We Deserve to be Safe

Everyone deserves to be safe in Ward 3.  The recent increase in crime, especially along Connecticut Avenue in Van Ness and Forest Hills, has rightfully led to stress and anxiety among those of us who frequent the corridor.  Ward 3 deserves a response that will get results and not just make headlines.  We need to address the root causes of crime so that we can prevent violence on our streets and in our neighborhoods.

Police should be policing.  Requiring our police to handle mental health crises and traffic enforcement keeps our police from the positive community engagement necessary to solve crimes.  Traffic stops and road safety should be handed over to the Department of Transportation.  And it’s past time that we invest in support services that put behavioral specialists on the front lines of helping people in need, who often become criminals of circumstance. 

In the short term, we need better deterrence.  Better lighting along dark streets in our neighborhoods, greater awareness and participation in the Private Security Camera Rebate Program, and a visible police presence will help.  Most of our violent crime is committed by only a handful of individuals, many of whom have been identified to the police. We need to vigorously prosecute those who commit violent crime to get them off our streets and into the rehabilitation they need. Over the long term, however, we need to address both the structural causes of crime and embrace successful enforcement strategies such as community policing.  As your Councilmember, I will push MPD to comprehensively adopt a community policing model to get police officers out of cars and into positive interactions with the communities they serve.

Beyond community policing, though, we need to extend our restorative justice programs which result in better, more just outcomes for victims. We need data driven techniques to minimize recidivism, especially among at-risk youth. We need to treat gun violence through a public-health lens, which will lead to evidence-based methods of reducing crime and creating better outcomes for our at-risk youth. We need to end the school-to-prison pipeline. And finally, we need to address the primary cause of violent crime in the District: poverty. We need to win the war on poverty, be it through housing assistance, cash transfers, or other innovative methods. I believe that we can make our communities more just, more equitable, and most importantly, safer.