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The chief of police in Washington, D.C., implicated the criminal justice system for contributing to violence in the city, saying it is not doing enough to hold criminals accountable.
Metropolitan Police Department Chief Robert Contee blamed “barely open” courts in particular after two men were shot in a popular residential and restaurant district in downtown Washington Thursday evening.
“The justice system that we have right now is not functioning the way that it should,” Contee said Friday. “The courts are not open. That is a fact.”
“Cases from last year, from 2020, that happened during COVID are violent criminals that have not been disposed of. Where do you think those individuals are? They’re in [the] community,” Contee continued.
Reports from across the country reveal that exercises of prosecutorial discretion in some big cities such as San Francisco and New York City, coupled with decisions to release some suspected criminals on bond, have resulted in a spike in violent crime.
Courts have also seen closures or scaled back operations due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which some, such as Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot, have blamed for escalating violence.
"The real issue is, we have a vicious cycle of bad actors who do things, no accountability, and they end up back in community," Contee said. "I guarantee you, when we lock up whoever did this, they will be no stranger to us."
Graeme Jennings, WEX
Police have not identified any suspects in connection with the Thursday shooting, which sent the two adult male victims to the hospital, so it is unclear yet whether the perpetrators are previous offenders. The police department released images and video of the suspects, who fled the scene wearing black and yellow or lime green sweatshirts and drove away in a black Honda Civic with Washington D.C., tags.
The Washington Examiner contacted the Metropolitan Police Department for information about developments in the case but did not immediately receive a response.
Officials in Washington have complained separately that local law enforcement officials have too little control over some prosecutorial matters, such as charging juvenile suspects as adults in connection to violent crimes.
“The district government has been very little discretion with regard to prosecution of juveniles as adults. That’s a decision that’s made by the U.S. attorney,” Council Chairman Phil Mendelson said following a release of numbers from police showing a nearly four-fold increase in the number of suspected teenage carjackers through mid-July compared to 2020.
“Sometimes the crime committed by a juvenile is so heinous that that child should be prosecuted as if the juvenile is an adult,” he said.
Contee, too, was clear that the justice system can and should do more to protect the city, where 6-year-old Nyiah Courtney was killed in a shooting on July 16.
“Are the things happening that need to happen when we do place individuals under arrest?” Contee asked rhetorically.
“People are really mad as hell, and I don’t blame them," he also said Friday, citing conversations with business owners and residents. "I am too."
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Original Author: Jeremy Beaman
Original Location: DC police chief blames ‘barely open' courts for contributing to crime