FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Contact: Victoria Casarrubias, Communications Director
COUNCILMEMBER PINTO ANNOUNCES THE SECURE DC PLAN TO ADDRESS PUBLIC SAFETY IN THE DISTRICT
Today, Councilmember Brooke Pinto, Chairwoman of the Committee on the Judiciary and Public Safety, introduced a comprehensive package of bills and initiatives – Secure DC Plan – to take urgent and targeted action to address public safety. The Secure DC Plan builds on the substantial budget investments passed by the Committee and the successful passage of Councilmember Pinto’s emergency legislation to address crime earlier this year.
Councilmember Pinto’s Secure DC Plan addresses every aspect of our legal justice system by increasing accountability for violent crime and gun offenses, giving our public safety agencies the tools needed to address hiring and retention challenges, and enhancing infrastructure to make our schools, recreational spaces, and commercial and transit corridors safer. The Secure DC Plan will drive the Committee on Judiciary and Public Safety’s agenda this fall.
“We are experiencing a crisis of violence in the District, and we must address the gaps in our legal system in order to prevent the proliferation of violence in our communities. Too many of our residents are afraid. My comprehensive package of legislative initiatives is a compilation of common-sense, targeted interventions that will urgently and practically improve safety for DC residents,” said Councilmember Pinto.
“The Secure DC Plan that I am proposing today creatively and expansively addresses some of the most pressing challenges facing our communities. I hear from residents every day about the need for accountability when harm occurs and how desperately residents want to feel and be secure in their communities. I hear from government partners about the challenge to meet resident needs without adequate staffing. I hear from justice-involved individuals about the lack of access to job training and career development opportunities. My Secure DC Plan fills these gaps and addresses the need for interventions targeting all angles of public safety – from prevention, to accountability, to ending cycles of violence.”
Councilmember Pinto worked with partners across the District to develop the Secure DC Plan, including with the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia. “I am glad Councilmember Pinto introduced these bills today, and I support her plan to improve public safety in the District. These provisions will better enable our office to prosecute cases that are harming our communities and fill legal gaps that will make our residents safer,” said United States Attorney Matthew Graves.
The Secure DC Plan includes a host of newly introduced bills as well as plans to hold hearings on and move legislation Councilmember Pinto introduced earlier this year.
Councilmember Pinto’s Secure DC Plan consists of:
- Introducing the Addressing Crime through Targeted Interventions and Violence Enforcement (ACTIVE) Act of 2023
- Introducing the Improving Safety and Emergency Response on Transit Corridors Amendment Act of 2023
- Introducing the Safe Commercial Corridors Amendment Act of 2023
- Introducing the Government Recruitment and Retention Act of 2023
- Introducing the Transgender and Gender-Diverse Mortality and Fatality Review Committee Establishment Act of 2023
- Introducing the Leading Education Access for Reentry and Necessary Success (LEARNS) Amendment Act of 2023
- Introducing the Expanding Community Access to Safe and Clean Recreational Space Act of 2023
- Holding a public hearing on the Accountability and Victim Protection Amendment Act of 2023
- Holding a public hearing on the Operations of the Office of Unified Communications’ 911 Call Center and the Office of Unified Communication (OUC) Transparency and Accuracy Amendment Act of 2023
- Holding a public hearing on the Metro Safety Amendment Act of 2023
- Holding a public joint oversight roundtable on the Executive’s and Attorney General’s Violence Prevention Efforts
- Holding a public roundtable on strategies to prevent retail theft in the District
- Moving the Prioritizing Public Safety Emergency Amendment Act in permanent legislation
- Moving the Grounds for Divorce, Legal Separation, and Annulment Amendment Act of 2023
- Moving the District of Columbia Crime Victimization Survey Act
- Moving the Food Regulation Ensures Safety and Hospitality Specialty Training Aids Reentry Transition and Success (FRESH STARTS) Act of 2023
To improve public safety, Councilmember Pinto’s Secure DC Plan will:
Ensure Accountability by
- Creating a rebuttable presumption in favor of pretrial detention for adults who commit crimes of violence and for juveniles who commit certain crimes of violence like attempted homicide or carjacking, with or without a gun, and requiring a judge to issue a written explanation when a judge decides to release individuals pretrial charged with violent crimes;
- Establishing new felony offenses for strangulation, endangerment with a firearm for firing a gun in public, and unlawful discarding of firearms and ammunition, expanding carjacking offenses so that cases can be successfully prosecuted, and bringing penalties for endangerment with a firearm in line with other firearm offenses;
- Increasing the capacity to prosecute cases by making misdemeanor arrest warrants outside the District extraditable, making GPS records admissible to prove a defendant’s guilt, and expanding the security camera rebate program;
- Standing up a Prearrest Diversion Task Force charged with developing recommendations for increasing the use of prearrest diversion for offenders of low-level crimes who may need resources and non-carceral accountability, and implementing those recommendations;
- Convening a public roundtable with the Executive, business leaders, and the public to collaborate on the best new strategies to curb retail theft.
