Democratic Washington, D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser unveiled a crime bill Monday that would walk back police reforms the city enacted in the wake of the Black Lives Matter (BLM) protests in 2020.
The “Addressing Crime Trends Now Act” would reinstate several regulations that had been removed by the D.C. City Council previously, including allowing certain types of chokeholds and establishing more guidelines to allow police to chase after suspects in cars, according to a press release. Residents have begged for more police presence as neighborhoods that were once viewed as safe have become swallowed by an increase in crime. (RELATED: DC First Responder Says Police Shortage Endangers EMT Lives)
“This legislation reflects what our community is telling us: they want appropriate accountability for those who choose to commit crimes and inflict fear in our neighborhoods,” Bowser said in the press release. “At a time when we’re dealing with historically low staffing levels at MPD, we’re making common-sense changes that recognize the day-to-day operational challenges our officers experience and that will better support safe and effective policing.”
#ACTNowDC ensures we have a policy environment that supports our police officers and allows them to protect our community and make DC safer.
— Mayor Muriel Bowser (@MayorBowser) October 23, 2023
First responders have begun to feel less safe because of the city’s lenient criminal laws, and multiple council members have deplored the lack of policing in D.C. The council has heavily advocated for police reforms since the 2020 BLM protests, passing a law in 2022 to prevent police from using force against violent criminals and slashing the police budget.
Bowser admitted that these previous police reforms had made it “more difficult to keep communities safe” and said the new bill would “clarify” policies to help police do their job, according to the press release. She also said that the previous reforms had unintended “consequences” that prevented officers from holding “criminals accountable for their actions.”
Crime quickly spiked after the police reforms in 2022, with violent crime increasing 41% and overall crime going up 27%, according to police data. Criminals have murdered 225 people so far this year, a 33% increase from last year and the highest level of murder in the city in 25 years.
“This legislation is critical for the public safety of the District of Columbia,” Acting Chief Pamela Smith said in the press release. “The legislation is responsive to what we are hearing from [the] community and takes important steps forward. . .”
The D.C. mayor’s office did not immediately respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.
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