As 2023 comes to a close and we reflect on this past year, I am moved and inspired by the resiliency, creativity, and compassion of our community – thank you. The end of 2023 marks the culmination of my first year as Chairwoman of the Committee on the Judiciary and Public safety – a responsibility I take very seriously as we experienced a significant rise in violent crime and gun violence that harms too many neighbors and communities throughout the District. I am working every day for a brighter and safer future for all DC residents and acknowledge the deep pain this violence continues to inflict on our communities, with neighbors in Wards 7 and 8 disproportionately impacted particularly by gun violence. The need to move forward solutions and interventions is urgent.
As Chairwoman, I have been inspired by neighbors across DC who have shared their stories and discussed public safety solutions at hearings both at the Wilson Building and virtually, during public safety walks, in community meetings, through emails and phone calls, and in living rooms across our city.
This summer, the Council came together to address public safety by passing my common-sense emergency legislation, the Prioritizing Public Safety bill, that fills critical gaps in our legal system and ensures accountability for those who commit violent offenses. I also moved forward the nomination and the Council confirmed Pamela Smith this fall to be the Chief of Metropolitan Police Department; Chief Smith has been committed to improving public safety through targeted interventions and strengthening community engagement and relationships.
The Committee on the Judiciary and Public Safety considered many proposals – including from my Secure DC plan and those put forth by my colleagues and Mayor Bowser – on interventions that would enhance prevention, accountability, and government coordination measures. In the new year, as Chairwoman of the Committee, I am committed to moving forward many of the strongest public safety initiatives we considered this fall.
What has remained resoundingly clear to me throughout this year is that we all deserve to feel and be safe in our communities, and we must act collectively to move the District in a safer and more secure direction.
I am proud of the work we have accomplished this year, grateful for your partnership, and invigorated for the year ahead fighting for the safety, dignity, and vitality of District residents.
Yours in Service,
Councilmember Pinto strongly believes that transparency, accountability, and public engagement are each essential tenets of responsible legislating, which is why she shared her Secure DC plan to improve public safety with the public on the first day of the Council’s fall legislative session. The Secure DC Plan will:
Increase Prevention and End Cycles of Violence by investing in safe public spaces, protecting victims, and providing job training to reduce recidivism.
Safe Public Spaces: Establish new security patrols, lighting, and cameras for our bus and transit stations, recreation spaces & schools, and commercial corridors to deter crime from occurring; enforce civil violations for fare evasion;
Hospitality Training: Provide robust hospitality industry training for individuals serving sentences at the DC Jail to set folks up for a successful and safe re-entry and reduce recidivism;
Trans Fatality Review Board: Increase protections for trans and gender-diverse people by establishing a first in the nation review board to identify the scope, nature, and analyses of deaths and provide policy recommendations to improve protections.
Ensure Accountability for offenders of violent crime by improving the legal tools we have, such as expanding gun and carjacking charges, pretrial detention, and prearrest diversion opportunities.
Pretrial Detention: Require a rebuttable presumption for individuals to be held pretrial if they committed a violent crime, and require judges to provide a written opinion if the judge decides to release an individual pretrial in such cases;
Illegal Firearms: Create new offenses for endangerment with a firearm and illegal discarding of firearms; increase penalties for assaults committed with a firearm; broaden cases that can be charged as carjacking;
Pre-Arrest Diversion: Establish a taskforce to develop recommendations around pre-arrest diversion for those who commit low-level offenses, ensure accountability in these cases in ways that also facilitate the provision of mental health and financial supports when appropriate.
Strengthen Government Coordination by implementing hiring and retention strategies at public safety, human services, and health agencies, and oversight to ensure speedy and accurate response.
