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Mayor Bowser Announces Latest Efforts to Address Bias-Related Crimes in Washington, DC

Friday, March 10, 2017

(Washington, DC) – Today, Mayor Muriel Bowser joined DC officials to discuss Washington, DC’s 2016 bias-related crime data. At the press conference, the Mayor reiterated that bias-related crimes are inconsistent with DC’s values, and multiple Administration officials provided an overview of DC’s protocols to protect people in Washington, DC from bias-related crimes as well as the services offered by DC government agencies to assist victims of bias-related crimes or discrimination.

“In Washington, DC, we value diversity and inclusivity and want all of our residents and visitors to feel safe. No matter your race, your faith, your sexual orientation, your gender identity, your background – you should be able to live, work and play in Washington, DC without fear of violence or discrimination,” said Mayor Bowser. “My Administration will continue fostering a culture that encourages people to come forward when they are the victim of discrimination or a bias-related crime because in order to properly address these issues, we need everyone to feel safe reporting them.”

Each year, the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) releases annual data on bias-related crimes. In reporting bias-related crime data, MPD breaks down the crimes into eight bias categories: ethnicity/national origin, race, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity/expression, disability, political affiliation, and homelessness. In 2016, the data shows a 62 percent increase in overall reported incidents - from 66 incidents in 2015 to 107 incidents in 2016. While bias-related crimes related to race were down 26 percent, significant increases were reported in four categories: ethnicity/national origin, religion, gender identity/expression, and sexual orientation.

“The Metropolitan Police Department is committed to safeguarding residents and visitors in Washington, DC and providing fair, unbiased and constitutional policing,” said Acting Chief of Police Peter Newsham. “We want to make it absolutely clear that we value the District’s diversity and that we will not tolerate hatred in our community.”

At the press conference, Director of the DC Office of Human Rights (OHR) Mónica Palacio highlighted the role OHR plays in defending people in Washington, DC from discrimination as well as creating policies that ensure DC Government employees have the ability to openly express their gender identity while at work. OHR is the DC government agency that enforces the DC Human Rights Act, which makes discrimination illegal based on 19 protected traits for people that live, visit, or work in Washington, DC. The DC Human Rights Act prohibits discrimination in housing, employment, public accommodations, and educational institutions.

“We are reminded every day of the negative impacts of bias through the discrimination complaints we investigate,” said Director Palacio. “However, we believe that when employers are equipped with the right information, discrimination can be avoided. It is our hope to guide individuals in the government and elsewhere to use that knowledge to maintain an inclusive and safe city."

Over the past two years, total crime in Washington, DC has decreased by nine percent. In 2016, the city saw a 10 percent decrease in all violent crime citywide, with a 17 percent reduction in homicides and a 13 percent reduction in robberies.