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Former neighborhood leader criticizes revised DC's criminal code reforms

As of Jan. 25, D.C. has reported 37 carjackings.

WASHINGTON — Former Capitol Hill Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner Denise Krepp says it is a common occurrence for her to start her day reading about multiple carjackings around her home. And if she's being honest, it's testing her patience. 

"I'm exhausted right now," Krepp said.

The neighborhood activist has been a staunch critic of the District's revised criminal code, which Mayor Muriel Bowser recently vetoed, and the DC Council overrode the veto. Critics, like Krepp, say new revisions decrease penalties for some violent crimes. And her opposition has only grown as she's seen crime increase around her. 

"I woke up to a story this morning about a carjacking two blocks from my house at the intersection of 17th and East Capital," she recounted. "Carjackers going the wrong way on 17th Street slammed into another car and injured a woman.”

She even wrote a letter to Congressional leaders in December asking for interference. Now, Krepp is getting her wish with the new Republican-led Congress entering the debate on the criminal code revisions. 

"All Americans should feel safe in their capital city, but radical left-wing policies have created a crime crisis in the District of Columbia," Chairman of the House Committee of Oversight and Accountability Rep. James Comer (R-KY) wrote in a statement to WUSA9. "As the committee with jurisdiction over the District of Columbia, we will conduct oversight of the disastrous policies that have allowed crime to run rampant in our nation’s capital city. We will use every remedy available to the House to prevent the D.C. Council’s pro-criminal bill from becoming law.”

But Councilmember Brooke Pinto, the new chair of the Judiciary and Public Safety Committee, said the Council's Revised Criminal Code is common sense reform that makes sentences proportional to crimes like robberies and carjackings. 

"Over 97.5% of sentences judges are currently giving out are less than the maximum allowable penalty outlined in the revised criminal code," Pinto said. 

The mayor has vowed to find a compromise. 

"We haven't landed on our recommended changes, but we'll sit down with the council committee to get some feedback from them,” Bowser said. “I'm concerned about gun crime, I'm concerned about carjacking and robbery, I'm concerned about murder and all the crimes that saw sentences reduced."

As for Krepp, she said her fight is not political, it's personal.

“What I'm beginning to see is the folks who advocated for many of these changes are being funded by non-D.C. residents,” Krepp said. "So if a non-D.C. resident is advocating for something, and they don't have the violent crime that's happening in front of my house ... they can clean up their own neighborhoods but get out of mine."

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