DC police chief blasts justice system after latest shooting: 'You cannot coddle violent criminals'

DC police chief ‘mad as hell’ after wave of shootings in Washington

Washington police chief Robert Contee shows his frustration as he reacts to Thursday’s shooting in a pedestrian-heavy area of the city.

Washington, D.C., police chief Robert Contee declared himself “mad as hell” Friday as he vented about the city’s ineffective justice system and said violent criminals shouldn’t be “coddled.”

Speaking after Thursday’s shooting in D.C.’s popular Logan Circle that sent pedestrians running for cover, Contee’s frustration was clear.

“I’m going to give it to you straight … The justice system that we have right now, it is not functioning the way that it should. The courts are not open. That is a fact. Barely open,” he said. “So cases from last year that happened during COVID of violent criminals that have not been disposed of, where do you think those individuals are? They’ in community.”

Contee said D.C. was victimized by a “vicious cycle” of repeat offenders getting arrested and then turned around to the street less than a month later, predicting the perpetrators of Thursday’s shooting would be familiar to the D.C. police department when they arrested them.

D.C. court spokesman Douglas Buchanan refuted Contee on Friday, however, arguing there was not a backlog of violent criminal suspects being turned back onto the street.

“There is not,” Buchanan told Fox News. “That was the theme last night that we’ trying to wrap our heads around … how we were dragged into this.”

He noted the DC Courts system was open throughout the coronavirus pandemic but jury trials were postponed, although only a small percentage of cases make it to trial. He said judges are making their best determinations on whether to hold suspects with or without bond. 

Washington is reeling from a series of shootings, including last week’s incident outside Nationals Park and the shooting on July 16 that left a 6-year-old girl dead. It reached 100 homicides for the year earlier this month, the fastest it had reached the tragic figure since 2003.

“Enough is enough,” Contee said, as he called for greater community involvement in the city where he’s been a policeman for more than 30 years. 

“We want to people, but you cannot coddle violent criminals,” he said. “You cannot. You cannot treat violent criminals who are out here making communities unsafe for you, your loved ones … They might not want a job. They might not need services. What they may require is to be off of our streets because they’ making it unsafe for us … If not, then we see more of this.”

Addressing a crowd on a D.C. street corner near Thursday’s incident, Contee said it was up to the Washington community to decide what was acceptable in their city.

“I’m mad as hell about this, and I hope ya’ll are too,” he said. “I like coming to 14th Street … I don’t want to be afraid for my wife to go there because some knucklehead in community decided to pull out a gun and fire it at 8:20 in the evening. That is unacceptable.”

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