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D.C. mayor, police chief to meet with House representatives on crime

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D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D) and D.C. Police Chief Pamela A. Smith will meet with members of Congress behind closed doors Wednesday to discuss how federal authorities can help fight crime in the nation’s capital.

The meeting, confirmed by a spokesperson the House Oversight Committee, signals a more diplomatic approach to an issue that has repeatedly pitted federal legislators against local ones. Twice this year, Congress has voted to block D.C. bills over concerns about public safety; and hearings proved fertile ground for House Republicans to paint Democratic leadership as unequipped to address crime.

On Wednesday, however, public officials will discuss the hot-button topic away from cameras — hoping to make progress as the city is on track to finish 2023 with more homicides than any year since 1997.

Bowser, in a Monday news conference, said she was confident that her approach to crime would soon yield results, stressing that her administration was “trying everything” — both locally and through federal partnerships.

“We try it locally, we try it with partnerships with the feds, and we will drive it down,” said Bowser, who has proposed multiple bills this year aimed at reducing crime. “We will begin to see those efforts combine to work.”

Spokespeople from the mayor’s office and the D.C. police department declined to say what they hoped to get out of Wednesday’s meeting.

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At House subcommittee hearing, agreement that D.C.’s in a crime crisis

The meeting is hosted by members of the House Oversight Committee, chaired by Rep. James Comer (R-Ky.), which has called multiple hearings this year to scrutinize the state of public safety in D.C. A House Judiciary subcommittee also held a hearing in October, when Deputy Mayor of Public Safety and Justice Lindsey Appiah, among others, testified.

At that hearing, Appiah and other criminal justice experts stressed the uniqueness of D.C.’s criminal justice system, which relies on both federal and local agencies to curb crime.

While D.C. officials run the police department, the jail and some aspects of juvenile justice, most of the apparatus that governs the city’s criminal justice system is run by the federal government, including prosecuting adults and monitoring defendants pretrial or after they are released on parole or probation. The District’s status as a federal enclaves gives Congress sweeping oversight in local affairs, frustrating city leaders who say the lack of statehood robs them of an opportunities to implement cohesive crime fighting initiatives.

The uniqueness of D.C.’s relationship with Congress has been underscored by the number of federal officials who have become victims of crime in the city. Rep. Angie Craig (D-Minn.) was assaulted in the elevator of her D.C. apartment building in February. This fall, Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-Tex.) and an FBI agent were each robbed of their vehicles at gunpoint in separate incidents. They became two of more than 900 people in the District who have been carjacked this year, more than double the number of carjackings reported compared to the same time last year. Multiple congressional staffers have reported similar episodes of violence, including one man who was stabbed while picking up lunch on H street.

Peter Hermann contributed to this report.

Source: Washington Post

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