While crime rates may be going down around the country – if you believe the FBI’s latest crime statistics, anyway – in the nation’s capital, crime continues to rise.
The city is on pace to record the highest number of murders since George W. Bush’s first term, and carjackings are skyrocketing. It’s the soft-on-crime policies promulgated by the District of Columbia government that’s responsible for this crime wave, and everyone knows it.
What can be done to restore law and order?
A comparison of crime in the District of Columbia in 2023 versus crime in D.C. just a year earlier is instructive. In 2022, there were 182 homicides; as of Nov. 15, 2023, there were 243 homicides, representing a 34% increase.
In 2022, there were 1,839 robberies; so far in 2023 there have been 3,075, a 67% increase.
In 2022, there were 3,109 motor vehicle thefts, compared to 6,142 in 2023, a 98% increase. And while there were 485 carjackings in all of 2022, as of October 3, 2023, there were already 753 carjackings, a 55% increase.
Statistics can be dry. Sometimes stories can convey the truth with more impact.
Late one evening just a few days ago, a federal agent fired at three people seen breaking into a car parked outside a home in Georgetown, one of the more expensive neighborhoods in the nation’s capital. Federal agents don’t regularly fire their weapons to prevent crimes like auto theft – in fact, Department of Homeland Security guidelines prevent agents from firing warning shots or shooting at a moving vehicle in an attempt to stop someone fleeing the scene of a crime, even when the automobile in question is owned by the federal government, as this one was. (In fact, in this case, the vehicle was part of the Secret Service protective detail assigned to guard President Biden’s granddaughter, Naomi Biden.)
An unoccupied vehicle outside the president’s granddaughter’s home isn’t the only vehicle attached to a prominent Democrat politician to be the object of a crime in the nation’s capital, though. Last month, Texas Democrat Congressman Henry Cuellar was carjacked outside his apartment building in Washington’s Navy Yard neighborhood, an upscale residential area revitalized by the construction of Nationals Park, ballfield of the city’s MLB franchise. (Cuellar was unharmed, and his car was found a day later a few miles away.)
Ideas have consequences; so do actions, even if it sometimes takes time for the effects to become evident. In this case, the District of Columbia Council took actions that sent clear signals about crime, and the consequences have become evident.
First, in the summer of 2020, in the wake of the George Floyd demonstrations, the council voted to defund the police by cutting the police budget. Last year, the council enacted the Comprehensive Policing and Justice Reform Act, which heightened scrutiny on police officers and made it easier to fire them – an anti-police law so bad that majorities in both houses of Congress tried to overturn it.
Then, in November of 2022, the council voted to “modernize” the city’s Criminal Code. That “modernization” (read: “softening”) eliminated virtually all of the code’s mandatory minimum sentencing requirements for violent crimes, even as it drastically reduced maximum penalties available to the courts.
Moreover, the revisions established the right to a jury trial for most misdemeanor offenses, which would have overloaded an already crowded court system and reduced the resources devoted to prosecuting the more serious felony cases.
Even D.C.’s exceedingly progressive mayor, Muriel Bowser, was aghast. She vetoed the bill, but the council overrode her veto.
Not surprisingly, with an underfunded, handcuffed police force and the softening of the penalties attached to serious crimes, crime spiked. See statistics above.
Enter the U.S. Congress, which resides in the nation’s capital and has a stake in the matter – in fact, Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution grants Congress the power “to exercise exclusive legislation in all cases whatsoever” over the capital city. Despite the fact that Democrats control the Senate, and might have been expected to run political cover for the all-Democrat D.C. city government, both houses of Congress passed legislation overturning the criminal code revisions promulgated by the D.C. Council – and on March 20, 2023, President Joe Biden signed that overturning into law.
But the crime rate still soared. Apparently, criminals believe the mood in D.C. is still “soft on crime,” despite what the president and the Congress did to reverse the softening of the city’s criminal penalties.
So now the Congress is considering an even tougher action – three Republican Congressmen have introduced H.R. 5195, the Seat of Government Act. The new bill would repeal the 1973 D.C. Home Rule Act, which created the District’s current government, and would, thereby, return full control of city government functions to the Congress.
With a Democrat in the White House and a Senate controlled by Democrats, it’s hard to see how that bill could successfully run the traps and become law.
Of course, that’s what the soft-on-crime crowd at D.C. City Hall probably thought about that bill the president signed back in March, too.
Jenny Beth Martin is Honorary Chairman of Tea Party Patriots Action.
The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of the Daily Caller News Foundation.
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