DC mayor, attorney general trade blame amid spike in juvenile violence

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DC mayor, attorney general trade blame amid spike in juvenile violence

NEWYou can now listen to Fox News articles! Blame game, round two!Government officials in Washington, D.C., are trading barbs and pointing finger

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Blame game, round two!

Government officials in Washington, D.C., are trading barbs and pointing fingers after the rapid escalation in juvenile crime drew criticism for the government’s inability to control the city.

“Where does a 13-year-old get a firearm from? Where does two 15-year-olds get firearms from? But they go further to that to even use them in broad daylight … that’s unacceptable, and we’ve got to make sure there’s a mechanism of accountability in place to ensure that does not happen,” D.C. Police Chief Robert Contee said of the spike in youth violence, according to Fox 5.

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“It’s not that arrests aren’t being made,” Contee told reporters. “Where do we need to make adjustments in the system?

Mayor Muriel Bowser and Metropolitan Police Department Chief Robert Contee Nov. 29, 2021. 

Mayor Muriel Bowser and Metropolitan Police Department Chief Robert Contee Nov. 29, 2021. 
(Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)

“We have to look at the case beyond the point of the arrest and see what is actually happening. And what does that measure of accountability look like?”

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser chimed in with similar questions, pointing to the city court system as a possible weak link.

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“If it’s prosecuted, it goes to the court. The court can say, ‘No, this isn’t for us. You, we’re going to divert to this other agency.’ It could happen,” Bowser postulated.

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser
(Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)

House Oversight Committee Republicans previously sent a letter to Bowser over the rise in violent crime gripping the nation’s capital.

House Oversight Committee ranking member James Comer, a Kentucky Republican, led the committee Republicans in the letter blasting Bowser for allowing the city to deteriorate to a point “reminiscent of the 1990s.”

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“And you know juvenile crimes are prosecuted locally. They’re prosecuted by the attorney general for the District. So what happened? Those are questions that we have to ask,” Bowser responded.

D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine blasted out a series of messages on social media Saturday addressing questions about the city’s alleged gentle policies towards juvenile crime.

“Leadership is not about blaming. It’s about working together to reduce crime and increase public safety,” Racine said of the controversy. “My office prosecutes all violent crimes committed by juveniles where we have strong evidence, as the standard of proof is beyond a reasonable doubt, and where the arrest is constitutional. Anyone, including a young person, who commits a violent crime should be held accountable.”

D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine on Dec. 14, 2021.

D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine on Dec. 14, 2021.
(Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)

Racine distanced himself from anti-arrest or anti-police sentiment, clarifying that he felt prosecution was not at odds with servicing the community.

“Accountability is not inconsistent with our efforts to help them get the services and support they need so they are less likely to reoffend, making our communities safer,” Racine concluded. “To address the increases in violence, DC needs leadership & a clear, consistent, all-hands-on-deck response.”

Last year, the D.C. City Council voted to reduce Bowser’s $11 million funding proposal to hire more officers to $5 million and spent $6 million on safety programs to combat violence

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Washington, D.C., saw 198 murders in 2020, a 19% increase from 2019, Metropolitan Police Department data shows. In 2021, homicides surged to 226 – D.C.’s most since 2003.

While rivalries between gangs or crews may drive killings, the underlying disputes frequently stem from petty insults, criminologists and local officials told Fox News. These can often grow from disagreements over drugs or money or women, or sometimes even from a rapper in one crew disparaging another.

“These conflicts … can occur for surprisingly small things,” Thomas Abt, a senior fellow with the Council on Criminal Justice, told Fox News. “An insult on social media, a dispute over a girlfriend and so on.”

These types of incidents “have been around for a long time and have been driving most homicides in the United States,” but they “really took off in 2020 and into” 2021, Abt said.

Fox News’s Ethan Barton and Houston Keene contributed to this report.

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