Jun 8, 2022 - News

Audit reveals mixed results on D.C.'s violence interruption

Photo by Olivier Douliery/AFP via Getty Images

Five years after enacting a law meant to curb violence in the District, results have been mixed and the city must do more to track the success of its programs, says a D.C. auditor report out yesterday.

The big picture: According to the report, the city has found some success in recruiting people as part of its Pathways program, which steers high-risk young men away from violence through job skills training and six months of employment.

  • The city has also been able to connect with victims of violent crime by providing violence intervention services while they’re being treated in a hospital.

Yes, but: There is no data showing that a separate, high-profile program that deploys violence interrupters to high-crime communities has had a significant impact in engaging young men and the community. Additionally, the auditor says the city must follow up with graduates of the Pathways program to track long-term success.

  • The city also failed to implement two requirements of the law. It did not establish an office on violence prevention and health equity, and did not create police-clinician teams to respond to behavioral health crises.

Why it matters: Crime and violence are top of mind for D.C. residents, and a big talking point of the mayoral race.

  • While total crime fell by 14% and violent crimes dropped 8% between 2017 and 2021, homicides have steadily risen. In 2017, there were 116 homicides. In 2021, there were 226.

The other side: In response to the report, the Bowser administration says a pilot program it launched last year to redirect some mental health calls away from the police satisfied one of these missing mandates.

The administration says there have been other partnerships between the Department of Behavioral Health and D.C. police, including enhanced training.

  • The administration also touts its security camera voucher program for helping solve violent crime, and says the violence interruption program has been expanded in recent years.

The city says it has already shifted its public health response to violence from DC Health to the city administrator—as recommended by the report—by creating in January the Office of Gun Violence Prevention.

What’s next: D.C. agreed to further study the impact of the violence interruption programs and to track the employment and victimization of people who have graduated from the Pathways program.


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