City Cast

D.C. Public Safety Bill Update

Kaela Cote-Stemmermann
Kaela Cote-Stemmermann
Posted on July 6
WeeOoo WeeOooo. (Tony Hisgett/Wikimedia Commons)

WeeOoo WeeOooo. (Tony Hisgett/Wikimedia Commons)

Last week, more than 160 people testified at D.C. Council’s public safety hearing to discuss Mayor Muriel Bowser’s proposed anti-crime bill. It’s meant to address the District's rising crime rates and would mean harsher sentences, more court discretion, and tighter security.

The hearing highlighted long-running tensions in the city. Those in favor say stricter policies are the only way to get a handle on crime. Others find the bill a return to the failed “tough on crime” policies of the past.

Specifically, the bill would:

  • Increase the penalties for gun-related crimes and possession.
  • Increase the reimbursement available for home security systems.
  • Tilt the scales toward more pretrial detention.
  • Give judges more discretion in releasing felons under the “second chance” amendment.
  • Permit DNA collection from sexual assault suspects earlier in the legal process

The bill’s provisions are complicated, to put it lightly. Aside from the dozens of ANCs, returning citizens, business owners, and advocates who all expressed conflicting views on the issue, there was also a legal impasse, with the U.S. Attorney for D.C. for the bill, and the city’s attorney general strongly against it. Confusing.

Overall, violent crime in the District has spiked 21% this year, and homicides have been at levels not seen since the ‘90s. The majority of these have been in Black-majority neighborhoods in Southeast. DCist reports that out of the 111 homicides this year, 71 of them have been in Wards 7 and 8.

Members of the D.C. Council are likely to debate the bill next week, before closing their spring session.

Hey DC

Want to know what's happening in D.C.? Sign up for our free newsletter, Hey DC. Packed with local news, curated event recs, local life hacks, and more, it's your daily toolkit for getting the most out of the city you love.

Local Civics

See All

The latest in DC