Lawmakers and their staff in Congress have been provided with guidance on how to protect themselves from the increasing crime rates in Washington D.C.

Remove jewelry on public transportation to avoid attracting thieves. Keep phone calls short to limit distractions while walking. Leave room at red lights in case a getaway becomes necessary. Police shared those tips and more Monday with Capitol Hill lawmakers and staffers at a briefing on surviving the District’s ongoing crime wave.

Rep. Bryan Steil, chairman of the House Administration Committee, hosted the informal safety meeting in the U.S. Capitol’s Longworth Building with representatives from the Capitol Police and the union for the District’s Metropolitan Police.

The Wisconsin Republican told The Washington Times that the meeting focused on managing the risks associated with the sharp rise in violent killings, robberies and carjackings in the District this year.

Mr. Steil stated that there is no evidence of a decrease in crime in the capital of our country, thus individuals are taking measures to ensure their safety.

A suggestion from the police advises drivers to maintain a distance between their vehicle and the one ahead of them when stopped at traffic lights. This precautionary measure allows drivers to have sufficient space to quickly accelerate in case potential carjackers come near.

Gregg Pemberton, the head of the D.C. Police Union, advised against long phone conversations while out and about. The calls can take attention away from people’s surroundings and make them more vulnerable to armed holdups, which contribute significantly to the city’s violent crime surge.

Authorities recommended that individuals should conceal their valuables in a car or keep them hidden while walking to prevent attracting the attention of potential thieves seeking easy targets.

The estimated 75 lawmakers and staffers present at the meeting found the crime prevention strategies to be highly practical. However, Mr. Steil was disturbed by the fact that they had to discuss the issue of widespread street crime in the city.

“I find it deeply unsettling that individuals have to contemplate such matters,” expressed the congressman to The Times. “The situation in Washington, D.C., where such guidance is necessary for visitors or staff members on Capitol Hill, is worrisome.”

The District has recorded a 29% year-over-year increase in homicides and is on track to exceed 200 for the third year in a row. The city has not reached that milestone in roughly two decades.

The number of carjackings has increased by 101% compared to the previous year, resulting in over 700 incidents of violent car theft and more than 5,000 stolen vehicles in the current year.

Robberies have jumped 67% so far this year, and some have turned deadly. Three people were fatally shot during holdups in July.

The overall rate of violent crime has increased by 38% this year, while the rate of all types of crime has increased by 28%.

Lawmakers in the Capitol Hill are familiar with violence.

Rep. Angie Craig, Minnesota Democrat, was assaulted in February inside her apartment complex by a man who had 12 prior convictions.

A man who had recently been released from prison randomly attacked a staffer for Sen. Rand Paul, a Republican from Kentucky, stabbing them multiple times. This incident occurred a month later.

Two individuals who work on Capitol Hill shared their experience of being robbed following a group dinner.

Mr. Steil praised the bravery of the employees for sharing their account of the event and expressed gratitude for how they humanized the statistics.

“I cannot reword”

Upon their return from summer recess, local politicians are shifting their attention back to crime due to the displeasure of the District’s federal overseers.

On Monday, Brooke Pinto, a Democrat representing Ward 2, proposed a bill to establish the emergency public safety measures that were put in place during the summer as permanent.

Ms. Pinto’s Secure DC Plan would enshrine into law the broader pretrial detention standards included in the emergency crime bill, which the council passed in July.

The temporary law is scheduled to end on October 18th. The updated rules for holding individuals in custody allow judges greater flexibility in keeping adults and minors who are charged with violent offenses in jail prior to their trial.

Ms. Pinto’s suggestion provides judges with increased flexibility in holding juveniles accountable for charges related to murder or car theft.

Judges are required to provide written explanations when releasing violent suspects under the proposed legislation.

“I cannot reword”

In the press release, U.S. Attorney Matthew Graves, the federal prosecutor responsible for handling the most serious crimes in the District, expressed his endorsement of the bill.

Mr. Graves is facing criticism for his office’s choice to dismiss a majority of the cases presented by the Metropolitan Police Department.

Rep. Steil attributes the recent increase in crime in the District to a shift away from criticizing the police and towards a more stringent approach to law enforcement. He claims that the movement to defund the police gained popularity among liberal politicians following the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis during the summer of 2020.

Mr. Steil pointed out the significant revision made to the District’s criminal code, which aimed to reduce punishments for numerous violent crimes. This was presented as proof that the policies played a role in the decrease in public safety.

Earlier this year, a Congress with members from both political parties voted to reverse the revision of the criminal code. This action is significant as it is the first instance in almost three decades where federal legislators have repealed a law passed by the District of Columbia.

“I cannot reword”