House Hearing Highlights Crime Woes In Nation’s Capital

The growing violent crime problem in Washington, DC was discussed at length in the Thursday hearing of the House Administration Committee. Committee members questioned U.S. Capitol Police Chief J. Thomas Manger, Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) Union Chairman Greggory Pemberton, and the Manhattan Institute’s Rafael Mangual on the scope of the problem and how the District is responding.

CBS News posted much of the hearing on YouTube leading off with the opening statement of Committee Chairman Steil Bryan Steil (R-WI) that laid out some recent statistics:

  • In 2023 violent crime was up 39 percent
  • Over 6,800 motor vehicle thefts in DC
  • 959 carjackings, for context there were 152 carjackings in 2019
  • In Ward 6, which includes the United States Capitol complex, there were over 150 robberies in the past six months and 350 vehicles were stolen last year

Steil also added that two of his staff members were mugged at gunpoint near the U.S. Capitol.

Members of Congress have also not been spared. CNN reported in Oct. 2023, that Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-TX) was carjacked near the Wahington Navy Yard and Rep. Angie Craig (D-MN) was assaulted in the elevator of her apartment building in February 2023.

Mangual testified that the numbers are even more concerning than they might seem at first glance because robberies, carjackings, and assaults are occurring at such high numbers despite the fact that DC has seen a marked shift in what criminologists call “routine activities.”

“Foot traffic, in-office work, and public transit ridership in D.C. are all down significantly, which has reduced the number of opportunities for offenses to take place,” he said.

In a hearing summary posted on TownHall, Pemberton noted that there’s been a “mass exodus” in the police department in recent years.

“Since the beginning of 2020, the MPD has lost 1,426 officers, more than one-third of the department. Five hundred and forty of those separations, nearly 40 percent, were resignations, employees who just walked away from a career with the MPD. The MPD currently has over 500 vacancies…our chief of police has testified that it will take over a decade to fill them,” he said.

Rep. Anthony D’Esposito (R-NY) offered a blunt criticism on X, formerly Twitter, “Here on Capitol Hill you can’t go to CVS and get batteries because they’re locked up. Why? Because people go into stores, take whatever they want, and walk right out. That is the country, that is the city, that Democrats have created.”