DOJ Announces ‘Surge’ in Resources to Washington Amid Crime Spike

DOJ Announces ‘Surge’ in Resources to Washington Amid Crime Spike
The U.S. Department of Justice building in Washington on June 28, 2023. (Madalina Vasiliu/The Epoch Times)
Sam Dorman

Additional resources are being directed to the District of Columbia, the Department of Justice (DOJ) said on Jan. 26, after months of political concern about the city’s rising crime rate.

In 2023, the city saw a 26 percent spike in all crime—including a 39 percent increase in violent crime from 2022.

As Attorney General Merrick Garland indicated, Washington’s crime spike was unique as violent crime dropped in other major cities.
“Last year, we saw an encouraging decline in violent crime in many parts of the country, but there is much more work to do—including here in the District of Columbia,” Mr. Garland said in a press release.

“This surge in law enforcement resources will build on the department’s efforts to target the individuals and organizations that are driving violent crime in the nation’s capital.

“The Justice Department will not rest until every community in our country is safe from the scourge of violent crime.”

The announcement didn’t quantify the additional resources but U.S. Attorney for D.C. Matthew Graves touted a “surge of resources” that would “allow us to continue to expand on these efforts and to take even more drivers of violence off our streets.”

DOJ efforts include using data analytics to combat violent crime and carjackings, as well as detailing federal prosecutors from the Criminal Division to work on violent crime cases.

Mr. Grave’s office is also “moving additional prosecutors within the Superior Court docket to focus on carjacking and both lethal and non-lethal firearms cases,” according to the announcement.

It’s part of Mr. Garland’s Violent Crime Reduction Strategy announced in 2021 and came alongside similar efforts in Memphis, Tennessee, as well as Houston, Texas.

Days before the announcement, D.C.’s city council debated an omnibus crime bill sponsored by council member Brooke Pinto, who NBC4 reported as noting that the district’s 274 homicides in 2023 were the most it had seen in 25 years.
According to ABC7, the new bill creates new firearm offenses, calls for restoring police’s ability to declare drug-free zones, expanding pre-trial detention, and establishing “directing organized retail theft” as a crime.

Communities as ‘War Zones’

Washington’s crime spike has received national attention, perhaps most significantly from former President Donald Trump, who called on TruthSocial for “a federal takeover of this filthy and crime-ridden [sic] embarrassment to our nation.”

He cited crime as a reason he couldn’t get a fair trial in the DOJ’s ongoing prosecution of him in D.C. District court.

Metropolitan Police Data (MPD) Detective Greg Pemberton went so far as to claim certain communities had started looking like “war zones.”

MPD figures showed that between 2022–2023, the district saw a 35 percent increase (203 to 274) in homicide, a 67 percent increase (2,076 to 3,470) in robbery, and an 82 percent increase (3,756 to 6,829) in motor vehicle theft.

Among the victims were Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-Texas), who was robbed at gunpoint while parking his car in October.
While the crime appears to have concentrated in Northeast and Southeast D.C., the Secret Service assigned to President Joe Biden’s granddaughter opened fire in the Georgetown neighborhood after seeing three individuals break a window of their unmarked SUV.
Much of D.C.’s crime spike appears to involve juveniles, who reportedly made up 62 percent of the 173 carjacking arrests made in 2023.
In response to growing violence, the D.C. Council passed an emergency public safety bill last summer but nonetheless received Congressional scrutiny months after the bill’s passage.
At a hearing in October, the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime and Federal Government Surveillance heard from violent crime victims who called for tougher sentencing.
U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland speaks, as officials including U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia Matthew Graves (center), listen, in Washington on May 4, 2023. (Win McNamee/Getty Images)
U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland speaks, as officials including U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia Matthew Graves (center), listen, in Washington on May 4, 2023. (Win McNamee/Getty Images)

“Crime is out of control, and everybody knows it,” Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) said at the time.

“More importantly, everybody knows why. When you defund the police and you have prosecutors who go soft on crime, you get more crime. This doesn’t take a genius to figure this out.”

Meanwhile, Ranking Member Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) panned the hearing as an “attempt to distract and mislead the American people.”

Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas) also pushed back on criticism of prosecutors, noting that Mr. Graves had assured her “that they are at a point where 90 percent of the individuals arrested for the most serious, violent crimes—which are homicide, carjacking, rape, and assault with intent to kill—are being prosecuted.”

Samantha Flom and Katabella Roberts contributed to this report.