New Funding for Safer Communities in Ward 1
It’s been a difficult year in the District of Columbia when it comes to violence in our communities. As of October 2019, homicides in the past year were up District-wide from 126 to 136 and in Ward 1 from 9 to 14. Thoughts and prayers are nice, but concrete action is what we all need. Creating a safer place for all of our residents requires coordinated efforts between the Council, the Mayor, and all of our agencies with a presence in the community. For my part, I want to keep you updated on what the Council is doing in response.
From my first day as your Councilmember I have fought for and succeeded in bringing violence prevention resources to Ward 1 – even when it seemed like we were making progress and might not need funding as badly as other parts of the city. I know that funding prevention work is not only needed when we have many violent incidents. We need these investments to sustain safe neighborhoods as well.
As a government and community we are working to take a holistic public health approach to safety. Rather than patching over the problem, we are doing immediate and deep interventions that will ultimately put an end to violence. This is a paradigm shift that has been happening all over the country, as we’ve come to the realization that our approach to criminal justice has torn apart families and communities while not achieving sustainable outcomes. But this paradigm shift is still ongoing; until recently, we haven’t invested enough in these programs to see the results we need.
This month, the new fiscal year started, which means that the Council’s new budget goes into effect. Included in that budget are historic investments and targeted safety measures for the most affected parts of Ward 1:
- In the fiscal year 2020 budget, the DC Council has tripled the amount of the investment in violence prevention and intervention programming, bringing it to more than $10 million.
- Ward 1 will receive double the funding it has in the past, bringing it up to about $1.4 million. Collaborative Solutions for Communities will be the community partner for this grant, with an intensive focus in Columbia Heights and Park View.
- Council action will allow seasoned detectives and sergeants to remain with MPD with special retention incentives.
- MPD will receive a budget increase of $6 million and will be able to properly sustain its workforce.
- 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.
- The Council also recently passed my Extreme Risk Civil Protection Act, our new “red flag” law which reduces gun violence by restricting access to guns by those who are known to be a risk to themselves or others.
These investments complement the immediate response to shootings by MPD and violence interrupters in our community. After shootings, MPD adjusts deployments, which includes a marked and unmarked presence and an emphasis on removing illegal guns from the streets. The Narcotics and Special Investigations Division (NSID) and Gun Recovery Unit continue to be present gathering intelligence and making arrests. Violence interrupters leverage their relationships in the community to reach the root of the issues that lead to violence and provide wrap-around services and support to reduce and eliminate violence.
I know this is an issue that has affected many people closely – most of all the victims of violence. More work remains to be done, and I am fully committed to doing everything I can as a legislator to help keep Ward 1’s communities and families safe. As always, my inbox is open if you ever want to reach out: firstname.lastname@example.org.