News

Law & the Courts

D.C. Police Chief Unloads on Lax Court System after Shooting: ‘You Cannot Coddle Violent Criminals’

Demonstrators face police officers during a protest at Black Lives Matter Plaza in Washington, D.C., August 27, 2020. (Andrew Kelly/Reuters)

Washington, D.C., police chief Robert J. Contee III slammed what he described as a malfunctioning justice system on Friday morning following a shooting in the crowded 14th street commercial district Thursday night.

Gunmen shot two people on the city’s upscale 14th Street, in an incident captured on video. Police have recorded 105 homicides in the city so far this year, while 2020 saw a 16-year high of 198 homicides.

Contee said the Thursday shooting left people “mad as hell” in a Friday press conference.

“We could take the political route and talk about all of this fluffy stuff, but I’m going to give it to you straight, where the issues are,” Contee told reporters. “The justice system that we have right now—it is not functioning the way that it should. The courts are not open, that is a fact.”

Contee said people arrested by police could up back on the streets within “three weeks,” and that there is still a backlog of cases from the previous year.

“What does the community expect?” Contee said. “When a person gets caught with a firearm, what do we expect? Do we expect to see them in the neighborhood in three weeks? And if we do, are we saying that that’s acceptable?”

Contee continued, “You cannot coddle violent criminals. You cannot treat violent criminals who are out here making communities unsafe….They might not want a job. They might not. They might not need services. What they may require is to be off of our streets.”

The Thursday shooting came several days after three people were wounded in a shooting at Nationals Park, leading panicked spectators at a Nationals-Padres game to flee the stadium. Contee noted that both shootings drew national attention, but that incidents like them occur far more frequently in other parts of the city.

Around 40 percent of all shootings in Washington, D.C., are concentrated on 151 blocks, or 2 percent of the entire city, the Washington Post reported.

Send a tip to the news team at NR.

Zachary Evans is a news writer for National Review Online. He is a veteran of the Israeli Defense Forces and a trained violist.

Recommended

The Latest