Mayor Bowser's public safety speech (2023)

Public safety speech as delivered

Former Malcolm X Elementary School


Good morning everyone. And welcome to Congress Park in Big Ward 8. Big Ward 8!

I would like to thank Counselor LaRuby May, who brings energy, passion and accountability to her work to provide service, opportunity, vision and hope to the people of Ward 8.

Thank you Councilman May.

I want to thank you Delores for being everyone's grandmother.

I want to thank you for caring about the community, for being that trusted voice and face, that hug or nudge when needed, and thank you for caring about Congress Heights and the people who use this great neighborhood.

Many of you may remember that during my district speech I made a pledge and I believe that we will take concrete steps to make Black Lives Matter more than just a hashtag.

In our seven and a half months into office, we started to work and I promise you today that we will finish the job.

As the councilor said, and I'd like to thank my friends on the board who supported us in this, we've expanded Marion Barry's summer youth program so that it can serve more people, 22- to 24-year-olds.

For the first time, we opened our fire academy, which had been closed for over eight years.

We are committed to college preparatory education for our boys so they can take advantage of every opportunity in the District of Columbia.

We give adults a fair chance at a career in public service.

You heard me call it DPW and DGS Academy and in our first 100 days we started LEAP Academy to give people a chance for a high paying job.

We created the deputy mayor for greater [economic] opportunity, as promised. The Deputy Mayor's job is to promote and spread the prosperity of our city throughout all eight boroughs of the District of Columbia.

And today we're going to discuss how we can make our neighborhoods safer and stronger.

We're gathered here at the old Malcolm X schoolhouse in Ward 8 - an area that has seen almost twice as many murders this year compared to last year.

Some critics have said that today's event will be about the imprisonment of black men.

I'm here to tell you, that's not why we're here.

We're not here to talk about arresting black men, but how we can save their lives.

I am accompanied by members of our community. I am joined by the city police cadets. Let's give them a round of applause.

Each of these people is committed in one way or another to improving life in their communities across the District of Columbia. I was here in Congress Park last week after a minor skirmish between children tragically resulted in an illegal weapon being used to kill a mother and injure her child.

I said then, and I say it again today, that it was one of the saddest days of my life.

When I met with local residents, I not only asked what I could do to make the neighborhood safer, but also what we could do together. They wanted a way out, they wanted a fresh start – even if it meant leaving their homeland.

I am very pleased, and I know I speak for Council members, when I say that this administration wants to ensure that not just the residents of Congress Park, but all residents of the district have a safer, stronger neighborhood.

I would like to confirm the presence of the Chairman of the Board, Phil Mendelson.

Brandon Todd, 4th ward council member.

7th Ward Council Member, Yvette Alexander.

At-Large Advisor, Vincent Orange.

(Video) Mayor Bowser Provides Public Safety Update, 7/17/21

...who worked with Councilor LaRuby May to ensure that Ward 8 and Congress Park have everything they need.

I want to tell the people of Congress Park that I heard you... I'm with you... and we stand with all the neighborhoods and families that have suffered violent crime.

This year, the district has suffered 103 casualties due to homicides.

We've seen the same increase in homicides that is happening in many cities across the country.

But this shared experience cannot and must not ease our pain. We refuse to let the district succumb to this national trend.

Every life is precious.

Any loss is unbearable.

And we will not stand by and watch these tragedies unfold in our neighborhood.

I know people want answers. Why is this happening? Why now and who is responsible? What is responsible?

I want to assure you that my government works on this principle, we will be open and transparent and tell the truth.

And here's the truth. There is no easy answer. Many died due to conflicts between family members, neighbors and even friends. Fight over meaningless things - bruised egos, perceived slips leading to tragedy over an illegal weapon.

We've seen fatal flare-ups between decades-old neighborhood rivalries, where a single street fight can quickly escalate into back-and-forth shootouts.

The use of synthetic drugs has increased – not synthetic marijuana, but synthetic drugs that can inhibit judgment and cause violence in people.

We also know that there are a small number of repeat offenders who are released from prison and, within a short period of time, either commit their next violent crime or become victims of violent crime themselves.

We face complex challenges, which is why I'm here to avoid giving half-truths or simplistic answers.

Despite what some might have you believe, there is no single reason or solution. never was never will be

Paying lip service to these issues is not leadership, so my administration has taken a multipronged approach to making the District of Columbia safer.

