Judiciary Committee Update - Secure DC Plan and Start of Legislative Session

Posted by
V. Casarrubias
October 6, 2023

Dear Neighbor,

Preventing and reducing violence in DC is my top priority, which is why I shared my Secure DC Plan to improve public safety on the first day of the Council’s Fall legislative session last month. Secure DC is a comprehensive package of laws, interventions, and strategies that target every angle of public safety. My plan builds on the substantial budget investments passed by the Committee on the Judiciary and Public Safety and the successful passage of my emergency legislation earlier this year to address crime.  

My common-sense Secure DC Plan will improve safety by preventing crime and ending cycles of violence, ensuring accountability for perpetrators of violent crimes, and increasing government supports and oversight. The Secure DC Plan will drive the Committee’s agenda this fall.

I want to highlight just a few of the many initiatives in my Secure DC Plan that will practically and tangibly improve safety for residents across the District. My Secure DC Plan will:

  1. Expand the legal tools available to hold perpetrators of crime accountable by expanding gun and carjacking charges and pretrial detention for those who commit dangerous or violent crimes. Secure DC also establishes a taskforce to develop a new plan around pre-arrest diversion for low-level offenses to ensure accountability while providing access to mental health and financial resources that are often lacking and needed in these cases.  
  2. Establish security patrols, lighting, and cameras for our bus and transit stations, recreation spaces and schools, and commercial corridors to deter crime from occurring in all eight wards, and increase availability of recreation spaces;  
  3. Provide hiring and retention incentives to fill critical positions at our public safety, human services, and health agencies to ensure speedy and accurate response to resident needs. These incentives will increase the hiring of excellent staff and fill vacancies at the Departments of Behavioral Health, Human Services, Corrections, Youth Rehabilitation Services, and Office of Unified Communications – agencies that must provide reliable, accurate, and quick responses to keep residents safe.

I hear from residents every day about how desperately they want to feel and be secure in their communities, which is why I shared my Secure DC Plan to improve public safety with the public to ensure residents, stakeholders, and my colleagues at the Council have the opportunity to weigh in and improve safety for all residents. I encourage everyone to be involved and make your voice heard. You can find all upcoming hearings here.

Last week, I also held a roundtable on the nomination of Pamela Smith to be the Chief of Police for Metropolitan Police Department. I am hopeful in her vision for MPD and for the District. Thank you to the dozens of residents who testified and emphasized that it takes a village to address the harm in our communities. We each play a role, whether we are caring for loved ones, working in our schools, or leading in government. I look forward to a continued collaboration with MPD as we build toward a safer and more secure DC.  

Yours in service,


911 Operations: Yesterday, the Committee on the Judiciary and Public Safety held a public hearing on the Office of United Communications’ 911 operations and on my bill to improve transparency and accuracy at OUC. OUC Director McGaffin and DC Auditor Kathy Patterson joined and provided critical insight into changes that have been made and improvements that are still needed at OUC. I am grateful for all of the public witnesses who joined and shared their powerful testimony that really captured how essential accuracy and reliability are to rebuilding trust with our emergency response systems. I look forward to incorporating the ideas and concerns they shared as I seek to move the bill before the Council. You can watch the hearing here.  

Metro Safety: On October 11th, I will hold a hearing on my Metro Safety Amendment Act to enable civil enforcement of fare evasion. Anyone wishing to testify may sign-up at least 24 hours prior to the start of the hearing here or at (202) 724-8058. Witnesses will receive information on how to join before the hearing.  

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 during registration or by contacting Ms. Aukima Benjamin, Committee Manager to the Committee on the Judiciary and Public Safety, at (202) 724-8058 or via e-mail at judiciary@dccouncil.gov.  

Make sure to check out the Council calendar to stay up to date on upcoming hearings.

Chairwoman Pinto has been on the ground, working directly with our public safety partners to address crime and violence in the city.

Chairwoman Pinto held the first hearing of her Secure DC Plan on measures to enhance accountability for offenders and protections for victims.

Chairwoman Pinto toured the Department of Youth Rehabilitative Services’ Youth Services Center, where some youth are held as they await trial, to discuss services and improvements with Director Abed.  

Chairwoman Pinto attended a performance by returning citizens and hosted by Attorney General Brian Schwalb to increase empathy and understanding between District officials and people who have been justice-involved.

Chairwoman Pinto held a roundtable on the nomination of Pamela Smith to be Chief of the Metropolitan Police Department and discussed the need for a whole of government approach to improve safety.

Chairwoman Pinto met with Deputy Mayor for Public Safety and Justice Lindsey Appiah to discuss their continued collaboration to reduce violence and ensure the effective functioning of our public safety apparatus.

Chairwoman Pinto spoke at the Ward 2 Jobs Not Guns Youth Career Workshop to build up our young people’s toolkits to create an abundant and successful future.

Chairwoman Pinto spoke at the Re-Entry Action Network about the importance of providing job training, stable housing, and wrap-around services to ensure the safe transition for returning citizens.  

Chairwoman Pinto attended the Right Direction Awards to honor District youth for their resilience and leadership to positively impact their communities.