Hiring & Retention: Fill much needed positions at our public safety agencies and ensure related agencies including the Metropolitan Police Department, Fire and Emergency Medical Services, Departments of Behavioral Health, Human Services, Corrections, Youth Rehabilitation Services, and Office of Unified Communications hire and retain excellent staff;
Fast and Accurate 9/11 Response: Increase transparency and accuracy at the Office of Unified Communications through a public dashboard of call-to-answer times, misuse calls, diversion eligibility, and minimum staffing levels in order to improve training, awareness, and reduce mistakes;
Violence Interruption & Retail Theft: Lower the threshold for Theft 1 from $1,000 to $500 to address the rampant retail theft in our communities and hold roundtables bringing together the community, experts, and government to evaluate our violence interruption programs and improved metrics.
Thousands of residents and stakeholders have made their voices heard in dozens of hearings, written testimony, community events, and meetings to strengthen the safety and vitality of our communities. Councilmember Pinto holds these stories closely to inform all her work on the Council.
Here are some of the ways the Committee has engaged with the public:
Public Safety Walks in All Eight Wards: Councilmember Pinto conducted public safety walks in all eight wards with residents, Ward Councilmembers, Advisory Neighborhood Commissioners, public safety agencies, and community organizations to hear directly about neighborhood-specific public safety needs and ways to ensure her Secure DC plan bills critical gaps in the public safety ecosystem.
Three-day Roundtable on Gun Violence Prevention: Councilmember Pinto spoke with hundreds of public witnesses and dozens of government witnesses during a three-day roundtable conducted virtually, at the Anacostia Library, and at the Wilson Building. The format maximized accessibility for residents to engage in the way that best suited their needs. The roundtable highlighted the need for increased government coordination from emergency response to follow-ups for families, along with the need to provide mental health supports for survivors, loved ones of those lost, and the community workers who show up day-in and day-out to care for folks in crisis.
Community Forum on Public Safety in Chinatown: Councilmember Pinto convened a discussion with MPD Chief Pamela Smith, Assistant Chief Tasha Bryant, Deputy Mayor Lindsey Appiah, US Attorney Matt Graves, Deputy Attorney General Elizabeth Weiser, Metro Transit Police, and over 100 neighbors at MLK Library to discuss challenges and strategies to address the rise in crime and violence in Chinatown.
Budget for Fiscal Year 2024 (October 2023- September 2024)
As Chairwoman of the Committee on the Judiciary and Public Safety, Councilmember Pinto is charged with advancing the budget for our public safety agencies and reviewing legislation introduced that affects these agencies. Despite a tight budget cycle, Councilmember Pinto passed and funded a robust public safety budget that will help keep residents safe, including by:
Establishing the Safe Commercial Corridors Grants pilot to provide safety supports in Downtown, Shaw, and Adams Morgan
Supporting police officer hiring and retention incentives to ensure faster response and increased patrols through hiring bonuses, housing assistance, and diversity and wellness initiatives
Requiring the Office of Unified Communications to report data on the number of calls eligible for diversion to non-law enforcement agencies
Supporting victims services with Access to Justice grants that provide civil legal aid to underserved residents and with investments in domestic violence services, hospital-based intervention programs, and supports to address anti-LGBTQQIA+ and hate crimes
Supporting the Department of Forensic Sciences reaccreditation process and contracting to ensure accurate and timely evidence analysis
Restoring funding to modernize the District’s criminal code to provide clarity and equity in the law and enable more effective prosecution
Expanding access to critical benefits for Fire and Emergency Medical Services employees with job-related life threatening conditions
Enhancing data-sharing and analysis for the Office of the Attorney General, Sentencing Commission, and District Courts
Councilmember Pinto and her team have continued to maintain direct community outreach and engagement. During our third year, Team Pinto expanded opportunities for Ward 2 neighbors and residents to stay connected and share their ideas and concerns. Some of our work this year includes:
Constituent Services Assistance: Councilmember Pinto’s Constituent Service team assisted with thousands of constituent matters ranging from help with receiving unemployment assistance, to sorting out driver license and license plate requirements, to sidewalk repairs. If you have a concern for our constituent services team, please reach out at www.brookepintodc.com/help.
