignoring the will of the people in this matter.
During this time, Congress was engaged in a special review. This ended on February 26. The result was odd. Because the blockage of the initiative was rolled into the budget plan for the new fiscal year, funds were not alocated for enforcement of neither the ban nor the lifting thereof. Essentially, the 114th Congress in usual form, simply chose to do nothing.
Essentially, without funding, the DC city council had no alternative than to suspend passage and ban public consumption of Cannibas. As of this writing, the issue is still not resolved.
The Impact on Washington, DC Policing because of Initiative 71
Because of the difficult issues related to proper authority to decide laws in Washington, DC, policing has had to adapt to numerous changes. Because of Congressional actions, the passage of Initiative 71 did not legalize to the extent that the citizens sought, but did effectively legalize the substance for anyone over 21.
Police still rightfully arrest anyone driving a vehicle under the influence of cannibas and anyone under 21. But public use was not approved and the buying and selling of marijuana is illegal. Thus, police officers along with the public have had to adjust to the new regulations, which could change in an instant. If you would like to learn more about the exact regulations in place regarding cannibas in DC, view the pdf provided by the DC City Council here.
8 City Police Agencies in Washington, DC
- District of Columbia Department of Corrections
- District of Columbia Housing Authority Office of Public Safety
- District of Columbia Metropolitan Police Department
- District of Columbia Protective Services
- District of Columbia Public Library Guard Force
- Metro Transit Police Department
- United States Marshals (act in the capacity of Sheriff’s Department)
- Washington National Cathedral Police
27 Federal Police Agencies with Special Enforcement in DC
- Amtrak Police
- Armed Forces Retirement Home
- Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives
- Bureau of Engraving and Printing Police
- Drug Enforcement Administration
- Federal Bureau of Investigation Police
- Federal Bureau of Prisons
- Federal Protective Service
- Government Printing Office Uniformed Police Branch
- Military Police Corps
- National Zoological Park Police
- Smithsonian Police
- Supreme Court Police
- S. Air Force Office of Special Investigations
- S. Army Criminal Investigative Command
- S. Coast Guard Investigative Service
- S. Naval Criminal Investigative Service
- S. Pentagon Police
- S. State Department Diplomatic Security Service
- S. Federal Reserve Police
- United States Capitol Police
- United States Department of Defense Police
- United States Department of Veterans Affairs Police
- United States Mint Police
- United States Park Police
- United States Postal Police
- United States Secret Service
7 College/University Police Departments in DC
- American University Department of Public Safety
- Catholic University Department of Public Safety
- Gallaudet University Department of Public Safety
- George Washington University Police Department
- Georgetown University Police Department
- Howard University Campus Police
- University of the District of Columbia Police Department