WASHINGTON - D.C. Police Chief Robert Contee and Mayor Muriel Bowser on Wednesday joined forces with their Prince George’s County counterparts to announce an expansion of the joint carjacking task force.
The collaborative strategy is the latest effort by D.C. Police in their multi-jurisdictional fight against the explosion of carjackings during the pandemic.
According to police, many of the recent carjacking arrests involve juveniles.
Both police chiefs noted that the number of juveniles arrested for carjacking in 2021 has outpaced the number of adults arrested for the same crime: two to one.
The District’s leaders updated their figures on Wednesday, sharing statistics that showed 456 carjackings in 2021 and 132 arrests. More than half of those arrests, 85 to be exact, were identified as juveniles.
Prince George’s County arrests are almost as high as the District's.
Chief Malik Aziz said P.G. County saw 393 carjackings in 2021. More than half, 86 of those arrests, were identified as juveniles.
No data was immediately shared on how many of those arrests include repeat juvenile offenders.
"Playtime is over. This is not a video game. This is not a game where we’re playing chicken, and we’re not going to figure out what it is we need to do here. The mayor and the county executive have already stated, we got to come together and everybody, this is not a spectator sport, everybody has a responsibility here," said D.C. Police Chief Robert Contee. "You look at the number of people being arrested in the District of Columbia and also being arrested in Prince George’s County, it’s the same kids! But you can’t go into a D.C. court or a Prince George’s County court and talk about what they did in the other district. There should be -- fundamentally there’s a problem with that."
Mayor Bowser said she is not pointing fingers after she and the D.C. Attorney General went back-and-forth on Twitter last week. D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine accused Bowser of blaming prosecutors and blaming the courts, calling Mayor Bowser's response a "lack of leadership."
One of the Mayor's opponents in the 2022 mayoral election, Councilmember Robert White Jr, released a public safety plan accusing Mayor Muriel Bowser of not doing enough to prevent crime.
The Mayor responded by pointing to a $59 million dollar initiative created this past summer to help reduce gun violence.
"My election is going to be hinged on our record for the last seven years and that we’ve done exactly what we’ve said we’d do," Mayor Bowser told FOX 5. "That we stuck together through a very tough two years. And our public safety ecosystem has been impacted, but D.C. residents want to make sure they’re going shoulder-to-shoulder with a battle-tested leader that has a plan."
Chief Contee said the police department is looking at embedding an officer on the Prince George’s County side of operations and adding more District detectives to the joint carjacking task force. The Chief also said the D.C. Police Department will be making juvenile arrest information more public, including where those cases go.
It’s not clear how this information will be presented or when it will begin to be shared.