On the Mayor’s Role in Advancing Public Safety

At the Council of D.C.’s July 11 Legislative Meeting, Councilmember Nadeau voted to support Councilmember Brooke Pinto’s Prioritizing Public Safety Amendment Act of 2023, which gave additional authority to judges to take action against the most violent criminals, while enhancing the District’s “Red Flag” law and making other improvements to the proposed legislation.

She called out the Mayor for demanding policy action by the Council when many tools already available to the Mayor are not being used effectively. Below is video from that meeting and the transcript.


Thank you. You just got me all riled up, Chairman. I was going to let it go with a written statement, but here we are.

Earlier this year, Mayor Bowser made a big show of saying that she was going to be sending something down to the Council for consideration. And she said it repeatedly for months while we waited with bated breath to see what this would be. Ultimately, she sent it down in a timeline that was incredibly tight for us. And then insisted we should pass something before recess.

I want to commend Council Member Pinto for her, aplomb and hard work on these issues because she not only held the 12-hour hearing that the Mayor called for, but she also took what she heard and put it on paper and turned it into an emergency (bill) to try to make a difference and to show the Mayor that we could pass something before recess.

But something that was on our terms.

Now I’m out in community just like the rest of you, and I’m hearing the same things about how all of this is the Council’s fault. Now I’ve been on the council for eight years and the Council has changed. People have come and people have gone. But the one thing that has stayed the same in the past eight years is the Mayor. Now this council and the councils that I have been on over the past eight years have been working incredibly hard to move us forward on public safety.

I can’t imagine anyone listening to this discussion believes that if we had not had a Mayor, if we had had a mayor who would fully fund and implement the Near Act, for example, we wouldn’t be in a better position today. If we had a Mayor that was willing to implement the laws on the books instead of coming up with her own programs that – excuse my language – are sort of half-cocked versions of the stuff that we’ve put into statute that aren’t even fully funded… There’s a lot of diversions in this discussion constantly and the factor that links them all together is the Mayor.

We have led with good strong policy. We have not had a good strong partner.

We are not the implementers, but we’ve put a vision out there to be implemented that we can believe in, that our voters and residents believe in. That is based in evidence. That is the direction we should be going – united as one government. And yet here we are year after year fighting for pennies to implement things that should be what we are investing all of our funds in. Fighting over $6 million from the MPD budget that we had to use to restore cuts to victim services. Come on, let’s move on from that and let’s focus on solutions.

We passed this bill today. The Mayor asked us to do something before recess, and we did.

But the Mayor can do stuff any day. She doesn’t need us to pass bills. She can implement the laws on the books. She can push our partners to do their jobs. She can ask MPD why they’re not patrolling equitably across the city, or provide data on what they’re doing, or why the US Attorney is declining two-thirds of the cases. By the way, our locally elected and accountable Attorney General is only declining 26% of his cases, so we know that you can prosecute crimes in the District of Columbia. I’ve gone over time. I think I’ve made my point. But I want to reiterate this Council is united in addressing public safety issues, and we’ll continue to do it in our many iterations.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.


Councilmember Nadeau sent the following letter to the City Administrator and the Director of the Office of Unified Communications on Tuesday to express her deep concern over the 911 dispatch center's ongoing failure to dispatch assistance where it is needed. She called the failures "alarming and unacceptable."
Traffic safety is public safety. Working together with DPW, we are making it harder to be a dangerous driver in D.C.
Over the past year, my Council colleagues and I have been laser-focused on improving public safety in the District. Every Ward 1 resident deserves to feel safe in their home and their neighborhood. I’d like to provide you with this update on my work in this critical area.

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