Residents of Washington, D.C., have been suffering through record-breaking crime that has only gotten worse over the past several years. Finally, Mayor Muriel Bowser is ready to propose anti-crime measures to offer citizens relief in the form of new legislation.
Among the changes, the bill would:
- Allow police to create “drug-free zones” for five days
- Create new penalties for organized retail theft
- Re-outlaw wearing a mask while committing a crime
- Revise the definition of a police chokehold, allowing police to make contact with the neck but not the throat
- Allow some vehicular pursuit
- Allow police to review body-worn camera video before filing a report
At least seven members of the D.C. City Council will have to approve Bowser’s legislation, which could be a significant hurdle. Some members believe the legislation does not address the most urgent issues – and creates new ones. “I am disappointed in the mayor’s proposal and the hype she’s created around it,” said council chair Phil Mendelson in a statement. “Residents are concerned about gun violence, robberies and carjackings. This proposal does not address gun violence, robberies and carjackings.”
While there would still be significant progress to be made should this bill pass, it would be an important step in the right direction. Theft has been a major concern as the city has seen organized shoplifting in CVS stores even in parts of town generally considered to be safe, plus a string of valet thefts and porch pirates have people on edge. Overall, property theft is up 29%, vehicle thefts are up 110% and shoplifting is up nearly 42% since last year.
Theft in grocery stores has been so bad residents are worried stores will close, leaving food deserts behind. D.C. Councilman Trayon White met with leaders at a local Giant store and found they had lost more than $500,000 to shoplifting. “We know it’s tough times and we know the price of food has skyrocketed in the last three years,” he said, “But we cannot afford to hurt ourselves by constantly taking it from the store. It means that everybody is going to be without a place to eat. And enough is enough.” Bowser has said she is committed to safety and ensuring residents have “safe access to fresh, healthy and affordable food,” and this legislation is working toward that goal.
The majority of Americans agree that police need to have the proper support to do their jobs well and keep our communities safe – something the police haven’t had in our nation’s capital for far too long. The results of that have been clear. Bowser’s proposals show dedication to making the city safe again.