Washington, D.C., under the leadership of Democrat Mayor Muriel Bowser, has declared a public emergency due to a significant rise in juvenile crime and opioid fatalities, aiming to bolster the coordination and implementation of aid agreements between local, federal and district authorities to combat the escalating crime rates.
In 2022, a notable increase in crime was observed after Matthew Graves, the U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia, chose not to prosecute 67% of arrestees. This decision has been linked to a 35% increase in criminal homicides in 2023, with 222 incidents reported so far.
The district reached over 200 killings by August 12, marking the earliest point since the late 1990s to hit this grim milestone. According to a WalletHub study released in October, D.C. now ranks 173rd in safety among 182 American cities, a decline from its previous position at 168.
The situation in D.C. has become so dire that some residents liken it to a “war zone.” Police data from the first nine months of 2023 reveals alarming statistics: 458 juveniles arrested for serious crimes including robbery, carjacking, homicide and assault; 151 juveniles arrested specifically for carjackings, representing 66% of all carjacking arrests; and a total of 863 carjackings reported. Additionally, juvenile fatalities are alarmingly high, with 97 juveniles shot, 15 fatally, in just the last five weeks. Five of these deaths occurred while the victims were on court-ordered electronic monitoring.
“This number alone tells us that we have to provide more intervention for kids who are in trouble,” Mayor Bowser said. “To that end, this public emergency will allow us to increase capacity more quickly and efficiently across the continuum of placements for kids that are ordered by judges into care.”
The public emergency declaration will also address the opioid crisis in the capital. Fatal opioid-related overdoses have more than doubled from 213 in 2018 to 461 in 2022, with 96% of these fatalities linked to fentanyl.
Former President Donald Trump, commenting on the situation, vowed to restore law and order to D.C. if reelected. He described Washington, D.C., as a “dirty, crime-ridden death trap” on Truth Social, promising that his election platform would include taking over and revitalizing the city, with a focus on safety.
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