D.C. Councilwoman Mary Cheh voices her concerns about overly broad language in Mayor Muriel Bowser's controversial proposed policing changes. (J. Lawler Duggan/For The Washington Post)

D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser’s controversial effort to address this year’s spike in homicides by allowing law enforcement officials to perform warrantless searches of violent ex-offenders appears likely to die in the D.C. Council.

At a hearing Wednesday, council members on the Judiciary Committee, legal experts and scores of residents blasted the plan, which would require those serving sentences for violent crimes to consent to stepped-up searches as a condition of early release. They said that Bowser’s effort to focus on those police say are most likely to commit new crimes would backfire and further erode trust between law enforcement and residents in the city’s most crime-stricken neighborhoods.

“The mayor’s proposed legislation not only focuses too heavily on policing and incarceration, but it also undercuts procedural justice and fairness,” said Kristin Henning, a Georgetown University law professor. “While punitive responses . . . make us feel safer in the short term, they actually make us less safe over the long term.”

The parade of opponents before the council members followed a protest march against the proposal Tuesday night that attracted more than 100 people in Congress Heights — a neighborhood where almost twice as many people have died in gun violence this year compared with this point in 2014.

Together, the events signaled that amid a 40 percent jump in homicides in the city, Bowser (D) remains on the defensive, struggling to both explain the rise and combat it in a year when increased scrutiny of police in cities across the country has galvanized cohorts of young African American community leaders to push back against what they say is aggressive policing.

D.C. Police Chief Cathy Lanier is questioned by reporters after testifying before the City Council regarding the city's police body camera program. (J. Lawler Duggan/For The Washington Post)

Bowser and her deputy mayor for public safety have defended the proposal to conduct searches of violent offenders, saying repeat offenders have been a major part of this year’s spike in killings.

“The mayor wants to provide federal supervision agencies with additional tools to better supervise a small number of violent offenders who are most at risk of being involved with violent crime,” said Kevin Donahue, Bowser’s deputy mayor for public safety. “The proposals are narrowly focused on activity that directly threatens our most vulnerable residents and communities.”

But the plan, which would allow searches of ex-offenders as well as their residences at any time, was also criticized Wednesday by the D.C. Police Union, the D.C. attorney general’s office and the head of the federal agency that supervises parolees and probationers in the District.

In prepared remarks, Nancy M. Ware, director of the Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency, said the searches would raise complicated legal concerns for ex-convicts and those who allow them to live in their homes.

The cacophony of opposition to the mayor’s plan appeared to be all that Judiciary Committee Chairman Kenyan R. McDuffie (D-Ward 5) needed to follow through on warnings that he would kill the mayor’s proposal.

Addressing the packed hearing room, McDuffie won accolades from members of a group that has dubbed itself Black Lives Matter DMV, saying that the city needs a more comprehensive approach to addressing crime, including approaching it as a public health emergency and increasing spending on community-building.

Some of the most vocal opponents to Bowser’s plan got an early start in rallying against the proposal Tuesday night. About 100 people, including some affiliated with the national Black Lives Matter movement, streamed down Alabama Avenue in Southeast Washington, the epicenter of the city’s increase in deadly shootings.

The group chanted, “When they say ‘Get back!’ we say ‘Fight back!’ ” and walked to the 7th District police station. In interviews, many cast Bowser’s measure as anti-black.

Bowser has proposed enhancing penalties for violent acts committed against public transit passengers or at certain public facilities. Her plan also calls for retaining and recruiting more officers, providing financial incentives for business owners and residents to install security cameras, and testing people on supervised release for synthetic drug use.

To temper what opponents call pro-police efforts, Bowser has proposed grants to community groups to focus on crime prevention, more intensive and individualized job training, and social services support for residents of crime-affected neighborhoods.

Her bill would also make it more difficult for police to pull people over for minor issues, such as having items hanging from a rearview mirror, which community activists say are used as pretenses to stop black drivers in order to look for other criminal behavior.

But for protesters, frustration over the parts of Bowser’s bill that would increase law enforcement powers was still high this week after the recent case of Jason Goolsby. The 18-year-old was tackled by police near Eastern Market after someone called 911 to say he looked suspicious.

“It’s a blanket approach that they take to combating crime,” said Ameen Beale, a protester in Congress Heights on Tuesday.

“You can’t just target everyone and then get lucky and find the random few,” Beale said. “I’ve been in this city my whole life, and those tactics haven’t worked to reduce violent crime.”

McDuffie and several council colleagues have a competing proposal to target the city’s rising homicide rate.

The council member would create an Office of Neighborhood Engagement and Safety to work with people who have a high risk of participating in or being a victim of violent crime. His plan would also establish an Office of Violence Prevention within the Department of Health. Among other things, it would embed social workers in hospital emergency rooms to offer counseling and mediation. McDuffie would also place social workers in the city’s police department and include training on preventing biased-based policing.