With the leadership of Chief Lanier, the courage of our law enforcement officers, the support of the District of Columbia Council, the support of our federal partners - like another son of Washington, US Attorney Vincent Cohen - and the help of this community and others - We respond quickly and vigorously.

And let me be clear: After 25 years of policing these streets, mobilizing officers and strategizing, building a force of highly skilled officers and police leaders, I have every confidence in thick and thin that Police Chief Cathy Lanier will be with us also lead this peak of crimes.

thanks boss

Let me tell you what we did:

We send more police to the streets - particularly in the communities hardest hit by crime. Working overtime, we have 182 more police officers on the streets in the most vulnerable areas of the city.

In addition, we have 235 officers working 12-hour shifts focused on narcotics...


I'm happy to talk to everyone, but for now let's talk about our plan.

That's what we're going to talk about now.

We also have 235 officers working 12-hour shifts focused on drugs, gangs and illegal weapons.

Since mid-June, we've committed and spent over a million dollars in overtime for the police.


Now I'm going to talk about our plan and I'm also going to talk about what we can do with the community. who's with me who's with me who's with me

Who's with me

Who's with me

(Video) Mayor Bowser Provides Public Safety Update, 5/29/18

Who's with me

Who's with me

Who's with me

Who's with me

Who's with me

So I will continue talking about our plans.

We thank you all for your comments and we'll have the opportunity to listen, but if you can't hear it, you won't know what the plan is.

So here's the rest of the plan.

That's why we've stepped up our efforts to find and arrest criminals and take away their firepower. We continue to have a higher closure rate than most cities our size. And from June 1st to August 10th, the MPD removed 435 illegal weapons from our streets.


Well, I love to hear from everyone, but if you believe in it and want to ensure that our policies support all of our citizens, then I suggest you listen.

Let me repeat the message Delores spoke about illegal guns.

Since June 10th, we have removed 435 illegal guns from our streets.

This summer alone, we've developed new tools to fight synthetic drugs.

We ask our federal partners to stand with us to keep our neighborhoods safe.

I've proposed the nation's most comprehensive police camera program - and I'm going to implement it!

We count on the support of the residents of the district to fight crime.

When I asked you to publicize synthetic drugs, you did.

When I asked for tips on illegal weapons, you called. You sent a message.

And when I asked you for information about murders, you helped the MPD close those cases.

And this is the information that the community and the police need. So we act vigorously. We are progressing. But my public safety team, led by Deputy Mayor Donahue, is constantly on the lookout for crime-fighting tools and tactics.

We use every possible resource to prevent crime, stop crime when it happens, and bring criminals to justice.

And as we approach the legislature, my immediate priority is to implement a comprehensive public safety agenda.

I will present a set of actions to the Board of the District of Columbia when it reconvenes on September 15th.

I expect the public and the Council to be active partners in drafting the legislation.

So, my friends say, Station 8 is important. Do you think they have to tell me that?

Do you think they have to tell me that?

I'll tell you... I promised the people of Ward 8 that they wouldn't see me every now and then, they wouldn't just see me around election time, they would see me whenever it mattered.

And then I have to tell you something about Muriel Bowser...she does what she says.

I don't expect the District of Columbia Council to adopt all of my proposals because we know that's not how the legislative process works. I informed the President of the Council, the President of the Judiciary and several members of the Council about the general elements of my agenda. And I want to thank you for your leadership and partnership with this administration to ensure that we act quickly to make our city safer.

And I'll tell you... every element of what I'm going to propose won't be easy. And I'm telling you, I will not be held back or scared when it comes to the safety of the people of the District of Columbia.

I was not elected mayor because I am afraid of making difficult decisions.

(Video) Mayor Bowser Provides Public Safety Update, 12/3/20

And I wasn't elected mayor because I'm afraid to do whatever it takes to spread prosperity in this District of Columbia.

Well, this public safety agenda won't just be words on paper. It is supported by a $15 million budget package that I will propose to the Board in a supplemental budget.

OK. Four Things.

First, we will send more workers to the streets.

I am willing to spend the money necessary to ensure a sufficient police presence to respond to this increase in crime.

I will fund more overtime needed to maintain presence for as long as necessary.

Where reasonable, we will use civilians rather than police to perform administrative tasks. We'll explore any opportunity to move officers from a desk to a police station.

We will use financial incentives to retain our most experienced directors as well as attract new ones.

Like many organizations, our police department is experiencing a pension bubble, exacerbated by the time it takes to recruit, select, and train qualified officers.

