DC Mayor Is ‘Very Concerned’ About City’s Recent Violent Streak
District of Columbia Mayor Muriel Bowser said she is “very concerned” about the 5 percent bump in the homicide rate over last year and she will be working with local police to fix it after an explosion of violence and drug overdoses over the weekend.
Bowser was joined by D.C. Police Chief Cathy Lanier at a Tuesday press conference to speak after a weekend where the city saw 10 people shot, 10 people stabbed and at least 11 overdose on synthetic drugs.
“Any level of violence and certainly homicide, you don’t want to see in the city,” Bowser said.
Lanier said overall violent crime in the city and nonfatal shootings are down, but domestic violence is the most pressing issue. (Related: Violent Incidents Mar Summer Kickoff In The Nation’s Capitol)
“What we really are struggling with is violence in the home,” Lanier said.
A 70-year-old man was charged with murder in one of the incidents that happened over the weekend where four people were stabbed in what police are calling a domestic disturbance.
To combat these domestic incidents, which Lanier said are largely unpredictable and have few prior indicators, the city is instituting summer programs to help keep children and families occupied.
Deputy Mayor Brenda Donald said the city will offer a number of educational and employment opportunities to divert young people from criminal activity and keep them off the streets.
“We’re focused on key police districts where there are more acts of crime and in the past when we have done that we have seen reductions in crime,” she said. “So we’re taking that strategy, we’re amping it up, and we feel really confident that we’re going to be able to deter people from crime, and offer them positive alternatives.”
Some of those positive alternatives include free meals for any person under 18 offered at locations throughout the city, a summer youth employment program accessible to any city youth up to age 24, and grants of up to $10,000 for community service organizations.
Lanier also said she would ramp up efforts to get illegal dirt bikes and ATVs off the roads after a local journalist was gunned down by a man riding a dirt bike last month.
Police have confiscated 35 atvs and dirt bikes in the last 90 days, according to Lanier, but she said it is dangerous for both the police and the public to pursue people riding the dirt bikes.
She said, though, that the police have been getting help from the community to find out where those dirt bikes are being kept and where they are buying gas in order to find them later.
“Our safest option is to impound those vehicles and take them off the street in a safe way, and not to create an additional harm moving forward,” she said.
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