A statement from Councilmember Charles Allen, Chair of the Council's Committee on the Judiciary and Public Safety:
"The District is experiencing a spike in homicides – as are many major cities – and it is painful and incredibly disturbing to see how gun violence devastates a family, a block, and a community. Residents are understandably afraid, whether or not they’re directly impacted. The culture of gun violence harms us all; it makes us afraid to enjoy our neighborhoods and afraid to be in relationship with one another. But we also need to ask what we can do differently to end gun violence, rather than pushing for the status quo. Solutions shouldn’t be framed as “either/or” choices, and we need to challenge the assumption that our only effective response to violent crime is more police. Violent crime doesn’t come out of nowhere, and to a large extent, we can often predict who is most at-risk. That’s because we are living with the devastating effects following decades of our society disinvesting from social programs while increasing policing and pushing extreme penalties for crime.
It is tempting and familiar to turn to traditional “law and order” leadership when times are tough by arguing anything other than the status quo makes us “less safe.” We have neighborhoods where our government’s largest consistent investments are in two things: policing and jails. Solutions, hard work, and collaboration, not blame, will change the culture of gun violence, improve safety in communities, and rebuild trust with policing. The budget passed by the Council restores cuts and makes further investments that take significant steps in this direction: funding violence interruption and targeted programs to disrupt patterns of violent behavior, mental health services, jobs creation for neighbors to prevent recidivism, and investments in recreation centers in high-crime neighborhoods.
I’m sick of the gun violence too. We have been trying the same solutions with the same results: families broken by the criminal justice system while the next generation of people still choose to pick up a gun to settle personal disputes. The budget passed by the Council is balanced and will be certified by the CFO. We will build stronger communities through smart and just public safety solutions."