In an effort to stem the onslaught of homicides, D.C.’s Mayor Bowser has proposed adding 500 police officers to a force that currently has 3,500 police officers at a cost of $30 million. What makes this a frustrating proposal is we now have a pretty good idea of who is responsible for many of the homicides (and attempted homicides):
It found that a relatively small group of people — likely as little as 200 people at any one point in time — are driving a majority of homicides and shootings in the city. And the study echoes an argument that community leaders in the neighborhoods most affected by violence have long put forward: If the government and community groups can come together to reach those high-risk people, invest in them, and make intensive intervention efforts, the city can reduce homicides and help save lives.
“In Washington, D.C., most gun violence is very tightly concentrated on a small number of very high risk young Black male adults that have a shared set of common risk factors,” says David Muhammad, the executive director of the National Institute for Criminal Justice Reform. “This very small number of high risk individuals are identifiable. Their violence is predictable and therefore it is preventable.”…
The average age of homicide victims in 2019 and 2020 was 31, and the average age of a homicide suspect in those years was 27. Muhammad said this finding was unsurprising to him — but it might be surprising to some D.C. residents.
We are hiring hundreds of police officers to deal with what is likely a smaller number of high risk people. Everyone gets their own personal cop!
Maybe a better way to cut the homicide rate would be pay these at-risk men to do things. Of course, not all would join up, and others would participate and not remain on the straight-and-narrow, but many might. And unlike hiring police officers, which is largely a jobs program for the surrounding suburbs, this would be a jobs program for D.C. residents.
Seems there are better ways to spend $30 million per year.