The D.C. Council approved the latest version of a crime bill today in a 10 to 3 vote after continued debate about an amendment that would allow police to arrest and detain suspected gang members.
Earlier this month, Mayor Adrian M. Fenty (D) proposed emergency crime legislation that included the anti-gang provision only to be met with rejection after concerns, including worries about racial profiling. Instead, the council approved an emergency bill proposed by Council member Phil Mendelson (D-At Large), chairman of the Committee on Public Safety and the Judiciary.
Today, Mendelson offered a bill that cobbled together the mayor's previous emergency bill, his emergency bill and some other legislation for a first reading.
Council members Muriel Bowser (D-Ward 4), David A. Catania (I-At Large) and Jack Evans (D-Ward 2) were the dissenters, seeing the new version as watered down. "At the end of the day, I don't think this advance the ball much further," Evans said.
The three members had backed the anti-gang provision, along with Council members Jim Graham (D-Ward 1) and Tommy Wells (D-Ward 6), but they were outnumbered.
Under the anti-gang measure, prosecutors could obtain an injunction to prohibit an alleged gang member from associating with known gang members.
"These injunctions are dragnet approaches," said Council member Mary M. Cheh (D-Ward 3).
"I know it's well-intended, but it's ineffective," said Council member Marion Barry (D-Ward 8), adding that the city needed to prevent gang activity through literacy and other social services. "If you want to break up these gangs, it's going to take money."