Crime: Massive Crime Bill Up for D.C. Council Vote; Local Reports

Crime in the nation’s capital was a major focus of national headlines last year owing to the city’s spike in carjackings, vehicle thefts, armed robberies of members of Congress, its worst homicide totals since 1997 and  “mass organized thefts” against retailers.

To stem the crisis, Mayor Muriel Bowser and Ward 2 Council member Brooke Pinto combined the city’s emergency and temporary crime bills last week into one massive, overarching 90-page “Secure DC Omnibus” bill to be voted on by the D.C. Council by Jan. 23.

Pinto, who chairs the D.C. Council’s Committee on the Judiciary and Public Safety,  said in a Jan. 10 press release the bill is an “historic public safety legislative package with over 100 interventions that respond to calls from the community to address the unacceptable level of crime and violence undermining safety in the District.” 

“Every day, I hear from residents across all eight wards about the urgent need to address crime in our neighborhoods,” Pinto said. “My Secure DC Omnibus [bill] is our opportunity to turn the tide on crime trends that have overwhelmed our communities. It’s resoundingly clear – from residents across the District, businesses, visitors, and our federal and regional partners – that effective action is needed now.” 

Offering her full support, Mayor Bowser said in a Jan. 12 press release, “We know that driving down crime requires us to send a clear message that if you make our city less safe, if you bring violence to our community, you will be held accountable. I appreciate Council member Pinto’s leadership and partnership on this legislation that includes most of our Safer, Stronger 2.0 legislation and our ACT Now legislation. Passing it will support a system that prioritizes safety and accountability. In 2023, we saw pieces of this legislation move our city in the right direction. Now we can make those provisions permanent and focus on strategies and policies that will continue to make our city safer.”

Per Pinto’s office, the Secure DC Omnibus includes provisions from Councilmember Pinto’s Secure DC Plan, along with many of the proposals from other colleagues and Mayor Bowser’s Safer Stronger and ACT Now bills. The Secure DC Omnibus includes the following initiatives, among others:

Prevention and Ending Cycles of Violence

  • Safe Commercial Corridors: Establish a District-wide grant program to provide funds for commercial corridors to put toward safety-enhancing interventions;
  • Safe Transit Corridors: Establish a pilot program to install “blue light” technology and cameras in transit stations to deter crime;
  • Drug Free Zones: Reinstate MPD’s ability to declare drug-free zones where hotspots of crime and drug activity occur and allow communities to reclaim public space;
  • Prearrest Diversion Taskforce: Establish a task force to develop recommendations to increase diversion, treatment, and accountability for individuals who commit low-level offenses when appropriate;
  • Hospitality Training: Establish a hospitality career training program at DC Jail to improve reentry outcomes;
  • Nutrition at DC Jail: Set minimum nutrition standards for healthy food served at DC Jail.

Accountability for Crime

  • Gun Penalties: Establish new felony offenses for endangerment with a firearm and unlawful discarding of firearms and ammunition;
  • Victim Protection: Establish a new felony offense for strangulation; Enhance protections for senior citizens, persons with disabilities, and transportation workers and passengers;
  • Pretrial Detention: Creates a rebuttable presumption in favor of pretrial detention for violent crimes committed by juveniles and adults; require judges to explain decisions to allow for pretrial release in such cases;
  • Carjacking: Expand the definition of carjacking to improve prosecution;
  • Retail Theft: Establish a new crime for “directing organized retail theft”; lower the threshold for the felony offense of retail theft from $1,000 to $500;
  • Filling Gaps: Permit GPS records to be admissible in court; permit DNA collection earlier in the process for serious offenses to enhance case closure.

