WASHINGTON (DC News Now) — District resident, Kiara McClaine, said the city she grew up in is not safe for her anymore.
“I’m definitely afraid in the city I live, and I work in the city,” McClaine said of the District. “I’m afraid walking around my hometown.”
Rising crime has her and many feeling overwhelmed by the constant stream of murders and violent crimes that included a Monday night carjacking of a Texas congressman.
City councilmembers recently extended its emergency crime legislation until next spring. That, among other solutions, seeks to give judges more discretion to keep violent criminals in jail longer, including juveniles who are also committing crimes.
But many like McClaine said that the solutions to crime are not complicated and that the District needs more police officers to cover crime hot spots. They said that more focus needs to be on more jobs, affordable housing as well as mental and social services to curb crime.
McClaine said D.C., like so many urban cities, have the wrong priorities when it comes to just attracting business development and sports franchises.
“The money is going to the wrong places,” she said. “The children, the youth, more jobs. It’s not affordable anymore. We can’t afford the rent. A lot of us. We’re working paycheck to paycheck to survive.”
She said those are the problems that lead to crime. The District has 216 homicides, a 38% spike over last year and violent crime is up 39%, according to police statistics.
D.C. Councilman Trayon White is concerned about rising crime. But he doesn’t think the solutions are complicated.
“Some of these issues have plagued primarily the Black community here in Washington, D.C. for far too long,” he said.
But White said that he’s concerned these issues won’t get addressed and that crime will continue to rise.
“Some people say they feel safe,” he said. “I know that for a fact that crime has been the highest in the last three years that it has been in the last 20 years and so we have to do something drastic now.”
Brett Heimann, who moved to D.C. from Chicago two years ago, said he feels safe in the District. While he supports more police in the District, he wants to see more than just people getting locked up.
“I think we could allocate funds to mental health resources, to drug treatment, drug reduction,” he said.
As for being tougher on crime, Heimann has mixed feelings about it.
“We tried that for 30 years and I think it’s just going to make it worse,” he said.
Ishekeba Beckford, of D.C., said that the District is “110% capable” of investing in crime solutions.
“The real question is, do we want to?” Beckford said.
She said she thinks the problem is that “people are angry.”
“We’re talking about a very rich city so we can in fact resolve the problem,” she added. “There’s a lack of fathers in the community. There needs to be programs for the youth.”