Washington D.C. Proposal To Combat Violent Crime Surge Won’t Go Nearly Far Enough, Critics Say

(Photo by BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP via Getty Images)

James Lynch Contributor
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A new proposal from the Washington, D.C., city council to combat the city’s violent crime surge will not meaningfully address the problem, critics say.

D.C. Councilmember Brooke Pinto introduced a bill in January to strengthen gun crime penalties, expand the definition of carjacking, allow DNA sample collection when suspects are arrested and charged with felonies, add penalties for retail theft and enable police to designate high-crime areas drug-free zones. (RELATED: ‘Shoplifters Unite’: Flyer Calls For Mass Looting Of DC Supermarket)


But opponents of the bill, who don’t believe it goes far enough, expressed concerns about Democratic D.C. Attorney General Brian Schwalb’s willingness to prosecute violent crime and the need for Washington to put more police on the streets.

“Sure, the DC crime bill would be a step in the right direction, but it fails to do the number one thing to prevent crime: put more police officers on the street. Until the mayor and city council realize this, crime will stay high in DC and Black and Hispanic communities will continue to suffer, as these communities experience disproportionately high crime rates,” Our America National Director Gabriel Nadales told the Daily Caller in a statement.

Total violent crime in D.C. surged by 39% in 2023, as robberies increased by 67% and motor vehicle theft jumped by 82%, according to police crime statistics. Homicides went up by 35% and other forms of theft increased by 23% in 2023, the police data indicates.  Total property crime was 24% higher in 2023 and all crime went up by 26% last year.

D.C. crime statistics from 1972-2002 and the 20-year homicide trend on the police database indicate the city’s total number of homicides reached a 20-year high in 2023 due to the district’s crime spike.

Multiple Democratic lawmakers and an FBI agent have been victims of D.C.’s crime wave. Once-trendy neighborhoods have become unsafe and small businesses have fled the city in part due to difficulties with crime.

“Small businesses commend tough-on-crime pieces of legislation like D.C.’s new crime bill. Due to Democrats’ ‘defund the police’ policies and rhetoric, crime has surged in major cities like D.C. Surging crime is just one of many failed Democrat policies that have hurt small business profitability and forced many to close or move to the suburbs,” Job Creators Network CEO Alfredo Ortiz told the Caller in a statement.

WASHINGTON, DC – MAY 19: Crime scene tape sets a perimeter around a house on the 3200 block of Woodland Drive NW May 19, 2015 in Washington, DC. Firefighters discovered the bodies of Savvas Savopoulos, 46, his wife Amy, 47, their 10-year-old son Philip, and the housekeeper, Veralicia Figueroa, 57, last Thursday afternoon when they responded to a blaze at the house. Two Savopoulos daughters were away in boarding school at the time. Investigators have ruled the deaths homicides and say they could continue to collect evidence at the house for another week. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

In October, Democratic Texas Rep. Henry Cuellar was the victim of a carjacking, and in February a man assaulted Democratic Minnesota Rep. Angie Craig inside her apartment building. Two suspects carjacked an FBI special agent’s vehicle at gunpoint in November.

President Joe Biden signed a bill in March to block the Washington City Council’s legislation designed to reduce penalties for carjacking and robberies. House Republicans led the effort to prevent the city council’s measures from going into effect after the legislature overruled a veto from Democratic Mayor Muriel Bowser.

Schwalb supported the revised criminal code and opposed prosecuting juvenile suspects as adults despite the surge in criminal activity from D.C. teenagers. He has repeatedly discussed policies to address the “root causes” of crime and to “reform” the system with alternatives to incarcerating violent criminals.

“Nothing in Council member Brooke Pinto’s crime bill will force DC AG Brian Schwalb to do his job and prosecute the criminals who return to Washington’s streets time and time again. It’s also telling that the majority Democrat council is looking to roll back some of their soft-on-crime policies that have clearly not benefited Washingtonians over the past few years,” Sentinel Action Fund President Jessica Anderson told the Daily Caller in a statement.

Pinto’s bill is an omnibus package with over 100 provisions that passed unanimously out of the D.C. council’s Judiciary and Public Safety Committee on Jan. 17. Her legislation is expected to be brought for a vote on Feb. 6 for the first of two votes.

“Every day, I hear from residents across all eight wards about the urgent need to address crime in our neighborhoods. My Secure DC Omnibus is our opportunity to turn the tide on the crime trends that have overwhelmed our communities,” Pinto said upon introducing the omnibus legislation. Her office did not respond to a request for comment.

Schwalb’s office did not respond to a request for comment on Pinto’s legislation. Bowser has come out in favor of the Secure DC Omnibus package and the Department of Justice (DOJ) is deploying additional resources to D.C. to help combat violent crime.

“Consumers can only hope that this new crime bill means D.C. officials have finally woken up to the reality they have caused in the nation’s capital. Crime is a major consumer issue. It is hard to get excited about shopping with your family when staring down the threat of carjackings, muggings, or seeing a stolen car blow through the storefront as part of a smash-and-grab assault. Passing better crime laws is a huge first step,” Alliance for Consumers Executive Director Oh Skinner told the Caller.

“And after that: Consumers want to see D.C. officials actually start putting criminals behind bars and getting them off the streets so families can live their lives and shop the streets without fear.”