Crime Report: Congress Targets ‘Soft on Crime’ D.C.; Local Reports

“We’re grateful to have you here,” the Chairman of the House Subcommittee on Crime and Federal Government Surveillance, Rep. Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.) said in his opening statement…. before raking D.C. over the coals for being “soft on crime.” 

In their Oct. 12 Congressional hearing, the Republican majority in the House Judiciary subcommittee had plenty of ammunition to lambaste, once again, the D.C. Council and especially the U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia, Matthew Graves – an appointee of President Biden’s. Not only did the D.C. Council pass measures hampering police efforts and cutting police-on-the-beat in the wake of George Floyd’s 2020 murder and subsequent protests, but the crime prosecution rate in the District has dropped precipitously since Biden appointed Graves as the U.S. Attorney for the District, Biggs argued.

The crime we are witnessing just a few blocks from this building [the U.S. Capitol] is unprecedented,” Biggs launched in. “No section of the city can be considered safe anymore. The man who’s in charge of prosecuting the criminals has abandoned his responsibilities. That’s Matthew Graves, U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia….” 

“In 2021, the U.S. Attorney’s office in the District of Columbia opted against prosecuting 65 percent of arrests presented in the District,” Biggs continued. “To give context, out of the 15,315 arrests made in D.C., 10, 261 did not lead to prosecution. In comparison, in 2015 [the U.S. Attorney for the District’s Office] only declined to prosecute 35 percent of cases which suggests that the office under Graves’ leadership is failing to prosecute crimes and protect the public… a complete reversal that’s had a catastrophic impact on public safety.”

“Violent crime rates in Washington D.C. have seen a significant spike this year,” Biggs drilled down. “Just last week the District surpassed 200 homicides, the quickest the District has hit this mark at this point in the year this century. As of October 3, 2023 violent crime is up 38 percent from the same time last year. For example, as of October 4, 2023, MPD data shows 750 reported carjackings [in] which an alarming 75 percent involved weapons. However, there have only been 113 arrests for carjackings this year, with juveniles responsible for an astonishing 65 percent of those carjackings.”

While the subcommittee’s hearing was overtly partisan in nature – as the Republican party has focused particularly on high crime rates in “Democrat-run cities” – Democratic witnesses at the hearing conceded that D.C. is indeed contending with a crime crisis and that more needs to be done. 

Witnesses in the hearing included Gregg Pemberton, head of the D.C. Police Union, Lindsey Appiah, Deputy Mayor of Public Safety and Justice, several conservative think-tank specialists and vivid testimonials from individual violent crime victims from the District who recounted not only the trauma of the crime itself but the subsequent pain of watching the offenders receive relatively light sentences for their crimes.

Appiah, Mayor Bowser’s appointee as Deputy Mayor for Public Safety and Justice, acknowledged that the word “crisis” is apt in describing the present crime problem in the District. “Oxford defines a crisis as a time of intense difficulty, trouble or danger. So I would say that we find ourselves in an intense time of trouble or danger, so I would say there is a crisis,” she testified. According to DCist, she “suggested the District had gone too far with some of [its] legislation…”

Even D.C. Council Chair Phil Mendelson (D) acknowledged that he was “concerned about the increase in violent crime” in the District. D.C. Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton (D) focused on criticizing the hearings as they impinged on D.C.’s Home Rule. Other Democrats called the hearings a “political stunt.” 

Ward 2 Council member Brooke Pinto (D), Chair of the D.C. Council’s Committee on Public Safety and the Judiciary, called on Congress to “assist us in our goal to improve safety by supporting common sense gun control legislation, filling critical judicial vacancies in our D.C. Courts, increasing staffing at the U.S. attorney’s office, and allowing the District government to effectively represent the interests of our residents and visitors.” 

Speaking of Ward 2 Council Member Pinto…

As Chair of the D.C. Council’s Committee on Public Safety and the Judiciary, Pinto has taken on crime suppression as a highest priority. “I will conduct public safety walks in all eight wards with Advisory Neighborhood Commissioners, MPD, and other community organizations to discuss your neighborhood-specific public safety needs,” she announced. “I invite you to join the Ward 2 public safety walk on Tuesday, Oct. 17 at 5-6 p.m. You can RSVP here and see the full schedule of safety walks below.” The walk begins at the Kennedy Recreation Center, 1401 7th St. NW. 

Pinto also held a roundtable on the nomination of Pamela Smith to be Chief of the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) and “discussed the need for a whole-government to improve public safety.” In addition, she joined the DC Chamber of Commerce and Deputy Mayor Lindsey Appiah to “discuss targeted and urgent strategies to improve public safety in the District.”

