After experiencing years of rising crime, Washington, D.C. Democrats appear to have discovered that going soft on criminals in the name of “social justice” isn’t such a good idea.
On Monday, Mayor Muriel Bowser, a Democrat, introduced legislation overturning several so-called “police reform” measures the city implemented in response to the May 2020 death of George Floyd.
According to DCist, the Addressing Crime Trends (ACT) Now Act would not only walk back “restrictions to use-of-force, vehicular pursuits, and body-worn camera footage requirements,” it would also implement new measures designed to crack down on crime. Among these are provisions creating “new penalties for organized retail theft, allow[ing] the police chief to declare certain areas ‘drug-free zones,'” and making it once again “illegal to wear a mask for committing a crime.”
Bowser’s push for increased policing appears to be in response to the skyrocketing number of homicides and other crimes recorded throughout the nation’s capital. Last month, The Washington Post reported that D.C. recorded its 200th homicide with three months left in 2023, marking the first time the city has documented more than 200 homicides before October since 1997. The number of homicides throughout D.C. had “generally trended downward, staying below 200 from 2004 to 2020,” but picked back up again in 2021 with 226 killings.
It’s also worth mentioning that D.C. boasted a higher violent crime rate than every state in the country last year, according to data compiled by Statista.
The introduction of the ACT Now Act is a tacit admission by Bowser and D.C. Democrats that the so-called “police reforms” the city passed during 2020’s “summer of rage” have caused more harm than good. Passed via emergency approval in 2020 and further enshrined into law late last year, the legislative measures effectively “banned neck restraints, limited the use of tear gas, and required the public release of body-worn camera footage after police shootings and other use-of-force incidents.” The law additionally developed “a database of police disciplinary files that will be eligible for open-records requests” starting Dec. 31, 2024, and prohibited discipline from being a part of “the D.C. Police Union’s collective bargaining process.”
According to DCist, the latter provision makes it “easier for officers to be fired” for alleged wrongdoing.
Upon the legislation’s passage last year, At-Large Councilman Robert White baselessly claimed the bill “doesn’t detract from public safety” but actually “makes us safer.” Meanwhile, Gregg Pemberton, the chair of D.C.’s police union, lamented the council’s passage of the measure as “mind boggling” and noted the district’s increasing homicide numbers.
“We are about to have our third year in a row of 200-plus homicides, robberies and carjackings are out of control, and the Council seems laser focused on driving good officers out of the department,” Pemberton said.
Pemberton has testified on Capitol Hill on numerous occasions discussing how the aforementioned “reforms” have, as DCist admitted, “hamstrung the [D.C. police] department’s ability to effectively carry out their work.”
The district’s legal system has also made officers’ jobs more difficult by refusing to prosecute many lawbreakers. In 2022, the Biden-nominated D.C. U.S. attorney’s office declined to “prosecute 67 percent of those arrested by police officers in cases that would have been tried in D.C. Superior Court.” That statistic is nearly double the percentage from 2015 (35 percent).