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Jack Evans: Pass Mayor’s Omnibus Crime Bill

by Borderstan.com May 10, 2009 at 12:43 pm 0

Ward 2 Councilmember Jack Evans has written a posting on why the DC Council should pass Mayor Adrian Fenty’s Omnibus Crime Bill (Bill 18-138, Bill 18-151). The next DC Council hearing on the Omnibus Crime bill is in one week–Monday, May 18, at 10:30 a.m. at the John A. Wilson Building (1350 Pennsylvania Avenue NW), 5th Floor Council Chambers.

The bill is in the Committee on Public Safety and the Judiciary. The official meeting notice is here (PDF). If you want to testify on the bill, please contact Heidi Tseu at [email protected] or call her at (202) 724-8038; let her know by this Thursday, May 14, if you want to be on the testimony list.

Borderstan has had several earlier postings on the bill and related activity.

Following is Evans’ opinion piece.

From Jack Evans: DC Council Should Quickly Pass Mayor’s Omnibus Crime Bill

As we venture into springtime, and warmer weather months, it is important the city has all possible tools in place to ensure residents have a safe city. I support The Omnibus Anti-Crime Amendment Act of 2009 as introduced by Mayor Fenty, moving as fast as possible through the legislative process because there have been instances of increases in violent crimes during the summer months and all proactive measures we can take to prevent crime should be used.

In previous years, when necessary and typically after the fact, the city has taken emergency action to address the increase in crimes noted in warmer weather months. The Omnibus Anti-Crime bill proposes to implement programs that have shown to be working in other jurisdictions, and also covers a number of procedural and statutory revisions. In short, this bill aims to further protect residents’ safety.

This bill has a wide scope of areas included in it. Areas that will have the most significant impact on public safety include: firearms, witness protection, and gangs. The bill also addresses some “new” offenses including illegal possession of a firearm in a vehicle, and the use of a stolen vehicle to commit a crime of violence that would come with a minimum penalty of five years.

Regarding firearms, law abiding residents may keep handguns in their home for self protection. However, the city will NOT TOLERATE criminal acts committed with guns. The legislation proposes to create a gun offender registry requiring gun offenders to register with MPD and verify their information. It also increases mandatory minimum sentences for previously convicted felons if the previous felony was violent.

This increase in the mandatory minimum is essential to getting repeat offenders with guns off the streets, and this approach has been proven to be successful in other cities, including Richmond, VA. The bill also establishes a new crime of illegal possession of firearm in a vehicle, which would carry a penalty of not more than five years, a fine of $5,000 or both.

Regarding gangs, the bill authorizes the issuance of civil injunctions against criminal gangs that would declare their behavior a public nuisance and require prohibitions against specific kinds of gang activity. The bill also includes other supportive efforts, such as victim protection. Gang violence has seen a surge in the region, and is becoming a growing problem in the city. We must do all we can do to proactively prevent destructive gang activity.

I am hopeful my colleagues and I will be able to vote for and pass this bill as soon as possible. I know it’s a rather lengthy bill, but it’s important and necessary. I encourage you to contact my colleagues on the Council and ask for their support in passing this bill.

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