(Part-1) DC will discuss huge public safety law to reduce violent crime

Washington - Local officials in the nation's capital proposed public safety legislation Wednesday to reduce rising violent crime rates that have alarmed the public and drawn congressional scrutiny.

The act repackages and consolidates past measures and interim anti-crime laws, including harsher punishments for a variety of gun-related offenses and more scope for judges to hold suspects before trial.

“Pretty much everything in here are bills that were introduced, had a hearing and had a public process,” said judicial and public safety committee chair Brooke Pinto of Ward 2.

Washington homicides rose 35% in 2023, while auto thefts and carjackings quadrupled. Last year, a U.S. Congressman and a UAE ambassador were carjacked in D.C. Last year, Deputy Mayor for Public Safety Lyndsey Appiah told a congressional panel that the District is in a crime crisis.

During the COVID-19 outbreak and lockdown, violent crime rose in numerous US cities. Post-pandemic killings have reduced in New York City, Chicago, Philadelphia, and Baltimore, while they have increased in Washington.

The measure loosens police prohibitions on physically handling criminals and vehicle chases. In non-serious force incidents, officers might study their body camera footage before reporting.

The 13-member D.C. Council, split between judicial reformers and those advocating for more aggressive enforcement and prosecutions, will likely discuss some issues. A contentious plan would empower the Metropolitan Police Department to proclaim 1,000-square-foot public areas “drug free zones” for 120 hours, or five days. Those inside those zones would have to justify their presence and loitering would be strictly prohibited.

It provides the police freedom to decide that this area cannot be visited, Pinto said, adding that the policy is aimed to calm blocks that have seen recent cycles of violence and vengeance.

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