Judiciary Committee Update - Secure DC Updates and Correcting the Record

Posted by
V. Casarrubias
February 16, 2024

Dear Neighbor,

This week, I am sharing updates on the passage of Secure DC during its first of two Council votes and elaborating on some important provisions of the bill. The next vote is on March 5th, and you can contact your at-large Councilmembers to voice your support.

Secure DC Updates

I am very pleased to share that on February 6th, the Council unanimously passed my Secure DC Omnibus in its first of two votes! Secure DC includes over one-hundred legislative interventions and solutions that will make sustainable and meaningful improvements across the District to prevent crime, ensure accountability when crime does occur, and improve government coordination to make DC residents safer and more secure in our communities.

Getting to this point required months of dedicated efforts to craft legislation and respond to community feedback, and I am committed to getting Secure DC passed and funded in the next few weeks. I am grateful to the thousands of residents, stakeholders, colleagues, and partners who testified at public hearings, joined public safety walks in all eight wards, and met with me to share their needs, advocate for change, and help shape and inform this landmark legislation.

There was one amendment that was adopted and I opposed that I want to highlight, as I will be fighting to get the provision back in the bill before the second and final vote. Please also find below a deeper dive to clarify some of the provisions in the bill.

DNA Testing

I often discuss the importance of our US Attorney’s Office (USAO) and Office of the Attorney General (OAG) for prosecuting and closing cases. DNA testing is a critical tool for our law enforcement partners to assist in accurate prosecution, drive down recidivism, and bring justice to and support victims of crime.

My Secure DC Omnibus allowed for the collection of DNA at arrest for felonies and sexual abuse misdemeanors with the requirement that it only be analyzed and tested after an individual is charged or a judicial finding of probable cause is established. If a charge were dropped or a defendant acquitted, Secure DC required the automatic expungement of those DNA samples. DNA collection is a common-sense practice used in 31 states that has been shown to improve case closures for unsolved cases (particularly for sexual assault and homicide), reduce recidivism, and reduce the number of crimes committed.

I am deeply disappointed that this important, common-sense measure was amended out of Secure DC, and I will be working with my colleagues to ensure DNA analysis is included in the final package to hold repeat offenders accountable and better deliver justice to victims.

Correcting the Record

Over the last few weeks, I have seen a number of misrepresentations of some of the provisions in the bill, so I want to clarify what is actually in the bill regarding these interventions.

Drug Free Zones

Secure DC reinstates the authority for MPD to declare drug free zones to disrupt hotspots of drug activity and crime and includes strict public notice requirements. Only if individuals continue to congregate for the purposes of criminal or drug activity after being asked to disperse will they then be in violation of the drug free zone. Individuals seeking medical or drug treatment within the zone, or who are not engaged in illegal activity (such as waiting for a bus or going to their home), would not be subject to the drug free zone.

The bill specifically aims provide an additional tool for MPD to disrupt areas where there are large numbers of recent reports of violent or dangerous crimes or drug arrests, homicides, and evidence that illegal drugs are being sold and distributed in the public space. This is an important tool to allow residents to reclaim public space that in certain places is being abused for illegal and dangerous activity.

Mask Law

As we have seen a proliferation in full-face masks used in the course of committing crimes, Secure DC allows officers to make necessary investigative stops when an individual is wearing a mask or face covering with the intent to commit a crime, intimidate, threaten, or harass (pg. 43-44 of the Committee Print). Religious coverings, medical masks, coverings for the cold, and coverings during a protest are all lawful uses of face coverings and have never been prohibited, and the provision in Secure DC does not change this. This provision was in place before the COVID-19 pandemic and was used in limited circumstances.


Secure DC makes clarifications to allow officers to restrict movement in the course of arrest. The ban on chokeholds and asphyxiation is still in place – Secure DC never made changes to the ban on chokeholds or asphyxiating restraints and continues to prohibit those practices.

Absent a serious/deadly use of force, Secure DC allows officers to review BWC footage prior to submitting an incident report to ensure the accuracy and credibility of such reports.

You can learn more about Secure DC and the Committee’s work at brookepintodc.com and reach out to my team at judiciary@dccouncil.gov.  

Our city must be a safe place for residents in all eight wards, and I will keep working every day to improve safety and drive down the unacceptable levels of gun violence and crime our neighborhoods are experiencing.

Yours in Service,


The Committee on the Judiciary and Public Safety – along with all other Committees at the Council – will be holding performance oversight hearings through the rest of February until March 1st. Performance oversight hearings allow the Council and residents to receive updates from government agencies, press agency Directors on the progress and implementation of laws and investments over the last year, and hear resident testimony about their experiences receiving services from District agencies. Members of the public are invited to provide testimony at all of our hearings or watch the hearings.

The last two performance oversight hearings for the Committee will be in two weeks. Next, on February 27th, the Committee will hear from the Criminal Code Reform Commission and the Deputy Mayor for Public Safety and Justice. On February 28th, the Committee will hear from the Office of the Attorney General.

You can find information on all upcoming hearings at the Council and sign up to testify here.

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 a 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.  

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

Chairwoman Pinto participated in a discussion on public safety hosted by the DC Nightlife Council with Attorney General Schwalb, Councilmembers Charles Allen and Robert White, and MPD representatives to speak with members of the hospitality community about their experiences with safety.

Chairwoman Pinto held committee performance oversight hearings for DC Fire & EMS, the Department of Corrections, and Corrections Information Council.

