US Attorney’s Office to get more resources to combat violent crime in DC
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US Attorney’s Office to get more resources to combat violent crime in DC

WASHINGTON (DC News Now) — The US Justice Department on Friday announced it is sending more resources to the US Attorney’s office for DC to help combat last year’s steep rise in violent crime.

There were significant spikes in crimes committed by juveniles in 2023 with violent acts like carjackings and robberies, according to Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) statistics.

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“You know, seeing 12, 13, 14, 15 year olds committing these crimes, 16 and 17 year olds that we prosecute … It’s heartbreaking to me,” Matthew Graves, the US attorney for DC, told DC News Now.

Graves said about 20 analysts and prosecutors have already joined the US attorney’s office to better respond to rising crime trends with data analytics, deeper investigations and increased prosecutions.

He said people in the District deserve to feel safe and that while it pains him to prosecute young people, they are committing serious crimes that must be punished.

“I want the kids to hear … if people are telling you that there are no consequences, that you won’t be caught, they’re lying to you,” Graves said. “You will be caught.”

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Last year, violent crime in the nation’s capital was up 39% from the previous year, according to MPD statistics. Businesses have been the targets of robberies from troubled neighborhoods to wealthy ones like at The Wharf.

“We’ve been hit twice,” said Christopher Pennachio, the manager of DCity Smokehouse in Southeast DC. “I want to come to work, feel safe and then make it home at the end of the day, like anybody else would.”

Pennachio said his barbeque restaurant now has an armed guard. The last time the place was robbed, he had a gun put to his head, he said. Prosecutorial resources are welcome, he added.

“It needs to be done,” he said of holding young people who commit crimes accountable. “When we were children, we got there was some kind of punishment. You took a licking and you learned your lesson not to do it again.”

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Graves said that these resources from the Justice Department will be put to good use to drive down crime.

“It requires the whole system to address what we’re seeing with violent crime,” he said. “But prosecution is a necessary part of it, and it can be impactful.”

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