The State of Public Safety in the District: Do You Agree With the Mayor?

Mayor Muriel Bowser delivered her annual State of the District address on Tuesday, March 22.  Below is an excerpt from her speech, as prepared. To read her full speech, click here.

Now, let’s look at the progress made since 2007 in another pillar of a strong community – public safety.

● 10 years of nationally recognized Chief of Police Cathy Lanier

● The Rosenbaum Task Force established the framework for EMS reform

● Crime rates heading in the right direction

● Fire Chief Gregory Dean lured from Seattle

● $500,000 for security camera rebates, to keep you safe

● Working toward 4,000 police – a force that looks like the community they serve

● Community grants and strong neighborhood partnerships

● And an unwavering commitment to those we serve

As a result of all this – and the thousands of first responders who work so hard every single day – we are a safer and stronger city. But like many big cities, we had some challenges this past year.….. too many homicides, and too many robberies.

So we’re approaching the challenge in a number of ways. And I want to be very clear about something. I believe the best way to fight crime is to give people a fighting chance.

I have met so many young men and women who feel left out of our prosperity. They’re not looking for a handout. They’re just looking for a hand up. So we are extending our hands.

Whether it’s the LEAP Academy…….Career Connections…..or the Marion Barry Summer Youth Employment Program, we are giving our most vulnerable residents a path they never knew existed.

And that includes returning citizens. Next year, my Administration will take over operations of the DC Jail, including the Correctional Treatment Center. This will allow us to bring back more of our federal prisoners sooner – so we can give them extra support and services before they head home.

We will enhance job training and mental health services. We will do more to reconnect family members and loved ones. Addressing those root causes of crime is our starting point.

We are also keeping our Metropolitan Police Department on the cutting edge – with tools and best practices – that prevent crime, and help us solve crimes when they happen. We are growing our police force to protect our growing city…..thanks to the support of Councilmember McDuffie, we will make it easier for those experienced officers from military and other police departments to join our ranks.

And this year, you will see a public safety academy at our very own Anacostia High School!

We will continue to put in place the policies and practices that keep the trust between our residents and law enforcement.

And that includes implementing the most progressive – and most transparent – Body Worn Camera program in the country! Because we believe that transparency and accountability strengthen our community.

By the end of this month, more than 650 more police officers will be equipped with a Body Worn Camera. And by the end of this year, every single patrol officer will be wearing one!

That means Brianne Nadeau will see them in Ward 1, and Yvette Alexander will know all of the officers in Ward 7 wear them too.

A strong MPD is fundamental to our safety, and so are our fire department and emergency services. Thanks to a new law spearheaded by Councilmember Cheh, we now have more safety and health protections for our firefighters.

But there is more we can do — more we must do – to strengthen our emergency services. And you will soon start to see tangible signs of EMS reform

Between 2002 and 2015, despite our growing city, the District put out the same number of ambulances on the street each and every day.

The city grew, but the number of ambulances didn’t. So we increased that number by 10 last spring. And starting next week, we will put as many as 30 more ambulances on the street during peak times.

But that’s not all. Over the next few months, we will put in place more than 30 more 911 call takers and dispatchers!

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