Public Safety and Criminal Justice

Where I Stand

It has been a challenging time here in the District of Columbia, and across the country, when it comes to public safety. As your Councilmember, it is my goal for everyone to feel safe in their own neighborhood. As a mother raising two little ones here in Ward 1, I understand deeply how important it is to ensure we end violent crime in all of our communities across the District. That’s why I have taken action to do so in each budget and through rigorous oversight of our public safety and support services agencies.  

Since my first year on the Council I have fought for dedicated resources to end violent crime in Ward 1, by using every tool we have in government, but also partnering with community leaders and organizations that have proven track records in this area. To be sure, it will take all of us working together to end the violence.  

If you read no further, the key points I hope to impress upon you are: 

  1. The level of violent crime we have here in Ward 1 is unacceptable to me and I will not rest until it subsides 

  1. I continue to fight for every necessary resource here in our Ward, as I have since day 1 

  1. I am supporting both short- and long-term solutions to violent crime 


Restoring Resources for Ward 1 

When I first took office in 2015 I learned that there had been a major disinvestment in violence prevention in our Ward. This was a shock, because the history of our neighborhoods make it clear that we will always need investments in our residents: youth programs, job programs, stable housing, and violence prevention programs.  

I went to work immediately to secure funding for our community, little by little. Over time I was able to bring us from $0 invested in violence prevention in Ward 1 to nearly $1.5 million per year. That’s on top of investments in the Summer Youth Employment Program, our Parks and Recreation programs and the Out-of-School Time funds I helped establish and secure at $20 million per year and that provide tutoring, mentoring and extracurricular activities for our kids outside of school.  

But because of that disinvestment, we’ve had our work cut out for us. Over the years I’ve worked with experts in public safety to better understand what it will take to end violence in our communities. The violent crime we are grappling with now is a result of generations of hurtful policies that perpetuated racism and inequality. In a recent conversation with our police chief, he noted that police are part of the solution, but that it takes many different types of investments in human services, employment opportunities and other services to prevent people from picking up guns. Because those areas have traditionally been underfunded, that’s where I have worked the hardest to close the gaps. 

Taking Action

That's also why I co-introduced and voted for the NEAR Act, a comprehensive criminal justice reform bill that addresses community violence with a public health approach. The NEAR Act Established the Office of Neighborhood Safety and Engagement (ONSE), as well as several other programs that have demonstrated success at ending violence in the neighborhoods they serve. 

So what are we doing?  

  1. Before a violent crime occurs, we invest in individuals whose communities have had a great deal of neighborhood violence, offering a different path and preventing them from picking up a gun in the first place. 

  1. We hire trained personnel with lived experience to mediate conflicts before they become violent. This work is going on 24/7. 

  1. When a violent crime occurs, we work together as a government and a community to identify shooters, prosecute them and recover their weapons so they cannot be used again. 

  1. We ensure that victims receive the support they need to heal, to prevent retaliation and further harm to them, their friends and their families.  

  1. We engage the friends and family members of shooters to prevent them from engaging in conflict 

In Ward 1 we now have two primary programs that do both the short- and long-term work of violence prevention. Our longest standing community partner is Collaborative Solutions for Families. You can read about their work here. They are focused in Park View, Columbia Heights and LeDroit Park. New to Ward 1 in 2022 is the Cure the Streets program run by the Office of the Attorney General, focusing resources in Columbia Heights.  

Much of this work is about funding our public safety priorities and oversight of those funds. But sometimes it’s also about passing new laws. I wrote and secured passage of DC’s new “red flag” gun law that gives police and residents new tools to remove guns if a person presents an immediate threat. I also worked with colleagues to update our laws to get homemade “ghost guns” off the streets.  

I think that it is crucial that the District use a comprehensive public health approach to violence. I’ve worked to direct our investments into people and community resources each budget cycle and introduced legislation to get guns off our streets because the solution is not as simple as arresting more.  MPD’s presence has deterred certain crimes, however, we’ve seen several instances where MPD is present on a block and a person still commits a crime of passion, like a shooting.  We want to hold people who harm our community accountable, AND we also want to achieve long-term results and better public safety outcomes for all residents.  There are several programs and initiatives that are being launched, implemented, and expanded including:  

  • We are expanding the Pathways Program, a transitional employment program working with residents most likely to commit or be a victim of gun violence. We approved funding for a major expansion of the Pathways Program. This is an important investment because research suggests that 80% of all local violence is caused by less than 2% of the population. If we can get people to stop picking up guns, we will have safer neighborhoods.    

