WASHINGTON - On Monday, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser responded to a comment made by Council Chair Phil Mendelson in which Mendelson told FOX 5’s Stephanie Ramirez twice: "You can get away with murder in this city."
The comment was made in a conversation about proposed emergency legislation in the District to address the recent surge in violent crime.
FOX 5’s Stephanie Ramirez asked Mendelson, "If the discussion is among the young kids committing crime that ‘we’re not going to get locked up,’ how does this emergency legislation not address that?"
"Well, when kids are talking about how they’re not going to get locked up, that’s because they know that the police aren’t going to close the case," Mendelson responded,
"So not pre-trial, but closing the case," Ramirez replied.
"Correct," responded Mendelson, "Most robberies are not solved. Half of homicides are not solved very quickly if they’re solved at all."
In the midst of Ramirez's response, Mendelson then said, "[You know] you can get away with murder in this city, but that’s true of a lot of places. But increasing the closure rate – increasing the case closure rate has the quickest deterrent effect."
"I’m sorry, did you just say you can get away with murder in this city?" Ramirez questioned.
"That is what I said," Mendelson replied. "'Cause roughly 50% of homicides are not solved within the year they occurred."
"I’m not going to pay too much attention to asinine statements um, but I will – I am watching what he does," said D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser on Monday. "And tomorrow, he needs to go in the chamber and vote for Brooke Pinto’s emergency without amendment. If he’s concerned about crime, as we all are, we need to make sure when police say we need more police, we don’t defund them."
"I’m not going to pay attention to a Friday night … I’m going to give him the benefit of the doubt but, maybe it was after a late dinner or something," Bowser continued.
Mendelson was also asked about his comments, doubling down on his remarks.
"So I shouldn’t point out that 65% of the homicides that occurred last year were not closed last year with an arrest? I shouldn’t point that out? And the reason why I’m pointing it out is because folks are looking at the council to solve this. I don’t have a badge to make arrests," he told reporters.
Mendelson claimed he is not criticizing the police. He's stating it's on the mayor to address closure rates and resources needed by police to do so.
When asked about the 65% open case rate, Deputy Mayor for Public Safety Lindsey Appiah argued MPD was above the national average in the closure rate for all crimes.
The assistant chief defended the department, saying it takes time to build homicide cases.
The mayor and her team spoke at a planned Monday meeting held at the Turkey Thicket Recreation Center in Northeast D.C., where she, along with Council members Brook Pinto and Zachary Parker, threw their support behind emergency legislation Pinto introduced last week.
The "Public Safety Amendment Act," among other things, would police pursuits in certain circumstances, would make it a felony for anyone who shoots a gun in public, and gives judges more discretion to hold juveniles pre-trial if they’re accused of committing a violent crime, like the robberies and carjackings the city has been experiencing.
Some of the measures are based on Mayor Bowser's "Safer-Stronger DC" bill. If passed by the council on Tuesday, the emergency legislation would immediately go into effect for 90 days.
According to the latest D.C. Crime statistics, violent crime is up 30% from this time last year. Homicides are up 13%, robberies have risen 49%, and sex abuse crimes increased 35%.
DC Mayor Bowser, city leaders focus on safety as violent crime numbers rise
The July Fourth holiday was a violent one in the District. From July 4 to July 5, D.C. police reported 11 separate shooting scenes and six homicides.
One of the violent incidents was a mass shooting after a block party that left nine people wounded.