WASHINGTON, D.C. – In a Tuesday emergency session, the D.C. Council passed a crisis crime bill by a 12-1 margin. It aims to increase penalties for certain crimes and gives judges more leeway as the city grapples with a sharp increase in violent crimes.
Council of the District of Columbia Chair Phil Mendelson said prior to the overwhelming majority vote, “You can get away with murder in this city,” Fox News reported.
The declarative statement was a notable “about-face” from comments he previously uttered in March, when he suggested that the “perception” of high crime was overshadowing the reality on the ground.
“I know this belies the common belief – and when it comes to crime, how people feel is important – but there is not a crime crisis in Washington, D.C.,” Mendelson said at the time.
D.C. Police data reveals a dramatic increase in overall crime between 2022 and 2023: homicides are up 17%, sex abuse is up 35% and robberies are up by more 50%.
The emergency public safety bill increases penalties for various criminal offenses like carjacking, strangulation, and firing a gun in public. The bill also makes it easier for judges to keep violent criminals in custody while awaiting trial, according to Fox.
The bill’s sponsor, Councilwoman Brooke Pinto, told reporters Monday that D.C. is “in a state of emergency.”
“And like in any emergency, we have to act like it, and we have to act urgently as a government to address the problem that we’re seeing.”