Prevent Crime and Violence by
- Establishing a city-wide grant program to improve public safety in commercial corridors with funding for lighting, patrols and other interventions (an expansion of a pilot Councilmember Pinto created in the Fiscal Year 2024 budget);
- Enhancing safety in our transportation corridors by launching blue light technology at bus stops along commercial corridors to improve emergency communications;
- Ensuring safety on Metro systems by enabling the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) to enforce the civil fine for fare evasion;
- Expanding access to safe recreational space in all eight wards by providing security patrols and custodial services through the Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR) at school recreation facilities (an expansion of a pilot Councilmember Pinto created in the Fiscal Year 2024 budget).
Support Police and First Responders by
- Enhancing hiring and retention incentives for critical positions at District public safety agencies, including at the Office of Unified Communications (OUC), Department of Corrections (DOC), Department of Behavioral Health (DBH), Department of Human Services (DHS), and Department of Youth Rehabilitative Services (DYRS);
- Establishing a Director of Recruitment and Retention within the Office of the City Administrator (OCA) to identify and address additional critical positions experiencing vacancy and retention challenges across District government.
End Cycles of Violence by
- Enhancing requirements for the provision of nutrient-dense food and strengthening oversight over the provision of food and nutrition at DC Jail, as well as establishing a hospitality career training program to provide residents with the tools they need for a successful transition back into the community;
- Improving post-incarceration outcomes by requiring that DOC assess students within DOC custody for special education services when requested by or for a resident, and setting qualifications for contractors seeking to provide education services to residents in DOC custody;
- Increasing protections for trans- and gender-diverse people by establishing the first in the nation Transgender and Gender-Diverse Mortality and Fatality Review Board, responsible for identifying the scope, nature, and analyses of transgender mortalities and fatalities and providing policy recommendations to improve protections;
- Strengthening protections for victims of abuse by removing waiting periods for divorce and legal separation, allowing exclusive use of a family home during litigation, and adding the history of physical, emotional, or financial abuse to the list of factors Family Court may consider when awarding alimony and marital property.
Strengthen Government Coordination by
- Increasing transparency and accuracy at OUC by requiring OUC to publicly share monthly data on call-taker and dispatcher errors, shifts under minimum staffing levels, call-to-answer times, calls dropped, number and type of 911 misuse calls, and the number of eligible and actually diverted calls, as well as making critical updates to the 311 system, and adding an OUC representative to the Domestic Violence Fatality Review Board;
- Requiring DOC develop a publicly searchable grievance tracking system so that DC Jail residents can submit and track the status of requests and complaints submitted to DOC;
- Convening a public oversight roundtable on the Executive’s and Attorney General’s violence interruption efforts with the Committee on the Judiciary and Public Safety, Committee of the Whole, and Committee on Executive Administration and Labor;
- Requiring the Criminal Justice Coordinating Council to share data on the process and outcome of programs, alternative dispositions, and sentencing agreements, and requiring a biennial report on improving responses to victim needs and contributing factors of crime.
Councilmember Pinto looks forward to conducting a thorough public engagement process on her Secure DC Plan to act urgently to make effective and sustained improvements in public safety.