D.C. surpassed its 100th homicide last week, marking a grim milestone that city leaders say they are working to address.
The District hasn’t seen 100 homicides by this time of year since 2003, and homicides have been up 19% since 2022. Compared to last year, other crimes have also increased — sex abuse cases are up 34% and robberies have increased by 25% since 2022.
Mayor Muriel Bowser spoke out against the violence that plagued the district in recent years.
“We’re focused, of course, on closing gaps in the law, looking at what we can do better administratively and making sure that we have programs and services that are engaging our young people,” Bowser said.
Interim Police Chief Ashan Benedict said the city is focused on more community engagement and has made progress.
“You’re going to see a proactive police department this summer. We are making gains. We’re taking strides,” Benedict said. “The homicides are taken so seriously, but we’ve gotta put that into context and bring those cases to closure.”
D.C. Police Union Chairman Gregg Pemberton released a statement blaming local lawmakers who passed the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act for a spike in homicides.
“This increase in crime is due to the DC Council’s implementation of misguided ‘police reform’ legislation. The Council’s actions have had a chilling effect on professional and responsible policing and caused over 1,200 police officers to leave the agency,” he said.
The union added, “without serious efforts to repeal this legislation, this situation will only continue to worsen.”
“Resignations are now outpacing retirements and recruiting numbers are abysmal,” Pemberton said. “Without serious efforts to repeal this legislation, this situation will only continue to get worse.”
Though the legislation, which required Congressional approval, was blocked by bipartisan votes in both the U.S. House and Senate, President Joe Biden committed to vetoing lawmaker action, leaving the bill intact. Biden vetoed the resolution to remove the law on May 25, just three years after George Floyd’s murder.
D.C. Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton called Biden’s decision to Congress’ action a “historic victory” for the District and home rule.
“Today’s historic veto demonstrates that widespread support of D.C. residents’ right to govern their own affairs exists at the highest levels,” Norton said in a statement. “This episode reminds us that the permanent solution from congressional interference in D.C.’s local affairs, is for Congress to pass and the president to sign my D.C. statehood bill. I will continue working to ensure that we finally achieve full local self-government for the residents of our nation’s capital.”