June 27, 2023 | Press Release

Remarks on the Safer Stronger Legislation


Councilmember Nadeau made these opening remarks on the Mayor's proposed Safer Stronger Amendment Act of 2023 before the Committee on Judiciary and Public Safety.

All of us on the Council, in Mayor’s Office, in the Metropolitan Police Department and other agencies of government are working to improve public safety.

All of us.

Sometimes, we differ in how to improve public safety.

My approach has always been a comprehensive one; no one tool alone is going to reduce crime. The solution is a mix of short-term immediate interventions and longer-term measures.

Most of us agree there is no silver bullet. Some people talk about police staffing and the magic number of police that are needed to keep us safe. Some talk about tougher sentences and being tougher-on-crime. But we know that no amount of police alone and longer sentences will prevent crime, especially violent crime.  

Policing is an important part of improving public safety, but it's not the only avenue we must pursue. Our communities also need job opportunities, better education, stable housing, healthcare access, substance abuse counseling and services for both youth and adults. We need prevention and intervention programs to help divert people from making a choice that may change their life and the lives of others forever. 

It’s why in the most recent budget, I funded $800K for more violence interrupters; $250K for more safety ambassadors in Adams Morgan; funding for cultural competency training for first responders around LGBTQ affairs; $405K for the Domestic Violence Training and Technical Assistance Program. And other programs that lift residents up through social services.

I’m more interested in solutions that work than political rhetoric. 

The policies of the past cannot keep coming back to the forefront of our public safety conversation. And I thank all the advocates and residents lined up today to push back on this outdated narrative.  

We have decades of research showing longer sentences do not deter general or specific-based crimes. We have social science evidence showing aggrieved people ready to use a gun in retribution do not stop to consider the difference between 10 years or 15 years in prison. The policy goals of this bill are simplistic, unserious and performative. They’ve been tried in the 80s, 90s, and 2000s, and they didn’t work.  

Social scientists have research which informs us that putting a juvenile in jail – even for one night – increases their likelihood of committing another crime. Hardly the outcome anyone wants. And yet one of the policy goals of this legislation would be to allow young people to be detained even for non-violent crimes such as theft. 

So, this bill would endanger a young person’s entire future – socially and economically – in order to do what? That’s a question I have for the Deputy Mayor of Public Safety today. 

Additionally, we should be talking about the implementation of the RCCA. It brought consistency and fairness to the 100-year-old criminal code.  

Needless to say, I have serious concerns about the Mayor’s proposal. I am not interested in policies that further harm individuals and tear communities apart.  

I look forward to hearing from our public witnesses and hearing from our government witness whether the policy goals of this bill are effective.