Community Office Hours: Team Pinto met with hundreds of neighbors one-on-one in office hour events throughout the year and in each Ward 2 neighborhood to hear neighbors’ pressing concerns and ideas across the ward, including at Aslin in Logan Circle, YELLOW Café in Georgetown, Francis Pool in West End, Compass Coffee in Shaw, Teaism Downtown, Kramers in Dupont Circle, and Mitchell Park in Sheridan/Kalorama. We are always looking for new ways to connect, so feel free to share any office hours location ideas with our team.
Earth Day Cleanup: In partnership with Shaw Main Street and District Cleanups, Councilmember Pinto hosted a third annual Earth Day Cleanup where dozens of residents and volunteers joined to beautify our streets and parks.
Ward 2 Advisory Neighborhood Commission Meetings: Team Pinto attended dozens of monthly ANC meetings to share office updates and initiatives, as well as ensure ANC and neighborhood concerns are heard and represented in the Council.
Meetings with Community Groups, Advocacy Organizations, and Residents: From community concerns to legislative ideas, Team Pinto attended meetings for organizations like Citizens Association of Georgetown, Burleith Citizens Association, the Hillandale Board of Directors annual meeting, Sheridan-Kalorama Annual meeting, Dupont Circle Citizens Association, Logan Circle Community Association, French Street Neighborhood Association, Square 242 Alley Party and our Main Streets in Shaw, Logan Circle, Dupont Circle and Georgetown to ensure community and resident needs, opinions, and ideas are heard and acted upon.
Our downtown core and our small businesses are key to our city’s resiliency and economic strength. Councilmember Pinto knows that more needs to be done to support downtown and we cannot take our downtown businesses for granted. Councilmember Pinto continues to foster strong partnerships with business leaders and stakeholders, including the Downtown and Golden Triangle BIDs and our Ward 2 Main Streets.
Downtown Resiliency: Councilmember Pinto introduced and funded key pillars of herRECOVERY Act to create a vibrant, resilient, and safe Downtown. The RECOVERY Act creates tax abatements to incentivize office-to-residential conversions, grants for retail businesses to come and stay downtown which are expected to be available to businesses in January, and the recently launched safety grants program to provide Downtown and Shaw commercial corridors funds to put toward safety initiatives. These investments are critical to ensuring the resiliency and vibrancy of our downtown for years to come. Key components of the RECOVERY Act include: (1) Incentivizing mixed use property (2) Attracting businesses to the Central Business District and (3) Encouraging entrepreneurship and innovation. Councilmember Pinto also worked to prevent a series of laws that would have hurt our downtown recovery, including a proposal to increase deed and recordation taxes and establish penalties for rideshares going to or from downtown.
Monumental Sports: Councilmember Pinto has been advocating on behalf of and in partnership with Monumental Sports since she took office. She has repeatedly stood by their side to ensure they had what they needed to continue being a great partner downtown and to all of DC. The Mayor and the Council made a strong $500 million offer to Monumental Sports to renovate Capital One Arena. Councilmember Pinto worked with her colleagues to garner unanimous support for this proposal. The announcement from Monumental Sports was certainly disappointing and causes us to pause and reflect on how we could have done better as a city and how to ensure something like this doesn’t happen again. District government will move this plan forward expeditiously through the legislative process in the new year, while an uncertain and lengthy process plays out in Virginia. Councilmember Pinto will continue fighting for the teams to stay in DC.
Supporting Small Businesses: Councilmember Pinto secured funding for a study to determine the feasibility of bringing a Main Street program to the Foggy Bottom West End neighborhood. The report strongly recommends establishing a Foggy Bottom West End Main Street program to serve local businesses. As a next step in this process, Councilmember Pinto will be working to fund the establishment of the Foggy Bottom West End Main Street in this year’s DSLBD budget so that the Main Street can start providing businesses with support for marketing and branding, customer acquisition, security and vagrancy, and employee retention and acquisition. Dupont Deckover: Councilmember Pinto secured funding to support businesses disrupted by the Dupont Deckover project to ensure that our diverse and vibrant business communities survive to benefit from this transformational project. Councilmember Pinto also hosted community meetings to ensure neighbors could be engaged in the process and aware of future impacts.
