Thursday, August 26, 2010

A couple of questions for Clark Ray regarding public safety

In which I question people who are running for office (in this case, Clark Ray for At-Large Councilmember) in the wake of a series of recent tragedies.

Bwian: Over the weekend, a 31 year old Catholic University student was shot and killed in Petworth. This, along with other recent shootings in the District, has brought attention to your opponent, incumbent Phil Mendelson, and what many perceive to be his soft-on-crime approach. If you were to take Mendelson's place as chairman of the Committee on Public Safety and the Judiciary, what would you do differently to curb gun violence in the District?

CR: I would use a three pronged approach to addressing these problems and begin each of the three parts of the approach immediately.
1. I will work with Delegate Eleanor Norton to make sure that the US Parks Department enhances the lighting in the parks they control and then has officers patrolling the parks.
2. I would call an immediate community meeting with the DC Chief of Police and the Park Police to develop a multi-tiered approach and devise a three month action plan to address the specific issues the community has regarding safety in the parks. I would work with the community to monitor impact of the plan and to modify action steps if needed.
3. I will then call another community meeting between the community and police officials to discuss the results of the action plan and to determine what further steps including any potential legislation is needed to protect the residents of the area.
Regarding conversations that I have had with MPD officers – I would want to take a serious look at the District Gun Trafficking Laws – they need to be strengthened – we need to make it harder for guns to come into the city and to be illegally sold in the city.

Bwian: Along similar lines, what are your plans to strengthen the Department of Youth Rehabilitation Services? Much of the gun violence in the city has been committed by individuals under the age of 18.

CR:1.I have called on DYRS to immediately release the names of all escapees from facilities their agency controls. These names must be released to the community (while protecting all their constitutional rights) so that the community can assist in apprehending them.
2. I have called for a total review of how we deal with juveniles in the justice system. I believe the courts must have more control over where to sentence violent youth and that for all youth in the system we must provide appropriate education and programs so that these youth don't advance from being juvenile criminals to being adult criminals. There are best practice programs being used across the nation and we have to review them and determine which are appropriate for use. We must at all costs stop what some have called a revolving door but I call an "open" door out of DYRS. Contrary to what the incumbent has said, I believe that there must be a combination of both change in legislation and policy if we are to fully deal with the issues at DYRS.
3. I will hold hearings on these DYRS issues in the communities most impacted by youth crime. I believe that working parents and youth in school must have an opportunity to share their thoughts and ideas and they can't do this if hearings are held only in the Wilson building at 10:00am on a weekday morning.

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