We fund the police union and are working with them to keep more officers.

Second, we will ensure that our officers have all the resources to prevent crime in our community.

The MPD relies heavily on information from the public to solve crimes. I propose an incentive program to provide grants to businesses, homeowners and churches to install crime cameras to protect us.

And to give our police the information they need and prosecutors the evidence to help bring people to justice.

I'm investing more resources in the forensic science department.

More criminal investigators who prioritize closing homicide cases will bring District of Columbia residents to justice.

In addition, we will expand our law enforcement agencies' access to data

GPS trackers to ensure we can keep people away from violent places.

Third, let's...

And that, I know, everyone wants to hear.

We will increase the sentence for anyone who commits a violent crime on our public transportation system... for any crime in our parks and recreation centers.

When getting on the subway bus, riding the subway, when visiting our parks and recreation centers, you must not endanger your life.


And like I said, I won't be scolded for telling the truth. It's time to draw a line in the sand.

Who's with me

Who's with me

Who's with me

Mr. Puryear, you mustn't stay here, sir.

You mustn't just stand there, sir.

Mr. Puryear, you mustn't stay here, sir.

Here's the fourth thing.

Number four, like I said, a small number of people... a small number of people...


(Video) Mayor Bowser Provides Public Safety Update, 5/26/22

... the people of the District of Columbia want to ensure that a small number of people do not disturb our peace.

Nearly half of those arrested for homicide in 2015 had previously been arrested for weapons.

And at least 21 of those arrested for manslaughter this year were on parole, on parole or awaiting trial.

If a person is on probation for a violent crime, we must do everything we can to make sure they don't have access to a gun.

No access to a weapon.

And if we find an illegal weapon in their quarters, we need to be able to use the full weight of the law and send them back to prison.

Now let me tell you what my proposal will do.

There have been false reports, you can say you don't want to hear the truth. They don't want you to hear about the law I'm proposing. But I'll tell you anyway.

There have been erroneous reports in the media that we want to give the police full power to search anyone, anytime, anywhere.

This is obviously wrong.

Firstly, this proposal deals with the demand for illegal weapons. It only applies to people convicted of a violent crime, such as murder, armed robbery or sexual assault.

Let's be clear. This is not a stop and review. My proposal limits searches to only the homes of people convicted of violent crimes.

Now let me talk about what we want to do for our affected communities and families.

We do the things we need to do to fight crime, and we do them. But we know that fighting crime is only part of the solution.

In the coming weeks, I will present proposals to the Council that will increase the employability of our returnees and strengthen community-police ties.

By doing things like eliminating fake traffic stops and changing the law on police aggression, we will reduce conflict between the community and the police.

We must also support our communities like Trinidad and Congress Heights and Benning Terrace and Woodland Terrace, which have experienced significant violence. And we need these communities to heal and address the root causes of violence.

Next week, we'll begin a neighborhood-centric approach that expands on community stabilization. We will help families and we will help entire neighborhoods. We will make full use of employment services and social services for families who need them. We will work to implement barriers for each family individually. We will do our part and we want families to do their part too.

We now know that the state alone cannot heal a community. We will provide grants to responsible community organizations and non-profit organizations and to effective and credible individual community members who join us. These grants are driven by our priorities and are designed to strengthen each community's ability to meet its own needs.

We're here at the Malcolm X School because when we were in Congress Park, Delores said there's no rest, there's no opportunity, and there's a closed school across the street, that's what I'm told. And I said, with Councilor May's support, guidance, encouragement, advocacy... that we would reopen the former Malcolm X School as a temporary emergency facility, where people who want to heal, where people who want a chance, come these doors go.

Well, we're going through a tough time, D.C. ... But Washington, D.C. it is a resilient city. We grow and prosper. But not for everyone.

I often say that my family has been here for five generations, through good times and bad. And I can tell you firsthand that we are nowhere near the bad old days of the 90s, nor are we going back.

Anyone who suggested otherwise would be ignoring the breathless facts.

We have concentrated problems and we will have concentrated solutions.

Everything on my agenda, and I know you will fight with me, focuses on improving opportunities for the people of the District of Columbia.

Do we need to have many conversations? You bet.

Do we have to listen to different opinions? I always have.

Do we have to make difficult decisions? That's why you elected me mayor.

And that's my job and I'm going to do it.

God bless you Ward 8.

God bless you Ward 8.

**end of remarks**

(Video) Mayor Bowser Hosts Public Safety Community Conversation, 1/28/17


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