Key Issue Area: Community-led Violence Prevention Works

The Neighborhood Engagement Achieves Results (NEAR) Act passed the D.C. Council unanimously in 2016, and was the product of a District-wide conversation around policing and public safety. The NEAR Act creates a framework to ensure residents safety while also addressing police abuses by establishing community-led violence prevention efforts. 

The NEAR Act, which aims to reset the conversation on policing to recognize that public safety can’t be produced through mass incarceration or racial profiling, was based on successful models in cities as diverse as Chicago, New York, Baltimore, and Richmond, Calif. These programs have extraordinarily good results, with some cities seeing between 40% and 70% decrease in shootings, sometimes in just one year. They work by empowering respected community members to act as conflict mediators, combining that with particularly tailored access to social programs to help people change their circumstances.

The NEAR Act contains four primary components:

  1. Identifies and engages individuals at risk of being involved in crime through the Office of Neighborhood Safety and Engagement
  2. Links behavioral health issues and crime through the Community Crime Prevention Team
  3. Takes a public health approach to public safety by establishing the Office of Violence Prevention and Health Equity
  4. Uses open data and training to improve policing

Mayor Muriel Bowser's administration recently launched a website to track their progress implementing all 20 Titles of the NEAR Act. It's a good step, but raises many serious questions & concerns. Please find our grid outlining the areas that still need to be addressed here. This grid, along with this letter, was shared by with key members of the DC Council. 

Research

We base our work on the substantial research into community-led peacekeeping, the problems of the carceral state, and other related areas. Read the articles linked below to better understand the problems with militarized policing and alternatives that actually work. You can also find additional resources regarding the NEAR Act, its history and research materials on violence prevention here

Archived

Facts about Mayor Bowser’s Dangerous Anti-Crime Plan

From 2015:  Originally in opposition to the NEAR Act and its community-led violence prevention efforts, Mayor Muriel Bowser proposed a bill that would neither lower crime nor make anyone safer while also harming the residents of Wards 7 and 8 and returning citizens all over the city. Bowser’s plan was ultimately defeated when the Council unanimously passed the NEAR Act in 2016. Check out Stop Police Terror Project-DC’s analysis of the mayor’s original proposal.