AMAC Exclusive – By Andrew Abbott
A shocking daytime shooting of an eight months pregnant woman in Washington, D.C., this weekend served as another grim reminder of how bad the murder epidemic has become in the nation’s capital. The incident occurred just days after the D.C. police union announced that the city had already crossed 100 homicides in 2023 – the earliest date the city has reached that figure since 2003 and more evidence of the tragic lasting consequences of the “Defund the Police” movement.
According to a press release from the police union, on average over the past ten years D.C. did not hit 100 murders until October 25. Yet that date has moved up dramatically since 2020. The 100th D.C. homicide was recorded on June 24 in 2022 and on July 10 in 2021.
In total, murders are up 15 percent this year in D.C. over last year, and the city is on pace to record over 200 homicides for the third straight year. In some particularly hard-hit parts of the city, the murder rate has spiked more than 100 percent over last year.
Other crime is also up. The police union reported that robberies citywide have spiked 34 percent this year, while carjackings – which already shattered records in 2021 and 2022 – are up another 57 percent in 2023.
The rise in crime hasn’t been confined to traditionally dangerous parts of the city. In February, Minnesota Rep. Angie Craig was attacked in the elevator of her upscale D.C. apartment. A few weeks later, a staffer of Kentucky Senator Rand Paul was stabbed just blocks away.
The D.C. police union has been raising the alarm for years that law enforcement in the nation’s capital is at a breaking point due to a slate of anti-police policies from city hall. Starting in June 2020, the D.C. City Council followed dozens of other liberal city governments in passing a series of laws they promoted as “police reforms” that both stripped funding from departments and severely hampered the ability of police to do their jobs.
Using emergency powers, the council declared that any use of neck restraints, such as chokeholds, “constitutes the use of lethal and excessive force.” They also required the DCPD to release body camera footage and the names of any officers involved in incidents requiring “serious use of force” within 72 hours of the altercation – thus subjecting officers and their families to harassment and threats before a proper investigation can be conducted.
The D.C. City Council and Mayor Muriel Bowser also cut millions from the police budget, resulting in massive funding shortfalls across a number of crime deterrence and prevention programs.
Unsurprisingly, many D.C. cops have chosen to leave the force. The DCPD’s 3,200 sworn officers are the lowest number in more than 50 years, even as the city’s population recently swelled to over 710,000 people.
Since 2020, more than 1,200 officers have either retired or resigned. D.C. Police Chief Robert Contee now says it could take more than a decade to get the department back to full strength. DCPD is so desperate for new hires that they’re offering $20,000 to police in other cities to fill their ranks, while the hiring bonus for new recruits is up to $25,000.
Despite these alarming developments, the city council seems determined to double down on the same failed policies. Earlier this year, the council overrode the veto of Mayor Bowser to pass a radical bill slashing prison sentences for violent offenders and virtually stopping the prosecution of many “minor” crimes like robbery and carjacking.
Thankfully for crime-weary D.C. residents, the newly elected Republican majority in the U.S. House of Representatives introduced and passed a resolution overturning the law (the federal government retains the right to veto any new D.C. law with a disapproval resolution). In an uncommon sign of bipartisanship in a deeply divided D.C., a few Democrats joined with Republicans in the Senate to also pass the resolution, and President Joe Biden signed it – a major defeat for the D.C. City Council and a dramatic rebuke of the far-left “criminal justice reform” movement (even if Biden and congressional Democrats are still no friend to most law-and-order policies).
Nonetheless, D.C., like so many other cities, is still dealing with the consequences of the “Defund the Police” movement and the extremism of soft-on-crime Democrat policies. Unless there is a major change in leadership – a prospect that seems highly unlikely in a city where over 92 percent of voters cast their ballots for Joe Biden in 2020 – the nation’s capital will continue to symbolize the crime problem that goes hand-in-hand with liberal governance.
Andrew Abbott is the pen name of a writer and public affairs consultant with over a decade of experience in DC at the intersection of politics and culture.
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