  • We have increased the number of violence interrupters in our neighborhoods. Right now, violence interrupters are in certain neighborhoods because the program takes a very targeted approach so that the trained violence interrupters can build meaningful relationships with the communities they serve. I am proud that my office is working with the Office of Neighborhood Safety and Engagement and Cure the Streets. According to the Office of the Attorney General, even though violent crime has increased in the district, it has increased at lower rate in neighborhoods that engage with Cure the Streets. 

 And there are also investments being made in community grants for neighborhood action plans, workforce development programs, youth safety initiatives, trauma-informed mental health services, and recreation opportunities.  

I've compiled a list of Community Safety Resources that gives a sample of organizations that engage in violence intervention, youth outreach, victims' services, and more.  

What I've Done

The latest budget updates:

The Council is about to approve the FY2023 budget, which includes the following investments: 

  • Approves the Executive’s proposal for an additional 347 Metropolitan Police Department sworn officers – including a $14.2 million enhancement to hire 108 new officers, convert 42 cadets, and keep on 17 senior police officers – and the following recruitment and retention incentives: 

    • $500,000 for the Housing Allowance Incentive Program, a 150% 

      increase over the FY22 approved budget, to cover six months of costs 

      associated with temporary housing for new recruits 

    • $1.2 million for the Police Officer Retention Program, a 200% 

      increase over the FY22 approved budget, to subsidize tuition 

      reimbursement and educational incentives 

    • $5.2 million for a new enhancement for recruit hiring bonuses 

    •  $210,000 for a new enhancement for cadet conversion bonuses 

  • Identifies a $1.1 million enhancement for the District’s network of Hospital-Based Violence Intervention Programs (“HVIPs”) through the Office of Victim Services and Justice Grants, including $575,000 in recurring dollars to supplement the HVIPs’ FY23 proposed budget (including $300,000 from the Committee on Government Operations & Facilities) and $500,000 in one-time funding for a new HVIP project to develop, implement and evaluate protocols and training for law enforcement and medical providers to guide their interactions and reduce gun violence 

  • Funds the Office of the Attorney General’s Cure the Streets violence intervention program at $11.3 million, which will support ten sites across the District.

  • Approves $9.7 million for new violence interrupters, for a total of $13.8 million for violence intervention contracts in 25 priority communities across the District.

  • Approves $7.5 million for the Pathways Program – currently in its 10th cohort – to serve 200 residents at risk of committing or being victims of gun violence; Pathways is a transitional employment program that works to decrease participants’ involvement in the criminal justice system and improve their employment, education, and training outcomes.

  • Approves funding for 20 “life coaches” to support individuals identified in the Criminal Justice Coordinating Council and National Institute for Criminal Justice Reform’s Gun Violence Problem Analysis as being at high risk of committing gun violence, supplemented by an additional $475,000 in one-time local funds identified by the Committee for client incentives.

Other recent updates: 

  • In 2022 we brought in the Office of Attorney General's "Cure the Streets" violence prevention program to Columbia Heights in Ward 1. 

  • In the fiscal year 2020 budget, the DC Council tripled the amount of the investment in violence prevention and intervention programming, bringing it to more than $10 million. 

  • The incredibly successful Pathways program will grow by one third. Pathways identifies young men at risk of violence and puts them through an intensive violence prevention program that ends with employment.

  • The Council increased funding for returning citizens and reentry services by $1 million to prevent recidivism and improve public safety.

  • In the fiscal year 2021 budget, I supported an allocation of $2.25M for violence prevention and intervention contracts for the Office of Neighborhood Safety and Engagement.

  • The fiscal year 2021 budget also allocates $13.9M for the Access to Justice grants program, which funds legal services for domestic violence survivors, seniors, consumers, individuals with disabilities, individuals experiencing homelessness and housing instability, and residents with criminal records seeking expungement.

My Legislative Record on Public Safety and Other Work:

Yearly Funding Secured for Violence Prevention Activities in Ward 1

$ 1500000
The amount my office has secured for violence prevention activities in Ward 1.
  • Voted for a budget that increased funding for the body-worn camera rollout
  • Supported the Private Security Camera Rebate and Voucher Program.
  • Convene regular public safety walks, and a major annual public safety event that brings together community members and District agencies that offer substance abuse and mental health interventions to walk a neighborhood and address trouble spots