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Leaders meet in D.C. to discuss uptick in violent crime across the country

Montgomery County Police Chief Tom Manger speaks at the Monday meeting. (WTOP/Michelle Basch)

WASHINGTON — Police chiefs, mayors and other leaders from some of the biggest cities in the country held an urgent meeting in D.C. on Monday to talk about a collective increase in crime and what can be done about it.

A survey of 35 major American cities found, on average, they’ve seen an almost 20 percent increase in homicides this year.

“People are dying. That’s why we came here, we put this together in less than three weeks,” said D.C. Police Chief Cathy Lanier at the meeting by the Major Cities Chiefs Association held at the Newseum.

What’s the reason for the increase in crime after decades of decline?

“There’s no clear answer to why this is happening now,” said Montgomery County Police Chief Tom Manger, who is President of the Major Cities Chiefs Association.

“All the data we have suggests exactly the opposite of the national rumor narrative (of) the Ferguson Effect and police aren’t working,” said Chief Lanier. “Police are recovering more illegal firearms.  Police are working very, very hard.  But there is something else that is creating this problem with this spike in violent crime, and it’s not police stepping back.  Certainly the numbers don’t suggest that.”

The meeting resulted in several recommendations, including:

  •  Find ways to keep people who serve time in prison from going back, while at the same time keep repeat violent offenders locked up.
  •  Create tests to accurately detect when someone is using synthetic drugs, and require this testing for people on supervised parole.
  •  Develop more serious penalties for gun crimes and for gun criminals who use high-capacity magazines.
  •  Build trust between police and members of the community, so that officers and citizens can better team up to fight crime.
  •  Create a new National Criminal Justice Commission that will keep an eye on policing and criminal justice.

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