Government Coordination and Oversight

  • OUC Transparency: Require the Office of Unified Communications to publicly share data and metrics on 911 call center performance; require updates to the 311 system;
  • Fare Evasion: Ensure civil violations for fare evasion can be enforced;
  • Vehicular Chases: Allow officers to pursue vehicular chases if there is an imminent threat;
  • Police Interactions: Ensure officers are able to safely and appropriately engage with suspects during arrests;
  • Body-Worn Cameras: Permit officers to review body-worn-camera footage in cases not involving a serious use of force;
  • DC Sentencing Commission: Increase Council and Mayoral representation on the Commission with a fairer balance of DC representation:
  • Gun Tracking: Require annual firearm tracing reports to help reduce the flow of illegal weapons into the District;
  • Data on Programs, Diversion, and Sentencing: Require Criminal Justice Coordinating Council to share data on programs, diversion, and sentencing agreements.

Secure DC Omnibus provisions are included from the following bills:

Pinto had to compromise or remove several proposed measures from the omnibus package, however. The bill no longer includes provisions allowing police to randomly stop and/or seize gun-conviction probationers. “I heard concerns from returning citizens [those released from incarceration] who talked about what it would feel like after serving time, always looking over your shoulder [to see if you’re going to] be searched. I heard from advocacy groups … I met with the police, and we were unclear how this could be administered in a way that we could all be confident would not lead to harassment,” Pinto told DCist.

Meanwhile, the DC Open Government Coalition has also called out “three anti-transparency” measures in the omnibus bill including the repeal of a provision in the “police reform act” prohibiting police from “redacting the faces and badge numbers of law enforcement officers from body-worn cameras videos before release to the public,” allowing MPD to deny public access to body-worn camera video of police-involved shootings in which an officer “shoots an animal or negligently discharges a firearm,” and allowing MPD to withhold medical records of an officer’s “use of an employee assistance program, including mental health treatment, substance abuse treatment service, counseling, or therapy.” 

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of D.C. has also criticized the omnibus bill as opening “the door for abuse of power.” 

Local Reports

On Jan. 15, detectives from MPD’s Criminal Investigations Division requested public assistance to “identify a suspect who lit a man on fire in Northwest D.C.” On Jan. 15, at “approximately 3:05 p.m., the suspect poured a liquid on the victim at the intersection of North Capitol Street and P Street Northwest. The suspect then ignited the liquid,” the report said. “The suspect then ran off. The victim was transported to a local hospital for treatment of serious injuries.The suspect was captured by a surveillance camera and can be seen in the photo below:”





























On Jan 13, MPD Second District Commander Tatjana Savoy posted on social media that detectives from MPD’s Second District had arrested a man “in a burglary of an occupied residence.” At approximately 10:17 p.m., Jan. 9, in the 2100 block of Foxhall Road, Northwest,” Savoy wrote, “the suspect forced their way into an occupied residence. Once inside, the suspect was confronted by the homeowner and was arrested by responding officers.” On Jan. 9, 22-year-old “William Wright of Northwest, DC, was arrested and charged with Burglary One.”

On Jan. 13, MPD Chief Pamela A. Smith issued a statement in response to disturbances at the Gaza Ceasefire protests at Lafayette Park. While she said “the right to peacefully protest is one of the cornerstones of our democracy, and the Metropolitan Police Department has long supported those who visit our city to demonstrate safely,” she also said “violence, destructive behavior, and criminal activities” would not be tolerated. “While a majority of today’s demonstration remained peaceful,” she wrote, “there were instances of illegal and destructive behavior in Lafayette Park, including items being thrown at our officers. We are supporting our partners at the United States Park Police as they investigate and hold those found responsible accountable for their actions.” 

