Washington D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser (D) announced a number of changes in police enforcement intended to crack down on her city’s high crime rate. The proposals come as Washington faced a significant increase in both crime and anti-police sentiment since 2020.
The proposed Addressing Crime Trends (ACT) Now Act would change how police interact with the public. This includes how police restrain potential suspects or pursue them in police vehicles.
The reforms to the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) would be the largest since a number of changes were criticized by conservatives.
“MPD continues to be a leader in fair and constitutional policing across this nation. They continue to work every day to have and keep the trust of our city,” the mayor said. “And this legislation won’t change that. It will, however, support the department in dealing with some of the negative consequences of the Comprehensive Police Adjustment and Injustice Amendment Act.
"It is infuriating and completely unacceptable that an American who is on Capitol Hill to serve her country cannot safely walk the streets of Washington, D.C." https://t.co/Z6BKR80mnp
— IJR (@TheIJR) October 23, 2023
Earlier this year, Congress rejected proposed changes to D.C.’s law enforcement under the Injustice Amendment Act. Republicans and 14 Democrats in the House rejected the new law, which would ban the use of chokeholds by police and would make public police disciplinary records. The act would have also made it more difficult to use riot gear and tear gas.
“Some of the changes that were made just don’t match the daily practice of safe and effective policing,” the mayor said.
Bowser said that D.C. residents had “expressed loud and clear to me in every venue you can imagine across this city that they are looking for solutions to help fill the gaps in our public safety ecosystem.” She said that Washington’s leadership needed to “send the strong message that violence is not acceptable in our city.”
The proposed changes came after several years of significant increases in both property and violent crime, making Washington one of the most dangerous cities in the country and backtracking much of Bowser’s earlier rhetoric surrounding police and crime.