The Washington Post also cited Pinto for her efforts to keep in place her emergency anti-crime legislation, set to expire Oct. 18. “On Monday, [Pinto] unveiled a comprehensive package of crime-fighting legislation for the council to consider, drafted with input from police and prosecutors” the Post said in an editorial. “We must address the gaps in our legal system,” Pinto said.

Pinto has also proposed a bill in the D.C. Council to take aim at D.C. Metro fare evaders. “This bill is seeking to give teeth to what civil enforcement means. We have a city of laws,” she said. 

Operation Trident Nabs 48 Fugitives

On Oct. 5, MPD announced a three-day “fugitive apprehension operation” conducted by MPD, the U.S. Marshals Service, the FBI Washington Field Office and Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency (CSOSA) resulted in the “apprehension of 48 fugitives and the recovery of three firearms.”

The operation, dubbed “Operation Trident” targeted “violent offenders with outstanding warrants [many of whom] were on supervised release or probation for other offenses.” 

“Violent crime within the District is predominantly driven by a small number of individuals,” said Acting Chief Pamela A. Smith. “This week’s operation was a significant step towards combating this violence and bringing peace back to our neighborhoods.”

Of the 48 arrests, there were 96 total charges, 72 of these charges were warrants closed and 24 were additional charges,” MPD said. “Of the warrants, 19 were for Failure to Appear, 33 Bench Warrants, nine Fugitive from Justice, two Federal Warrants, seven Parole Violations, two Probation Violations, and three Firearm Recoveries. Some arrestees were charged with multiple counts for active warrants.”

Weekly Firearm Recoveries 

In their “Weekly Firearm Recoveries” Report for Oct. 2-9, MPD announced that 65 firearms were taken off the streets. Of the 36 arrestees named in the report 14 are 21-years-old or younger. Among those, were 2 twenty-one-year-olds, 3 twenty-year-olds, 1 nineteen-year-old, 3 eighteen-year-olds, 1 sixteen-year-old, 1 fifteen-year-old, and 2 fourteen-year-olds.

One listing capturing the problem of youth gun violence in Northwest D.C. reads, “a Beretta APX 9mm caliber handgun and a 9mm caliber “Ghost Gun” handgun were recovered in the 1300 block of Irving Street, Northwest. The following people were arrested: 15-year-old male juvenile, of Northwest, D.C., and 14-year-old male juvenile, of Southeast, D.C., for “Carrying a Pistol without a License, Possession of an Unregistered Firearm, Possession of Unregistered Ammunition, Tampering of GPS Device, and National Firearms Act.”

Local Crime Reports

On Oct 14, MPD announced arrests in recent “Unauthorized Use of a Vehicle Offenses” in the District. In Northwest, the include:

Saturday, October 7, 2023

  • A 14-year-old juvenile male, a 13-year-old juvenile male, and a 15-year-old juvenile male, all of Northwest, D.C., arrested in the 400 block of Emerson Street, Northwest. 

Monday, October 9, 2023

  • 32-year-old Juanita Williams of Northwest, D.C., arrested in the 1400 block of 3rd Street, Northwest. 

Tuesday, October 10, 2023

  • 19-year-old Jayden Hall and a 17-year-old juvenile male, both of Fort Washington, MD, arrested in the 1600 block of 3rd Street, Northwest. 

On Oct. 12, detectives from MPD’s Fourth District requested public assistance in the search for a “man who burglarized a business” in the 7300 block of Georgia Ave. NW. At “approximately 1:16 a.m.,” Oct. 9, the suspect “smashed a door window and entered a business, [then] jumped over the counter and took money from the register” before “fleeing the scene.” According to an MPD press release, “The suspect was captured by a surveillance camera and can be seen in the photo below and in this video:











On Tuesday, Oct. 10, detectives from MPD’s Second District requested public assistance in the search for a “man who burglarized a restaurant” in the 2000 block of Florida Ave. NW.  “On Saturday, Sept. 16, at approximately 6:02 a.m., the suspect broke through a front window and entered a restaurant. The suspect took money then fled the scene,” MPD reported. The suspect was “captured by surveillance cameras and can be seen in this video:”

On Oct. 9, detectives from MPD’s Homicide Branch announced an investigation into a “shooting that killed a man in Northwest D.C.” On Oct. 7, “at approximately 1:25 p.m., Fourth District officers responded to the 5500 block of 7th Street NW for the report of a shooting,” MPD said. “Upon arrival, officers located a man with gunshot wound injuries. He died at the scene. The victim was identified as 36-year-old Alonzo Jessie Atkins, of Northwest, D.C.”




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