Councilmember Pinto meets regularly with senior neighbors to ensure our seniors receive the resources and support they need and deserve to thrive in our communities.
Senior Villages: Councilmember Pinto continues to work closely with Ward 2 Senior Villages in Georgetown, Foggy Bottom/West End, and Dupont Circle to support their mission serving our seniors.
Senior Center Task Force: Councilmember Pinto worked to fund and establish the Senior Wellness Center Task Force, which includes Ward 2 representatives and began meeting this year to identify locations for a Ward 2 senior center.
Consumer Protection: Councilmember Pinto continues to work closely with the Office of the Attorney General and Department of Licensing and Consumer Protection to strengthen consumer protections, especially for senior residents, by prohibiting unfair, deceptive, or misleading charitable practices; clarifying protections for vulnerable adults and the elderly; enhancing penalties for violators; and ensuring that the District’s enforcement agencies have the tools necessary to enforce these protections.
Our LGBTQQIA+ friends, family, coworkers and neighbors are an integral part of our city. Councilmember Pinto attended several events and advanced legislation to honor and protect our LGBTQQIA+ community.
Introduced and passed legislation to officially designate Swann Street N.W., between 14th Street N.W. and 19th Street N.W., in honor of William Dorsey Swann, self-referred to as “The Queen of Drag,” was a Black, Queer Washingtonian, and former enslaved person who was an early pioneer in LGBTQQIA+ rights.
Funded a Violence Prevention and Response Team Coordinator at MPD for anti-LGBTQQIA+ and hate crimes.
Councilmember Pinto continued her work supporting literacy for our students. Ensuring our kids read on grade level is a critical part of student success in the classroom and beyond and Councilmember Pinto continues to champion this cause. This year, students also now have greater access to menstrual products and menstrual education in schools and libraries because of the implementation of Councilmember Pinto’s legislation.
Literacy Taskforce: The Early Literacy Education Task Force created by Councilmember Pinto in 2022 has been responsible for developing strategies to implement structured literacy training for DC teachers and instructors to strengthen student literacy. This past October, the Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE) shared the Task Force’s recommendations to implement structured literacy instruction and training in DC. A strong foundation in literacy is essential to the success and wellbeing of all our students and implementing the Task Force recommendations will help DC strengthen that foundation.
Free Period Products for Students: The Expanding Student Access to Period Products Act introduced by Councilmember Pinto was fully implemented this year and requires that free period products be provided in District public, public charter, and private schools and post-secondary institutions. In May, DC’s State Office of the Superintendent of Schools (OSSE) rolled out new menstrual health education standards as required by Councilmember Pinto’s legislation, making DC a leader in the nation.
Support for Duke Ellington Students and Teachers: Councilmember Pinto continues to monitor the progress of the Duke Ellington/DCPS working group tasked with proposing a new funding model that will better support teachers and ensure the the continuation of world-class arts instruction.
School Readiness Meetings: Again this year, Councilmember Pinto met with Ward 2 DCPS, charter, and private school principals, as well as conducted site visits, to ensure our faculty, facilities, students, and families had what they needed to hit the ground running for School Year 2023-2024. Whether helping to ensure the boiler is working or a substitute teacher is in place, Councilmember Pinto and her staff have worked diligently with students, families, and administrators to address and solve concerns.
Keeping residents in their homes and moving neighbors experiencing homelessness into housing continues to be an important part of Councilmember Pinto’s work.
