Public Safety and Criminal Justice
Where I Stand
Everyone deserves to live in a community where they feel safe. I pledge to use my role as your Councilmember to support effective tools to end community violence. In doing so, I don’t want to govern from a place of fear—rather, my work focuses on finding proactive solutions for oversight, enforcement, and enhancement of services so that we can use all the tools we have at our disposal.
Washington, DC has more police per capita than any other city in the country. The violent crime we are grappling with now is a result of generations of hurtful policies that perpetuated racism and inequality. We will not solve our problems now by doubling down on those policies.
That's why I co-introduced and voted for the NEAR Act, a comprehensive criminal justice reform bill that addresses community violence with a public health approach. The NEAR Act is now fully funded and I continue to track its implementation closely. A summary of the provisions of the NEAR Act and their implementation status was recently released. It includes:
- Establishment of the Office of Neighborhood Safety and Engagement (ONSE)
- Establishment of the Office of Violence Prevention and Health Equity
- New standards for reporting data on Stop and Frisk and Uses of Force
- Arrest diversion for those with mental health needs
I’m also fighting to reduce gun violence. I wrote and secured passage of DC’s new “red flag” gun law that gives police and residents new tools to remove guns if a person presents an immediate threat. As a woman, I also know what it’s like to feel unsafe on the streets due to street harassment. That’s why I pushed for the Council’s first ever hearing on the issue and authored and secured passage of a new law to target and eradicate street harassment through education and culture change.
From my first day as your Councilmember I have fought for and succeeded in bringing violence prevention resources to Ward 1. 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.
What I've Done
The latest budget updates:
In the fiscal year 2020 budget, the DC Council tripled the amount of the investment in violence prevention and intervention programming, bringing it to more than $10 million.
Ward 1 is receiving 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.
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.
In the fiscal year 2021 budget, I supported an allocation of $2.25M for violence prevention and intervention contracts for the Office of Neighborhood Safety and Engagement.
The fiscal year 2021 budget also allocates $13.9M for the Access to Justice grants program, which funds legal services for domestic violence survivors, seniors, consumers, individuals with disabilities, individuals experiencing homelessness and housing instability, and residents with criminal records seeking expungement.
Authored and introduced the “Internationally Banned Chemical Weapon Prohibition Amendment Act of 2020”, which would prohibit the use of chemical irritants at First Amendment assemblies. Portions of this legislation were incorporated into the “Comprehensive Policing and Justice Reform Emergency Second Amendment Act of 2020”.
Co-introduced and passed the “Comprehensive Policing and Justice Reform Emergency Second Amendment Act of 2020”, which aims to improve police accountability and transparency, and restore the ability to vote to individuals incarcerated for felonies who are in the Department of Corrections’ care but the Bureau of Prison’s ’s legal custody (i.e. those who are back from BOP temporarily on appeal or other motions), among other things.
Co-introduced the “Temporary Protection Order Firearm Relinquishment Amendment Act of 2019”, which requires that an individual subject to a temporary protection order (TPO) to relinquish his/her firearm and ammunition and be unable to purchase any while subject to the TPO.
Co-introduced the “Restore the Vote Amendment Act of 2019”, which expands rights to residents incarcerated for felony convictions.
Co-introduced the “Marijuana Legalization and Regulation Act of 2019”, which legalizes the possession, consumption, display, purchasing, and transporting of marijuana and marijuana-infused products, not in public, for personal use for persons over the age of 21.
- Introduced, passed and funded the Street Harassment Prevention Act of 2017. The bill:
- Officially defines street harassment
- Creates an advisory committee to develop policies, guidelines and procedures to educate District employees to identify and address street harassment
- Administers funding for a street harassment awareness programs aimed at areas that are high risk
Conducts a survey to collect data to better understand the pervasiveness of street harassment in the District
- Officially defines street harassment
- Personally participated in the Office of Human Rights' Street Harassment Working Group
Introduced and passed the Extreme Risk Civil Protection Act, which reduces gun violence in the District by giving residents and police more tools to reduce access to firearms by those who are a risk to themselves or others.
Introduced the Alimony Justice for Injured Spouses Amendment Act of 2018 or "Elaine's Law" to protect spouses from having to pay alimony, legal fees and other spousal support to their abusers in divorce proceedings.
Co-introduced the NEAR Act, a comprehensive criminal justice reform bill that seeks to use public health approaches to prevent violence and reduce incarceration. I continue to push for full implementation (see ‘Where I Stand’)
Funding Secured for Gang Violence Prevention Activities in Ward 1$ 250000
- Voted for a budget that increased funding for the body-worn camera rollout
- Supported the Private Security Camera Rebate and Voucher Program.
- Convene regular public safety walks, and a major annual public safety event that brings together community members and District agencies that offer substance abuse and mental health interventions to walk a neighborhood and address trouble spots