I recently introduced three major pieces of public safety legislation aimed at ensuring accountability – both for offenders and for our government agencies:
These bills are a continuation of my efforts to ensure our public safety agencies are operating efficiently and effectively, that offenders are held accountable for their actions, and that victims have the support and protections they need.
The Accountability and Victim Protection Amendment Act:
The Accountability and Victim Protection Amendment Act is an omnibus legislative package that will address gaps in our legal system, ensure accountability for offenders, support victims, and keep guns out of the hands of people who pose a threat to the community. The bill was developed in partnership with the US Attorney’s Office for DC, the agency responsible for prosecuting the vast majority of crimes by adult offenders. This legislation will address our urgent public safety challenges as well as interrupt cycles of violence – making us safer today and in the future.
The Accountability and Victim Protection Amendment Act will:
Since assuming the role of Chairwoman of the Committee on the Judiciary and Public Safety, I have focused on identifying and filling gaps in our legal system that enable crime and violence to proliferate. The Accountability and Victim Protection Amendment Act of 2023 is a major step in my efforts to promote common-sense, actionable solutions to our urgent public safety challenges.
Metro Safety Amendment Act:
I introduced the Metro Safety Amendment Act to enable WMATA to better enforce civil penalties for fare evasion. Currently, individuals who fare evade have to pay a fine, but there is no way to require them to provide their name and address to issue the fine. This bill closes that gap by creating a $100 fine for those who do not provide their name and address.
While enforcement is important - especially for those who can afford to pay but choose not to - we also have to do more to increase affordability. One step I'm taking is to call for a more efficient implementation of the Kids Ride Free program. I hear from families all the time that there are too many obstacles to getting cards that preclude young people from participating in the program. To address this, I sent a letter to relevant agencies asking that they work together to streamline this process and get cards in the hands of kids.
The Office of Unified Communications Transparency and Accuracy Amendment Act:
Lastly, earlier this month I introduced the Office of Unified Communications Transparency and Accuracy Amendment Act. In recent years, significant errors at OUC, the agency responsible for operating DC’s 911 call center, have had disastrous consequences and have undermined the health and safety of District residents. The Office of Unified Communications Transparency and Accuracy Amendment Act will provide the public with information regarding OUC’s operations, efficacy, and accuracy in order to ensure improvements to the systems and processes of OUC and increase public trust. There is no room for error when we are dealing with life or death responses. OUC is a critical part of our public safety apparatus, and it is crucial that the agency is functioning with accuracy, efficiency, and timeliness.
Every day, my team and I are laser-focused on making DC residents safer, and I am incredibly proud of these three pieces of public safety legislation. I will continue doing everything in my power to bring down crime and violence and promote safety in our communities.
This week, I also held a hearing on Mayor Bowser’s Safer Stronger Amendment Act. 170 residents and organizations signed up to testify and I am so grateful for everyone who took the time to share their perspective and make their voice heard on this proposal. You can still submit written statements to be included in the official record before July 11th and can learn how to do so here. You can watch the full hearing here.
Yours in service,
On July 13th, the Committee on the Judiciary and Public Safety will be holding a hearing on the following legislation:
Anyone wishing to testify should contact Aukima Benjamin, Committee Manager to the Committee on the Judiciary and Public Safety, at least 24 hours prior to the start of the hearing at (202) 724-8058 or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. Witnesses will receive information on how to join the hearing at that time.
Witnesses who anticipate needing language interpretation, or requiring sign language interpretation, are asked to inform the Committee of the need as soon as possible but no later than five business days before the hearing.
This month the Committee on the Judiciary and Public Safety held hearings on a number of pieces of legislation. You can watch the full hearings here:
Chairwoman Pinto has been on the ground, working directly with our public safety partners to address crime and violence in the city.
Chairwoman Pinto met with the Public Defenders Service to discuss avenues to improve public safety and promote justice in our criminal-legal system.
Chairwoman Pinto joined the TRIGGER Project for the End Gun Violence Citywide Festival and presented a resolution to declare June Gun Violence Awareness Month.
Chairwoman Pinto celebrated the funding secured in the budget to support victims and provide legal aid to low-income residents with the DC Bar Foundation.
Chairwoman Pinto met with Deputy Auditor for Public Safety Chris Magnus, a new position the Council created to focus specifically on public safety agencies.
Chairwoman Pinto met with Interim Chief Ashan Benedict to discuss urgent public safety challenges and ensuring MPD has the support it needs to navigate this moment of transition.
DC News Now: DC Council member calls on more transparency with the District’s 911 Call Center. “‘The agency does not have room for mistakes,’ Pinto said. ‘It is vitally important to all of our health and safety and well-being that our 911 Call Center is operating at the highest standards as possible.’”
NBC4: DC lags as Metro steps up fare evasion enforcement; new bill aims to help. “‘I believe we will be more successful in stopping some of the violent crime when we could have an enforcement mechanism for fare evasion,’ she said.”
WATCH: 7News: 'You need to be held accountable': D.C. councilmember discusses juvenile justice. “‘I think what's really important here when we have people perpetrating crimes who are juveniles, that there's accountability for our young people in the juvenile justice system. Being tried as a young person or as a juvenile does not mean and should not mean that there's no accountability. We have a juvenile justice system for kids who are less than 18 and an adult system, which is a different system. Regardless of your age, you need to be held accountable if you are committing a heinous act and violating another victim's right to peacefully enjoy their space or in more egregious incidents of violence,’ Pinto said.”
Washington Post: Big cities seek police chiefs in a critical time for law enforcement. “Pinto said the next police chief should be a ‘true thought partner and collaborator’ who ‘understands where the District has come from in terms of our efforts to improve accountability in our police department.’”
WTOP: You paid your Metro fare. Metro police might soon stop the people who don’t in DC. “‘I have continued to hear from members of the public who are on the system every day, how frustrated they are with repeated instances of fare evasion,’ said Pinto. While she agrees that no one should go to jail for hopping over a turnstile, she wants to give Metro Transit Police the ability to enforce the current $50 fine if they do choose to evade the fare.”