Editorial: Doing the Safety Dance

The Criminal Code Brouhaha Is an Opportunity to Do Better 

The District’s new criminal code bill is in limbo, after D.C. Council Chair Phil Mendelson pulled the legislation out of consideration, hoping to tone down Congressional criticism of it.  

 Still, he said: “We have to revise the criminal code. Our criminal code is one of the worst in the country. … And our options are better by pulling it.”  

 We agree — and also concur with Mayor Muriel Bowser’s and Police Chief Robert Contee’s criticisms of the proposed code. Bowser vetoed the bill.  

 And still, Bowser and Contee gathered — yet again — on a city street corner to condemn the rampant criminality pervasively degrading the lives of all Washingtonians. The mayor said the obvious: “We know that this neighborhood has been particularly hard hit with burglaries and other crimes in the recent days and weeks. While we know that violent crime is down since last year, the amount of violent crime remains very unsettling to neighbors.”  

 It’s all about public safety. Crime and the perception of crime trump everything — inflation, education, environment, etc. What could be a more basic civil right than to pursue our liberties free from fear? 

The proposed D.C. code provisions got President Biden’s attention and he said he would not veto a Congressional disapproval of it. Handwringing and self-serving opinions predictably followed.  

But it’s time to get real — and get to work. Let’s fix those few provisions in the code that are the sticking points — and fix it together.  

Let’s drop the attitude and hush the ideology. It’s time to be problem-solvers for all the people. We just might wind up with a safer — and better — nation’s capital.  





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