Donald Trump has never been a fan of Washington, D.C., and the feeling is mutual among most of the residents who join spontaneous street celebrations when he loses the White House.
But the former president’s animosity only grew after he left the city, and while violent crime continued to rise in the capital, falling from pandemic-era highs in other cities, Trump campaigned on “a federal takeover of this ugliness and crime.” – it is a shame for our nation.”
Trump has repeatedly promised to capture the capital with federal troops flirted with During the height of the 2020 Black Lives Matter protests, in his last year in office, he told a conservative audience last year that he would “not even call the mayor” until law and order is restored. .”
Washington has become legitimate is a national indicator for violent crimesDespite the decline in violent crime in nearly every other American city, 2023 was the city’s deadliest year in more than two decades. For example, near Baltimore, famous for its crime and misery depicted in the movie “The Wire”. the biggest drop in homicides record last year.
And in DC, shootings, murders and carjackings all flew awayspilling over into neighborhoods usually spared from such violence, including downtown areas occupied by office workers, and making many longtime residents feel safe for the first time.
Heads are collected among residents Taken at DuPont Circlein subway station, On the edge of the National Parkand walking home from work. On Monday, a former Trump administration official was was accidentally shot while waiting to buy his wife, on K Street, home to many of the city’s white-shoe law and lobbying firms.
Trump, congressional Republicans and their allies in the conservative media have used Washington — where Democrats typically poll about 90 percent of the vote for president — in the run-up to the November election to paint the entire Democratic Party as soft on crime and to argue that more is needed. federal control.
The district’s longtime Capitol Hill attorney, Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton said the city needs more autonomy to fight crime, given the well-documented case. coordination failures between the city’s federal and local agencies. But even he is afraid Home RuleThe law that first allowed D.C. residents to elect their own government in 1974 could be in jeopardy.
“I think he’s going to do everything in his power to prevent statehood from happening, but also to bring back Home Rule,” he said. “There’s no question in my mind that if he takes control of the presidency again, we could lose a lot of the control we have over the city now.”
What is behind the crime of the capital?
The reasons are myriad, and the finger-pointing, DC Council, mayor, police, prosecutors, courts, and mismanaged crime lab are to blame.
Bret Tolman, a former US attorney appointed by George W. Bush who is now executive director of the conservative criminal justice reform group Law Against Crime, has largely blamed the Washington attorney general for refusing to prosecute most of the cases.
“We don’t need to change the law. “We don’t need the president to come and use the National Guard to take over the city.” “All you have to do is tell the people in office, Republican or Democrat, that they’re going to enforce the law.”
The D.C. Council made national headlines last year for passing far-reaching penal code reform too leniently. Congress used its power over the capital to kill the law, and President Joe Biden decided not to veto it. send a clear message told Democrats it’s time to get tough on crime.
Months later, as violent crime continued to rise, the D.C. Council went the other way, voting 12-1 in favor of the first of several emergency crime-fighting legislation, making it easier for police to do their jobs. detain suspects pending trial.
But Republicans focused on the first measure last year, turning national attention to the city in two congressional hearings.
Trump has repeatedly sought to move criminal trials out of Washington, arguing that a fair trial would not be possible in the city, not only because the jury would be drawn from the city’s largely hostile residents, but because “I call for a federal takeover of this ugly and crime-ridden disgrace to our nation.”
At the Truth Social in December, he said Washington had become a “dirty, crime-ridden death trap that needs to be taken over and properly managed by the Federal Government,” and that the plan was a key part of his platform.
On the campaign trail in Las Vegas last week, Trump vowed to “take over our horribly run capital” and renovate it so it “is no longer a nightmare of murder and crime.”
“We will federalize it. We will have the toughest law enforcement agencies in the country. We will have no more crime and it will look good,” Trump added.
Law & Order: DC
In some ways, Trump’s attacks on Washington are similar to those that Republicans have waged against America’s major cities for decades.
But despite decades of activism in favor of D.C. statehood, Washington remains essentially a custodian of the federal government, and the powers it is supposed to govern taken entirely from Congress – could theoretically cancel them.
Congress can and does kill legislation passed by the DC Council and has authority over its budget most parks in the city and much of its infrastructure is managed by the federal government.
Meanwhile, the “Order” part of DC’s “Law & Order” is run by the federal government. The President appoints the District’s judges and its attorney general, the United States attorney for the District of Columbia, whose office, unlike any other city in the country, handles both federal and ordinary local crimes.
The local Attorney General handles most juvenile prosecutions, but juvenile enforcement in the system is handled by a federal agency.
Charles “Cully” Stimpson of the conservative Heritage Institute, a former prosecutor in the DCUS Attorney’s Office, testified in the House last year at the invitation of Republicans.
According to him, many problems of Washington can be solved without violating the Democratic values of the city.
“It’s a man-made problem and it’s completely solvable,” Stimpson said. “If you parachute in California’s criminal code and then put in basically any other DA and make them US attorneys, crime rates will drop right away.”
US Attorney Matthew Graves, appointed by President Joe Biden, declined to prosecute. two thirds The number of people arrested in 2022 and 44% in 2023and critics accuse his office of being too hasty to beg criminal cases. Stimpson also criticized Graves for taking gun cases to a local courthouse, where convictions are difficult for various reasons, rather than to the federal courthouse next door, both of which are accessible to him.
In its defense, the U.S. attorney’s office pointed to rising prosecution rates in recent months, hailed the influx of new prosecutors and resources from the Justice Department, and said many cases should have been dismissed in recent years. DC crime lab loses accreditationhe recovered only in December.
Meanwhile, the Metropolitan Police Department is arresting fewer people. Number of arrests prepared per officer fell sharply during the pandemic to about half of pre-pandemic levels and has not recovered despite a rise under new chief Pamela Smith, who was appointed in July.
a City hall In November, former Assistant Chief Morgan Kane, who retired last month, said it was a “huge push” by the chief and other leaders to get officers “back in the game” after 2020. “At this point, what we’re really doing is restoring their confidence,” he said.
“What D.C. needs is more oversight, not less,” said Eduardo Ferrer, policy director of the Juvenile Justice Initiative at Georgetown University Law School, which seeks to improve the city’s juvenile justice system.
Meanwhile, he said, while the city has zero gun shops, it is full of illegal weapons from neighboring states and the federal courts backed down DC’s strict gun laws.
“If the feds wanted to do anything about gun crime in D.C., they needed to do more to stem the flow of illegal guns into the city,” he said. “We shouldn’t be punishing people in D.C. for a problem that was actually put on us.”