AMAC Exclusive – By Andrew Abbott
The Washington Commanders received some welcome news last week when they learned that rookie running back Brian Robinson Jr. is healing faster than expected and may be able return as early as week five of the NFL season after being shot twice last month in broad daylight during an attempted armed robbery. For Robinson, who reportedly struggled to wrestle the firearm away from his assailants before being shot, the story appears to be headed for a happy ending, and the third-round draft selection out of Alabama still expects to play a feature role in the Commanders’ offense this season. But thousands of other DC residents have not been so lucky, and have had their lives upended and destroyed by the lawlessness gripping the nation’s capital city.
While Robinson’s shooting has certainly been one of the most high-profile crimes of the year, his story is hardly unique. Along the H-Street corridor where Robinson was attacked – supposedly an area where the city was investing more law enforcement resources – violent crime is up nearly 90% from last year. Armed robberies like the one Robinson fell victim to are up more than 100%. Less than 12 hours after Robinson was shot, a woman was stabbed just three blocks away in another robbery. A few hours after that, a third person was shot in the same neighborhood.
Violent crime in the nation’s capital is up several percentage points so far in 2022 after what was then a nearly two-decade high in 2021. Homicides are up 3% this year, with 150 murders in the District through the first week of September, compared to 146 in all of 2021. DC has also already seen more than 1,000 assaults with a deadly weapon this year, along with more than 760 robberies and nearly 2,500 vehicle thefts. Carjackings in particular have become a major problem.
DC Mayor Muriel Bowser and some city leaders have so far paid lip service to addressing the crime problem, including deploying so-called “nightlife teams” and promising to boost police funding and resources. But well-intended or not, those initiatives either haven’t materialized or haven’t been effective. To make matters worse, the city council is now reportedly “considering an overhaul of the city’s criminal code, which includes controversial proposals to eliminate carjacking as a separate crime and to reduce penalties for armed robbery and other infractions.” Along with the city’s already lax prosecution and sentencing policies, criminals may soon become even more emboldened by the prospect of a far more lenient sentence if they are caught.
While crime has been a persistent problem in the District for decades, it became far more pronounced during the summer of 2020 in the wake of George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis. Bowser did little to condemn the weeks of rioting that rocked the city in the weeks that followed, even going so far as to rename one street close to the center of the unrest “Black Lives Matter Plaza,” complete with the slogan emblazoned in yellow lettering on the blacktop. Soon thereafter, the DC City Council voted 12-0 to cut the police budget and put a freeze on hiring new police. Like many other cities, the City Council soon backtracked amid a severe crime spike, but the damage to officer recruitment, retention, and morale was done. DC Police Chief Robert Contee estimated that his force lost 300 officers in 2021 alone, and the department is now offering $20,000 bonuses for new hires.
The situation is so dire in DC that even the liberal media is admitting there is a problem. On Monday, the Washington Post Editorial Board penned a piece entitled “Violent crime is all too common in D.C.” The Editorial Board called on “D.C. officials — from the mayor to council members to prosecutors to judges” to “refrain from pointing fingers and making excuses for the violent crime that has made many in the city fearful to walk its streets.” Late last month, the Post ran another story asking “whether the city is doing enough to keep its residents safe — including in the areas where officials have invested additional resources to curb crime.”
As a general rule for Democrats, if the Washington Post has turned on you, things must be very, very bad. But for the residents of the nation’s capital, the sympathies of journalists are likely of little comfort. The reality is that until voters are ready to elect leaders who will actually empower police and take violent criminals off the street for good, little is likely to change.
Andrew Abbott is the pen name of a writer and public affairs consultant with over a decade of experience in DC at the intersection of politics and culture.
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