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D.C. Leaders Grapple With Omnibus Get-Tough Anticrime Bill

Amid a sharp increase in violence in Washington, D.C., including more homicides in 2023 than in any year since 1997, local officials are under pressure to show residents that they have ideas for how to lower crime — and fast. Mayor Muriel Bowser and D.C. Council members have crafted an array of public-safety legislation, naming the bills for goals that have proved elusive: “Safer Stronger,” “Accountability and Victim Protection,” “Addressing Crime Trends (ACT) Now.” While each proposal has been trumpeted as a key element in the fight against crime and some have passed on an emergency basis, others have foundered in committees and no bill has emerged as a defining response to a seemingly intractable problem, reports the Washington Post. Michael “Mike” Gill, 56, a former D.C. election official who was shot and critically wounded last week in downtown Washington during an hours-long crime rampage died Saturday.

Brooke Pinto, chairwoman of the council’s public safety committee, has combined parts of 12 bills into an omnibus package that she hopes will serve as D.C.'s comprehensive answer to the crime crisis. The legislation includes some of the most controversial provisions from past proposals — such as creating drug-free zones in which loiterers would be subject to arrest; limiting information available to the public about the D.C. police department; and making it easier to hold some adults and youths in secure detention while they await trial. The bill would restore several transparency-related provisions that were stripped from earlier proposals, but it would keep language that limits public access to certain information about police officers. The bill would create several new gun laws in the District, including the offense of “endangerment with a firearm,” making it a felony to fire a gun in public, a change that was established in emergency legislation last summer. It would also increase punishment for certain charges related to illegally possessing firearms.


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