Justice Department to add more federal resources to fight crime in DC

Federal officials said they’re adding new resources to target violent crime and carjackings in D.C.

The Justice Department said Friday that additional prosecutors from its criminal division will work on cases involving violent crime.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office for D.C. will also move additional prosecutors to focus on carjackings and cases involving guns.

“Some of them will help us with the fight against violent crime in federal court, and some of them will help us with the fight against violent crime in Superior Court,” Matthew Graves, U.S. attorney for D.C., told WTOP.

Deputy Mayor of Public Safety and Justice Lindsey Appiah, in a statement, said, “Reducing crime in the District of Columbia is our No. 1 priority.”

Appiah said that because of the unique structure of the District’s criminal justice system, “the partnership of our federal partners is vital to advancing the shared goal of a safer, stronger city.”

Graves said there are some encouraging signs in the data on crime from D.C. police.

“Violent crime is down 4% compared to what it was last year,” he said. “Homicides are down 38%. Assaults with a dangerous weapon, which is one of the most common offenses that’s charged whenever there’s a shooting, are down 31%.”

Carjackings, which spiked dramatically over the course of the pandemic, have dropped nearly 5%, according to the latest data. But Graves said the crime itself “is incredibly dangerous, and we need to send a clear message that it is unacceptable and that there will be severe consequences.”

He said, in many cases, “you’re combining a weapon, typically a firearm, with a vehicle, which in and of itself is a weapon.”

Graves said the data from last year shows carjackings are still “disproportionately” committed by juveniles.

“Last year, of the individuals arrested for armed carjacking, 75% of them were juveniles,” he said.

And among adults committing carjackings, Graves said 73% were age 24 or younger. There were only 12 people who were 25 or older who were arrested for armed carjacking last year, according to Graves.

Bolstered crime-fighting efforts will include the use of data compiled by something called the Gun Violence Analytic Cell, or GVAC, which is led by the FBI. That unit also partners with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

The Justice Department said the efforts are part of a departmentwide strategy to fight crime that was first announced in May 2021.

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Kate Ryan

As a member of the award-winning WTOP News, Kate is focused on state and local government. Her focus has always been on how decisions made in a council chamber or state house affect your house. She's also covered breaking news, education and more.

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