DC Officials Talk Rising Gun Violence

July 13: Situational Update

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Amid rising homicides, Office of Neighborhood Safety and Engagement (ONSE) Executive Director Delbert McFadden discusses gun violence prevention strategies. Screenshot: Facebook Live/@Mayor Bowser

District officials discussed the strategies and difficulties of reducing gun violence in the District at Mayor Muriel Bowser’s (D) Monday, July 13 situational update. Bowser was joined by Office of Neighborhood Safety and Engagement (ONSE) Executive Director Delbert McFadden and Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) Chief of Police Peter Newsham.

Amid rising homicide rates across the District, including the July 4 killing of 11-year-old Davon McNeal, Newsham said the efforts of MPD to curb violence is “not working” and attributed violence to “repeat violent gun offenders released back into our community.” Newsham said 11 reported homicides occurred in the District this weekend.

McFadden emphasized the long-term support strategies required to reduce homicides. Taking a “public health approach” to reducing violence in communities requires providing mental health services, education and employment training to people impacted by violence. He said the Pathways Program, which “aims to decrease participants’ involvement in the criminal justice system,” is “ramping up” services. 

Bowser said she plans this week to review the Emergency Police-Reform Bill, which requires that body camera footage be made public more quickly after a police shooting, bans officers from using chokeholds and prohibits the Metropolitan Police Department from buying military-style equipment from the federal government, DCist reported. The bill was passed unanimously by DC Council last month. 

COVID-19: 59 New Cases

The District reported 59 new COVID-19 cases and four days without new deaths — the first four-day streak without a single loss of life since early March. 

Bowser said that free antibody testing is available at three locations: Hillcrest Rec Center, Canal Park and Takoma Rec Center. A full list of testing centers open this week is available here, and testing locations promise results within three to five business days. However, DCist, NBC Washington and several other local and national media outlets are reporting residents seeing up to a 7-day wait for test results. Residents are also reporting lost, damaged or inconclusive tests.

Acting Director of the Department of Public Works (DPW) Christopher Geldart said most residents receive results within five to seven days, and said wait times for results are “creeping up” due to “the amount of testing going on throughout the country.” He added that the District conducts around 2,000 tests per day through DC Health, LabCorp and a few other facilities.

Update on DCPS  

Bowser said residents can expect to learn more information about the upcoming school year at DC Public Schools this Thursday. 

DCPS also is beginning a virtual summer bridge program, which aims to help students transition to third, sixth or ninth grade. More information about registration and dates is available here

Eva Herscowitz is a journalism student at Northwestern University currently interning with the Hill Rag. She writes for Northwestern’s student newspaper, The Daily Northwestern. You can reach her at [email protected]