Here’s a laundry list of suspected offenses: On Jan. 12, officers from MPD’s Second District’s Crime Suppression Team announced a man was arrested for “retail thefts at two CVS establishments in the Second District. On Jan. 9, “pursuant to a DC Superior Court arrest warrant, officers from the Crime Suppression Team arrested 40-year-old Quinton Antonio Thomas of Northwest, DC. He has been charged with the below “Theft Two offenses,” per the report:

  • Oct. 21, at approximately 4:00 p.m., in the 5000 block of Connecticut Avenue, Northwest
  • Nov. 1, 2023, at approximately 6:35 p.m., in the 5000 block of Connecticut Avenue, Northwest.
  • Nov. 5 at approximately 5:00 p.m., in the 5000 block of Connecticut Avenue, Northwest. 
  • Nov. 18 at approximately 1:35 p.m., in the 4300 block of Connecticut Avenue, Northwest. 
  • Nov. 18, 2023, at approximately 8:35 p.m., in the 4300 block of Connecticut Avenue, Northwest.
  • Nov. 20 at approximately 9:53 a.m., in the 5000 block of Connecticut Avenue, Northwest
  • Nov. 20 at approximately 6:45 p.m., in the 5000 block of Connecticut Avenue, Northwest
  • Nov. 24, at approximately 5:58 p.m., in the 4300 block of Connecticut Avenue, Northwest.
  • Nov. 24, at approximately 8:51 p.m., in the 4300 block of Connecticut Avenue, Northwest
  • Dec. 20, 2023, at approximately 9:29 p.m., in the 4300 block of Connecticut Avenue, Northwest. 

On Jan. 12, MPD announced arrests in recent stolen auto cases in Northwest, including: On Jan 6, 43-year-old Caroll Fletcher, and 47-year-old Jerome Parker, both of Northwest, D.C., for an offense that occurred in the 3500 block of 16th Street, Northwest. And, on Jan. 11, 18-year-old Erick Alvenga, and a 13-year-old juvenile male, both of Northeast, D.C., were arrested for a Theft One (Stolen Auto) offense that occurred in the 6300 block of Chillum Place, Northwest.” Dante Smith, 38, of Northwest, DC, was also arrested for an “Unauthorized Use of a Vehicle offense” that occurred in the Unit block of M Street, Northeast.”

On Jan. 12, detectives from MPD’s Third District requested public assistance in identifying “a man and a woman who robbed a business in the 2200 Block of 18th Street, NW. On Dec.27, at “approximately 8:00 p.m., the suspects forced the employee into the store as an employee was closing the store,” the report said. “The suspects took property then fled the scene. The suspects were captured by surveillance cameras and can be seen in the photos below and in this video:”

On Jan. 12, detectives from MPD’s Carjacking Task Force requested public assistance in identifying the suspects “in an armed carjacking that occurred in the 2200 block of 13th St. NW.  On Dec. 31, at “approximately 12:45 p.m., the victim was sitting in his vehicle when suspects approached him,” the report said. “The suspects brandished a handgun, demanded that the victim exit his vehicle, and then fled the scene in the victim’s vehicle. Two of the suspects were captured by surveillance cameras and can be seen in the photos below:”

On Jan. 11, detectives from MPD’s Second District announced a man was arrested in a “burglary of an occupied residence.” On Jan. 9, at “approximately 10:17 p.m., in the 2100 block of Foxhall Road, Northwest, the suspect forced their way into an occupied residence. Once inside, the suspect was confronted by the homeowner and was arrested by responding officers,” the report said. On Jan. 9, 2024, 22-year-old William Wright of Northwest, DC, was arrested and charged.

On Jan. 10, detectives from MPD’s Fourth District announced a man was arrested for “Armed Carjacking and Theft One (Stolen Auto) offenses” that occurred Jan. 10. “At approximately 3:49 a.m., the suspect took the victim’s vehicle, from where it was parked, in the 1200 block of Longfellow Street, Northwest,” the report said. “The victim’s vehicle has been recovered.” And, at approximately 4:17 a.m., the “suspect approached the victim, who was seated in their vehicle, in the 400 block of Marietta Place, Northwest. Per the report, the “suspect brandished a handgun and demanded the victim’s property and vehicle. The victim complied. The suspect took the victim’s property and fled the scene in the victim’s vehicle. The victim’s vehicle has been recovered.” On Jan. 10, 28-year-old Tony Walker, of no fixed address, was arrested and charged.




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