News & Politics

DC Is Bringing In a Ton of Law Enforcement—Starting This Weekend

The current situation requires "a whole new level of policing," Mayor Bowser says.

Photograph by Evy Mages

At a press conference earlier today, a reporter asked DC Mayor Muriel Bowser to characterize the Capitol Police’s response to yesterday’s insurrection at the US Capitol Building. She described it with one word: “failure.” 

Bowser is now taking several measures of her own. She has called for a nonpartisan Congressional commission to investigate the security failures at the Capitol building. She’d also like the commission to examine why the federal law enforcement response was so much stronger during this summer’s George Floyd protests than it was yesterday. 

Additionally, Bowser asked that control of the DC National Guard transfer to her. When the Capitol was finally secured yesterday, it was with the assistance of several factions of law enforcement: Virginia State Police, Arlington County Police, Prince William County Police, Fairfax County Police, Maryland State Police, Montgomery County Police, Prince George’s County Police, New Jersey State Police, and the National Guard.

Both Bowser and new DC Police chief Robert Contee III said that the “domestic terrorists” who participated in the insurrection should be held accountable. They are asking the public to help identify individuals involved. Persons of interest are included here, and residents can call 202-727-9099 or text 50411 to send in tips or information anonymously. Bowser also called for President Trump to be held responsible for his role in inciting the violence. “What we saw yesterday is what he wanted to happen, and we must not underestimate the damage he can do to our nation and our democracy over the next two weeks,” she said.

To that end, a public emergency will be in place through January 21—it allows the city to implement extreme measures to protect public safety. For now though, Bowser says Washingtonians should “go about living their lives” and implored them not to counter-protest should more pro-Trump demonstrations arise. Any curfews or public transit closures will be assessed on a daily basis and announced through the city’s emergency alert system. (The full order can be read here.).  

There is speculation that Trump supporters will return to the city on January 20—inauguration day—and attempt to bar Biden from entering the White House. A seven-foot non-scaleable fence (similar to the one around the White House), is currently being installed around the Capitol grounds. In addition to a full activation of the DC National Guard, law enforcement from Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, and New York will be coming to the District. All told, there will be 6200 guardsmen in the city by this weekend; and there are currently 850 on the Capitol grounds alone. The fence and guardsmen will be place for at least 30 days.

Bowser also intimated that residents should expect that unrest and violence may extend beyond Biden’s inauguration. “As the Nation’s Capital, that means a whole different level of policing,” Bowser said. “We have a lot to think about if this is going to be a new normal in America.”

Jane Recker
Assistant Editor

Jane is a Chicago transplant who now calls Cleveland Park her home. Before joining Washingtonian, she wrote for Smithsonian Magazine and the Chicago Sun-Times. She is a graduate of Northwestern University, where she studied journalism and opera.