WASHINGTON - Public safety leaders in D.C. held a panel on Saturday to discuss how to balance accountability and love when it comes to tackling juvenile crime.
During the panel, D.C. Chief of Police Robert Contee, new Attorney General Brian Schwalb, new Deputy Mayor for Public Safety Lindsey Appiah, and community members shared their perspectives on how to make the city safer.
They spoke about the delicate balance of holding juveniles in the justice system accountable, while also helping them by connecting them with services and programs.
"I think we can all agree that we want to see the youth of our city in a better space," said Chief Contee about the topic.
He later added, "young people have to have opportunities, man. And if we don’t have opportunities for them, who’s going to do that? We have to show them the way. Our adults in the city, we have to recognize how talented our young people are, making sure we’re giving them a platform and be creative in that space and do things that are productive."
The other public leaders on the panel also agreed that the problem of juvenile crime is not one they can arrest their way out of.
"We need to help young people to show their life matters, and so do other people’s, that we’re part of a community," said Deputy Mayor Appiah.
Chief Contee said during the panel that the number of arrests among juveniles has declined by about 35 percent since 2019, but noted that the number of first-time arrests among juveniles committing violent acts has gone up.
The officials said some of the challenges the face in tackling the juvenile crime problem is social media, the number of guns on the streets, and the after effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
In terms of solutions, they talked about bolstering community programs, getting an understanding of why a juvenile may be committing a crime, and raising community involvement.