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Clampdown on crime

POLITICS | Washington, D.C., steps up police enforcement after a spike in homicides and car theft

Muriel Bowser Susan Walsh / AP

Clampdown on crime
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DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA Mayor Muriel Bowser signed a crime-bill omnibus on March 11 designed to combat a crime wave in the nation’s capital. The Secure D.C. Act includes 100 provisions that strengthen gun penalties, lower first-degree theft thresholds, establish drug-free zones, establish career training programs in jails, and even ban masks in certain settings.

“Secure D.C. will help us rebalance that public safety ecosystem that has changed over the last 10 years,” Bowser said.

The measure passed the D.C. Council almost unanimously after Councilmember Brooke Pinto, a Democrat, worked on it for over a year. District police data show violent crime spiked 39 percent in 2023. The year saw 274 murders—a 20-year record. Car thefts increased 82 percent after viral TikTok videos taught users to hot-wire vehicles, and a no-chase policy has prevented authorities from pursuing car thieves within district limits.

However, opponents of the bill worried that it focuses too much on policing and not enough on root causes of crime. The district has experienced an increase in juvenile crime, and underfunded school systems report roughly 50 percent truancy rates. At hearings, critics said the reforms would expand the potential for police brutality and disproportionately affect black people. Another controversial provision allows police to detain suspects longer before trial and to collect DNA samples before suspects are convicted of a crime.

The bill heads to Congress—which has jurisdiction over D.C.—for final approval, although several components are effective immediately.

Photo illustration by Rachel Beatty

Unity party ticket?

Roughly 800 delegates convened at a virtual meeting on March 8 and voted to advance a unity ticket for the presidential election. But the group, called No Labels, has yet to announce its candidate.

No Labels is still not officially a political party, so its donor and member lists are private. Recent polls have found that the shares of Americans who either don’t want Joe Biden to win reelection or don’t want Donald Trump to win surpass 60 ­percent. No Labels claims this makes the perfect political environment to give a third-party candidate a chance at success.

On March 14, national convention chair Mike Rawlings announced a 12-member “Country Over Party” ­committee to vet candidates. If the ­committee can find two candidates, it will hold a No Labels nominating ­convention later in the spring. —C.L.

Carolina Lumetta

Carolina is a WORLD reporter and a graduate of the World Journalism Institute and Wheaton College. She resides in Washington, D.C.



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