It has been so wonderful seeing so many people out and about in our community as the weather is changing and more people are returning to work and school. I want to provide you with a few updates from our public safety forum this week, our telephone townhall, and our upcoming Ward 2 community bike ride this Saturday. This newsletter will also share some legislative updates from strengthening our elections systems to Metro safety to improving the functioning and safety of our school buildings.
Public Safety: This week, I hosted a community meeting on public safety. I put together a panel of some of our city’s top public safety leaders: DC Attorney General Karl Racine, U.S. Attorney Matthew Graves, Chief of the Metropolitan Police Department Robert J. Contee III, and Founder of the T.R.I.G.G.E.R. Project Tia Bell. We had a robust discussion about efforts to improve public safety in our community, Council investments in public safety in the FY23 budget, and needed solutions moving forward. If you missed the event, you can watch the discussion here.
I’d like to share with you some of the key takeaways from the discussion. Our approaches to public safety cannot and do not operate in silos. I framed the conversation in three sections (1) crime prevention and supports for youth; (2) responding to public safety incidents and prosecution; and (3) moving forward and rehabilitation.
My number one takeaway and reminder for the public is that all these parts of our public safety system have the same shared goal of making our communities safer. Our government agencies must continue to partner with community organizations to strengthen public safety prevention efforts and we need to provide funding for those organizations so they can scale up their work. Fear of crime is a real issue in DC. No one should be afraid in their communities and more must be done to prevent increasing crime and violence and respond to it more quickly when it does occur. We must ensure that the public safety apparatus has both proper funding and accountability.
We also discussed the challenges the US Attorney’s Office is facing in overseeing more than 15,000 arrests last year and how they're prioritizing cases. Judicial vacancies are also a challenge contributing to a backlog of cases because there are not enough judges appointed by the federal government. I'll continue to work with my colleagues and the federal government on this urgent issue.
From giving young people tools for conflict management, to jobs and supervision, to arrests and prosecution, to restorative justice and rehabilitation, we have many committed people working every day to improve public safety. I'll keep working in partnership on new strategies so that all residents and visitors can be safe. One of the ways I will do that this fall is with bike rides with 1D, 2D, and 3D MPD officers to see their work up close, hear about challenges, and collaborate on public safety strategies. Stay tuned for updates from these rides.
Telephone Townhall: In order to connect with more residents, I held my 3rd annual telephone townhall at the end of last month! This is part of my effort to reach out to residents who may not be connected to my office via the internet or who are looking for additional ways to engage. Dozens of neighbors joined me and asked questions about public safety, moving neighbors out of homelessness and into housing, making our roads safe for pedestrians, cyclists and drivers, and much more. If you have ideas to share on how to connect with neighbors, please share them with my Constituent Services Director, Brian Romanowski.
Community Bike Ride: Tomorrow, I am hosting my Ward 2 Community Bike Ride as another way to hear directly from residents. We'll bike through Ward 2 neighborhoods and hold listening sessions along the way to discuss transportation ideas and concerns. If you can't be with us the whole time, please feel free to join us at one or more of the stops! We’ll be starting at the Kennedy Recreation Center at 10 a.m. and moving to Franklin Park then up to the Spanish Steps and concluding in Rose Park at noon! You can learn more about the bike ride and RSVP here.
Yours in service,
IN THE NEWS
Menstrual Equity: The Period Equity Righting an Injustice of District Residents Act (PERIOD Act) had a hearing on October 11th in the Housing and Executive Administration Committee. This bill would require the provision of free period products in District buildings and government operated spaces. Building on the successful passage of Councilmember Pinto's bill to provide period products in all DC schools, the PERIOD Act is poised to make a meaningful difference in the lives of District residents and visitors placing DC as a national leader on this globally important issue. The bill was voted on successfully out of the Housing Committee and will now head to the full Council for a vote!
DC Housing Authority Oversight: In response to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s report on the extraordinary deficiencies of the DC Housing Authority, the Council passed emergency legislation to ensure that the DC Housing Authority leadership receives proper training and is held accountable. You can read Councilmember Pinto’s statement on the report here.
Enhancing Reproductive Rights: The Council passed legislation to protect persons who assist and support others with self-managed abortions. This is one bill of a series to enhance reproductive rights in the District. You can read more about Councilmember Pinto’s work to protect the right to choose here.
Improving DCPS repair work orders: Councilmember Pinto co-introduced legislation to enhance transparency and better handling of repair work orders at our schools. The School Work Order Integrity Amendment Act would require that work orders receive sign-off from a school official like a principal or foreman before they are closed in the DGS system. This is to prevent work orders from being closed by contractors before the problem is fixed and will help ensure repairs are made without further delays.
Metro Safety: The Council held a meeting with WMATA’s General Manager Randy Clark. Councilmember Pinto asked questions and emphasized the importance of public safety while riding bus and metro.
IN THE COMMUNITY