Access to Justice: As Chairwoman of the Committee on the Judiciary and Public Safety,Councilmember Pinto has oversight of the Access to Justice Initiative and was able to restore funding for this critical program in this year’s budget. Access to Justice enables the delivery of civil legal services to low-income and underserved District residents. Critically, these services can help keep residents in their homes and avoid housing instability and homelessness.
Supporting Housing Stability: Councilmember Pinto advocated for and supported increased investment in the Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP) to ensure that District residents facing housing emergencies can continue to receive financial assistance and avoid eviction for unpaid rent.
Alleviating Homelessness: Councilmember Pinto knows that alleviating homelessness and moving folks into housing is an important issue in Ward 2 and across the District. Throughout her time on the Council she has worked to secure vouchers, streamline the voucher process, and conduct oversight of DC Housing Authority. In addition, Councilmember Pinto has advocated for bridge housing to move folks off the street while they wait for placement in permanent housing. This summer, the Executive announced the purchase of 1129 New Hampshire Ave NW (The Aston) for use as a non-congregate bridge housing location. Councilmember Pinto was initially disappointed by how community engagement regarding this project was handled and shared the community’s frustration that the Executive failed to fully solicit and consider community feedback before moving forward on this project. Before allowing the project to move forward, Councilmember Pinto secured several conditions so this project could be implemented successfully with community engagement. The Community Advisory Team – only possible because of Councilmember Pinto’s advocacy – will begin to meet soon to ensure community engagement is an on-going process and that the Aston can serve as a successful model for alleviating homelessness across the District.
Making transportation safer and more accessible is important to Councilmember Pinto’s work serving Ward 2 residents. Councilmember Pinto has also been committed to ensuring there are more opportunities to connect with neighbors through greater access to recreation spaces.
Transportation Access: Councilmember Pinto introduced and got passed legislation to provide rebates for the purchase of electric bicycles (e-bikes). Designed with equity as a top priority, the instant rebate program will expand access to electric bicycles to residents who are currently priced out of making a purchase. Enrollment in the E-Bike Incentive Program is expected to begin in early 2024 and you can learn more here.
Community Access to Recreational Spaces: To ensure that families have access to safe, clean recreational facilities in their neighborhoods, Councilmember Pinto established and funded a pilot program to provide lighting, security personnel, and custodial services at the recreational facilities serving Garrison Elementary School and Banneker High School during any non-school hours that the facilities are open to the public. To expand this pilot across the District, Councilmember Pinto also introduced the Expanding Community Access to Recreational Spaces bill in her Secure DC plan as a way to enhance public safety.
Investments in Infrastructure Projects: Councilmember Pinto helped to expedite the timeline for the S Street Revitalization project which broke ground this fall. In Georgetown, the Transportation and Access Study began and is still ongoing to evaluate future options for improving transit corridors. In addition, Councilmember Pinto secured funding for the restoration of the C&O Canal Towpath in Georgetown to not only provide an environmental enhancement, but also to draw visitors. This year, the Massachusetts Avenue rehabilitation project and the 9th Street Bike Lane were completed.
Supporting Small Businesses and Addressing Waste: Councilmember Pinto continued her work to make our communities greener, cleaner & more sustainable with additional funding for small businesses to acquire Trash Compactors, which reduce carbon emissions as well as rodents; continued funding for all Ward 2 Clean Teams, including continued expansion of the Shaw Main Street & Glover Park Clean Teams; funding for a new electric vehicle for the Shaw Main Street Clean Team; and new funding to create a dedicated clean team in Chinatown and Gallery Place.
Preventing Excessive Lead Exposure: Councilmember Pinto introduced the LEAD Free DC Omnibus Amendment Act to require public and private lead service lines be replaced by 2030 at no cost to the property owner. The bill had a hearing this summer and awaits mark-up by the Committee on Transportation & Environment. Councilmember Pinto is committed to getting this important legislation passed.
Councilmember Pinto and her team look forward to another productive and meaningful year ahead serving the District. We always welcome your feedback, ideas, and partnership -- reach out to Team Pinto here.
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