Frustrated DC police chief wants more done to target repeat gun offenders

Police Chief Peter Newsham tweeted statistics on Tuesday showing the reduction in D.C. crime compared to this time last year. (AP/Alex Brandon)
As the number of victims climbed during a week of murders that left eight people dead in the District, the city’s police chief expressed frustration that more isn’t being done to deal with repeat gun offenders.

“Whenever you go to that many homicide scenes in a couple of days, it affects you personally and emotionally,” Police Chief Peter Newsham said on Friday, even before a deadly Saturday night that included shootings in five locations across the city.

“We need collectively to look at what we’re doing with gun offenders in our city,” Newsham said.

About 70% of the people arrested with guns in D.C. have had prior arrests for firearm-related offenses. In 2018, nearly half the people arrested for homicide had prior gun arrests.

“It’s very disturbing to me to see people who we know are potentially going to be involved in violent behavior and we’re not appropriately dealing with them when we get them the first time,” Newsham said.

He wants more to be done to make sure gun offenders are being held accountable.

“Hopefully, people will get engaged and they will kind of look at the sentencing that some of our career criminals are getting and maybe give it a different consideration,” Newsham said.

This week’s rash of violence killed two 15-year-olds (one was shot near Nats Park and another was stabbed on a Metro train), a special-needs man and his caregiver and a D.C. housing authority employee on his lunch break. Among other shootings:

Within a broader effort to examine ways to help reduce gun violence, the D.C. Council’s Committee on the Judiciary and Public Safety currently is considering legislation that would establish a criminal charge for possession of a gun with no serial number or an altered serial number.

D.C.’s Fall Crime Prevention Initiative launches on Monday.

Kristi King

Kristi King is a veteran reporter who has been working in the WTOP newsroom since 1990. She covers everything from breaking news to consumer concerns and the latest medical developments.

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