'We should not let criminals take over our neighborhoods': Mayor Bowser discusses DC crime

Mayor Muriel Bowser, her public safety team along with Advisory Neighborhood Commissioners hosted a meeting Saturday morning—talking about crime trends, and ways to build a safer D.C.

"We should not let criminals take over our neighborhoods," said Mayor Muriel Bowser.

The mayor and Washington lawmakers were recently sent a letter by several business groups, in which they expressed their frustration over the alarming increase in crime across the city.


The letter comes before the D.C. Council is set to take a final vote on Tuesday regarding a sweeping public safety bill. The proposed bill is in response to last year's surge in homicides and gun violence.

"The guns don’t shoot themselves. So, what we have been doing is working with the people of promise and just this month we received a list of drivers of gun violence in our communities, so we will be focused very diligently on making communication and contact with those folks," said Pamela Smith, Chief of the Metropolitan Police Department.  

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During the meeting, the mayor and police chief —Pamela Smith, talked about crime reduction initiatives, including police recruitment, community safety walks, CCTV camera expansion and enforcing juvenile curfew— to name a few. 

"We don’t want to lock up our kids —but we might have to if they are using guns alright. It is just that simple. Because not only are they using guns— they are victims of guns…. with the brazenness of some of these crimes and the number of guns out there, I am going to speak candidly -I fear that more kids are going to get killed in the commission of crimes," Bowser said.

Some ANC commissioners during the Saturday meeting also brought up concerns that referred to crimes like shoplifting and if the city would implement enhanced penalties for that.

"There is a retail thrift component to secure D.C., and it is about organized retail theft. For too long, people have considered this shoplifting a victimless crime, but it’s not just one or two people walking in, it is what we think is a part of an organized ring," Bowser explained.

Meanwhile, when it comes to numbers, D.C. witnessed the most homicides in 25 years last year —with 274 deaths. Violent crime overall shot up 39%, and carjackings nearly doubled. 

The mayor stated that this year so far, violent crime is down — compared to the same time last year.

"We do need to see significantly more decreases in crime and that’s what our message is. I think year over year to date, violent crime is down 10 percent, homicide is down 30 percent, assault with dangerous weapons almost down 30 percent, and we also see them trending in the right direction with robberies and carjackings," she said.