Melissa Koenig, New York Post, October 24, 2023
Progressive DC Mayor Muriel Bowser proposed new legislation that would roll back much of the progressive police reforms passed by the city council following the death of George Floyd in March 2020.
Bowser’s announcement Monday came as the nation’s capital faces a spike in violent crime. Critics have long said the reforms made it more difficult for Metropolitan Police Department officers to enforce public safety.
In addition to nixing the liberal reforms, the new proposal would target organized retail thefts and open-air drug markets in the city.
“We need to act now, and we need to send the strong message that violence is not acceptable in our city — and this perception that people have that you can commit a brazen crime and get away with it has got to stop,” the mayor said at a news conference Monday.
“We have to have a policy environment that allows us to recruit and retain officers, and not lose our officers to the surrounding jurisdictions because our policy environment makes them scared to do their job,” she added.
Bowser’s proposal — dubbed the Addressing Crime Trends Now, or ACT Now, bill — would specifically clarify or amend parts of the Comprehensive Policing and Justice Amendment Act, a progressive reform passed by city officials in December, according to Bloomberg.
Speaking of the police reforms this legislation seeks to undo, Bower said the changes “don’t match the daily practice of safe and effective policing.”
But, she added, “I think some of the reforms have made our communities less safe.”
Bowser went on to describe the suggested rules as “plain common sense” as she seeks to crack down on open-air drug markets and organized retail thefts.
The new bill would make it illegal for anyone over 16 to wear a mask in a public area or demonstration with the intent of engaging in criminal activity, and make it a felony to shoplift more than $1,000 worth of merchandise or to steal 10 or more items worth at least $250 over the course of 30 days.
It also spells out first-degree penalties for fencing stolen goods or engaging in return fraud, while also creating a new crime for organizing retail theft punishable by up to 15 years in prison.
The ACT Now bill would also restore the war on drugs-era police chief’s authority to declare an area a drug-free zone.
Homicides in DC have reached their highest rate in more than 20 years in just the first six months of this year, and the number of carjackings committed in the city surpassed 800 this weekend — a 108% increase over the same time last year.
Overall, violent crime is up 41%.