Chairwoman Pinto hosted the annual 9/11 memorial and remembrance event at Engine 13 on behalf of the Council with Mayor Bowser to honor the sacrifice and dedication of our first responders.

Chairwoman Pinto hosted a community forum on Public Safety solutions for Chinatown with Acting MPD Chief Pamela Smith, Assistant Chief Tasha Bryant, Deputy Mayor Lindsey Appiah, US Attorney Matthew Graves, Deputy Attorney General Elizabeth Weiser, Metro Transit Police, and over 100 neighbors at MLK Library.

Chairwoman Pinto joined National Night Out at Rosedale Recreation Center with the Metropolitan Police Department and the Department of Parks and Recreation to bolster community-police relations.

Chairwoman Pinto joined Deputy Mayor for Public Safety and Justice Lindsey Appiah to meet with the DC Chamber of Commerce to discuss public safety in our communities.

Chairwoman Pinto met with the Alliance of Concerned Men to hear about the transformative work to bring conflict resolution programs to schools and support our young people.

Chairwoman Pinto joined ANC 6B to discuss plans to improve public safety and her emergency bill requiring the Office of United Communications to publicly share data each month on causes of errors and call-to-answer times.

Washington Post Editorial Board: How to keep the most violent suspects off the streets in D.C. “Set to expire on Oct. 18, the emergency law also could use enhancement, as Council member Brooke Pinto (D-Ward 2), the chair of the public safety committee, is proposing. On Monday, she unveiled a comprehensive package of crime-fighting legislation for the council to consider, drafted with input from police and prosecutors. ‘We must address the gaps in our legal system,’ said Ms. Pinto.”

Washington Post: Carjacking of congressman renews cries to quell D.C. crime. “Last month, D.C. Council member Brooke Pinto (D-Ward 2) introduced legislation that would expand the definition of carjacking to make it easier for police and prosecutors to charge suspects. 'Too many neighbors across the District have been traumatized and victimized by these crimes,’” she said.

WATCH: FOX5: Councilmember introduces crime bill to address DC's rise in violent crime. “‘I hear from residents in all eight wards every day that public safety is the number one issue on their minds. People shouldn’t have to deal with the level of violence we’re experiencing. I think it is fundamentally important that all of us across government work together,’ Councilmember Brooke Pinto said.”

Washington Post: Pinto releases plans to tackle crime as violent summer ends. “‘This package certainly does not solve all of the inequities and challenges that we’re experiencing in our city, many of which play a major role in leading to more crime,’ Pinto said. ‘What I will say is that this bill and package has a number of initiatives that will prevent crime,’ such as setting up a hospitality industry program at the D.C. jail and increasing emergency communications and surveillance along public transit.”

WATCH: NBC4: New public safety bill introduced in DC Council. “‘Ensuring accountability when folks commit violent crimes in our city, doing a better job to prevent crime from happening and end cycles of violence, and strengthening our government coordination and supports for our agencies,’ said Pinto. ‘We’ve seen a 25 percent reduction in violent crime in the months since that [emergency] bill passed as compared to the previous month.’”

Watch: WUSA9: “’What I think about every day are the people who've lost their lives, the families who've lost a loved one, and the communities that are so rampant by gun violence right now,’ said Pinto, who is Chair of DC Council’s Committee on the Judiciary and Public Safety. Pinto’s plan includes an amendment to the DC code giving MPD the right to stop and search someone without a search warrant or probable cause if that person is outside of their home or business and: That person is on probation, parole or supervised release for a gun crime; or That person is on supervised release awaiting trial for a violent crime.”

DCist: D.C. Councilmember Focuses On Increased Penalties And Policing In Slate Of Public Safety Bills. “'I invite the public and anybody with ideas or interest to be a part of it; it’s also another reason why we broke them up into various different parts … So that people can really participate in pieces that are of most interest to them, or that they have the expertise or lived experience in, to make sure this package is as strong, effective, fair, and responsive as we can.’”

WATCH: WUSA9: ‘Neighbors shouldn't have to live in fear’: Councilmember Pinto introduces legislation to address public safety. “‘I go to all eight wards in the District and speak to residents, visitors, and businesses every day who are suffering,’ said Councilmember Brooke Pinto.”

WJLA: DC mayor, councilmembers host 9/11 remembrance ceremony. “‘Our first responders do everything they can every single day to keep our residents safe when we experience crisis and greater risk,’ Councilmember Pinto said. ‘As I've come to know more and more first responders each day, I'm so moved by the dedication, grit, and courage you all provide to all of us.’”

Washington Post: 40% of D.C. 911 center shifts understaffed last month, data shows. “‘Launching the dashboard is an important step toward transparency and accuracy at OUC, our 911 call center,’ council member Brooke Pinto (D-Ward 2), who chairs the public safety and judiciary committee, said in a statement. ‘I and my team are reviewing all the data to identify patterns and areas in need of improvement not only in operations but also in the data posted.’”

Washington Post: 97 D.C. neighborhood leaders urge change in city response to 911 calls. “‘I take very seriously any time that our community is calling for change, and I think it is very indicative that so many ANC commissioners have signed on to this letter,’ Pinto said.”

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.