Chairwoman Pinto joined Mayor Bowser to open the District's first Safe Commercial Corridors Hub at 6th/H St NW in Chinatown, which will provide real-time supports and resources to respond to crime and address health and human services needs.

Chairwoman Pinto held a performance oversight hearing on the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner and Office of Unified Communications.

Chairwoman Pinto held a performance oversight hearing on the Criminal Justice Coordinating Council, Mayor’s Office of Women's Policy and Initiatives, and Office of Neighborhood Safety and Engagement Office of Neighborhood.

Chairwoman Pinto held a performance oversight hearing on the Office of Police Complaints and the Metropolitan Police Department.

Chairwoman Pinto attended the performance oversight hearing on the Department of Health and Human Services to investigate the implementation of and needed improvements for DC’s housing assistance programs.

Chairwoman Pinto met with representatives from DC Night Council and the Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington to discuss ways to ensure safety and success for our workers and businesses.

Team Pinto met with Empower Ed to discuss opportunities to improve outcomes and supports for students as a critical element to ensure the safety and wellbeing for young people.  

DCist: D.C. Opens New ‘Hub’ In Chinatown To Boost Police Presence And Social Services. “The hub, said Ward 2 Councilmember Brooke Pinto, is a way of signaling to residents that 'we get it, we know that the status quo is not acceptable,' and 'we are turning things around’... In addition to standing up the hubs, the city is also awarding grants to organizations working on safety-related projects in areas in downtown, Shaw and Adams Morgan. Pinto’s omnibus crime bill, 'Secure DC,' would expand the Safe Commercial Corridor grant program further; it passed its first of two D.C. Council votes last week.

The Washington Business Journal: Viewpoint: 3 ways to reduce D.C. crime and increase public safety. “We are encouraged that the D.C. Council passed the first reading of the Secure D.C. crime bill, also introduced by Councilmember Pinto, on Feb. 6. Now, they must quickly and unanimously hold the second reading to get this bill enacted into law and fully funded by the mayor. The Secure D.C. crime bill was carefully crafted with input from stakeholders across the District including the mayor, council, MPD and U.S. attorney”

The Washington Examiner: DC Council passes sweeping crime omnibus bill in first of two votes. “My Secure DC Omnibus legislation passed the first of two votes before the Council with overwhelming support,’ Pinto said in a statement following the bill’s passage. ‘Secure DC’s 100+ interventions will make sustainable and meaningful improvements to prevent crime, ensure accountability when crime does occur, and improve government coordination to make DC residents safer and more secure in our communities.”

Listen: WTOP: Sweeping anti-crime bill gets preliminary approval from DC Council. “I am hopeful and believe that today’s action sends a very clear message that we are turning a safer and more secure direction. It is long past due,’ said Council member Brooke Pinto of Ward 2, chair of the D.C. Council Committee on the Judiciary and Public Safety.”

Watch: WUSA9: Secure DC bills do not ban all gatherings of two or more people | VERIFY. “The omnibus does not criminalize gatherings, but it allows officers to arrest people who refuse to disperse under limited circumstances... Individuals seeking medical or drug treatment within the zone, or who are not engaged in illegal activity (such as waiting for a bus or going to your home), would be exempt from the designation.”

Watch: FOX 5: Secure DC Crime Bill: What’s in the Secure DC Omnibus Amendment Act of 2024? “The Secure DC Omnibus Amendment Act of 2024 was introduced by Public Safety Committee Chair Councilmember Brook Pinto last year. The bill is a collection of different laws proposed to address what Mayor Muriel Bowser has repeatedly referred to as gaps in the system.”

Listen: WTOP: The office handling DC’s 911 calls says things are improving, but is it enough? “'The most frequent concern I hear from residents about OUC … is around call times and repeated incidents where folks are telling us that they called and nobody answered at all,' said Pinto... ‘We have a trust problem right now in the public with OUC,' Pinto said. 'I think due in large part to a lack of transparency about the finalized analysis of these reports and investigations, not just a recognition that an error happened, but what was actually done about it.’”

The Washington Post: D.C. Council prepares to take first vote on sweeping anti-crime legislation. “Pinto has pointed to an array of new or expanded tools included in the bill that she said are intended to help police solve crimes, such as public safety grants to expand security cameras or emergency callboxes in busy corridors. The District would also join more than two dozen states in allowing police to collect DNA evidence from suspects at the time of arrest, versus after conviction.”

Watch: WUSA9: DC Council to vote on 'Secure DC' crime bill on Tuesday. “During a Jan. 30 recent public safety briefing, Mayor Muriel Bowser told reporters that the District was not doing enough to deal with guns. She urged the Council to approve the ‘Secure DC' legislation.”

Watch: FOX 5: 3 DC officers shot in Southeast: Suspect arrested after intense barricade situation. “'There are a lot of individuals with guns on the street, and I know Secure D.C. is part of the legislation that we're asking our council members to pass,' [MPD Chief] Smith said... 'And so I’m asking that we will certainly do everything we can to pass Secure D.C., especially the portion of that bill where we need to increase the penalties for firearms.’"

Watch: WUSA9: DC Council committee hears from supporters, opponents of Secure DC legislation. “The committee chair, Councilmember Brooke Pinto, said crime is up significantly across D.C. and police play a critical role in combatting it. 'Policing is not the only answer to these issues, but it is an extremely important

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