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There have been several incidents of gun violence in Ward 4 over the last few weeks. Several neighbors have asked what my response would be as Councilmember and I wanted to take a moment to share my thoughts with you.

First let me say that I am heartbroken by this recent violence and loss of life. Every Ward 4 resident deserves to feel safe at home, at school, and in their neighborhood. My sincere condolences and prayers to the families and school communities who have been impacted by this loss.

Gun violence is devastating for everyone involved. I have personally experienced it in my neighborhood and seen it up close working at the DC Attorney General’s office.

For many residents, it is not enough to simply react after the fact — we must also be proactive, preventing violence. Curbing gun violence requires a comprehensive combination of immediate and long-term approaches that treat violence as a public health crisis and utilize data effectively to stop crime before it happens.

Across the country, we’ve seen successful approaches in cities with similar incidents of violence. These approaches focus on using existing resources more strategically, increased community engagement, gathering data to target interventions, and deployment of wraparound services to stop violence before it starts. Results show that it’s working: Chicago saw a 50% reduction in crime.

We must engage new and existing organizations to build a community coalition and develop a data-driven strategy to reduce crime. We need leaders who will hold our Office of Neighborhood Safety and Engagement and MPD accountable to fully implement the NEAR Act — specifically, provisions requiring trauma-informed response teams and data collection since we need that data to properly target our engagement. And we need to bring the Cure the Streets Violence Interrupters program to Ward 4 immediately.

The use of evidence-based approaches works. Cure the Streets has a proven track record of decreasing violence and shootings and was recently expanded into Ward 5. This program would ensure we have trusted people on the ground, in Ward 4 neighborhoods, who are trained in de-escalation, violence interruption, and conflict resolution to limit conflicts and break cycles of violence when they do start. These teams can act proactively to identify trouble before it becomes violent, deescalate it once it does, and prevent retaliatory violence. All these things will make our neighborhood safer.

We must expand these programs now. As Councilmember I will introduce emergency legislation, secure funding for this program. I will also provide fierce oversight to ensure we collect the data and bring the community resources together to get this done right away. ANC 4C has also been doing extraordinary work to develop a deep, specific, actionable plan and I would work with them to advance their proposals.

Ward 4 needs a leader who understands the nuances of law enforcement, takes these issues seriously all the time, follows up relentlessly, and demands proactive solutions. We can’t stop violence with stern letters and license plate tag lines. We need a plan, and we need ideas that have a proven track record of working. What we’ve been doing these past several years doing isn’t working and more of the same is not the solution.

One life lost to gun violence is one too many and it impacts us all. But there is hope. We need all hands on deck in our community — MPD, OAG, USAO, ONSE, ANC leaders, faith leaders, teachers community organizations, universities, and more working together.

A safer community is possible for all of us and it starts with community input, data, and bringing effective programs to Ward 4, and public health resources.

Sincerely,
Janeese

Paid for by the Committee to Elect Janeese Lewis George, PO Box 56667, Washington, DC 20040, Latifa Lyles, Treasurer. A copy of our report is filed with the Director of Campaign Finance of the District of Columbia Board of Elections.