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WUSA9 talks state of crime, youth offenders with DC Police Chief Contee

"Our young people are showing up in crimes involving shootings, crimes involving carjackings at a pace that I have not seen in my 30-plus year career," Contee said.

WASHINGTON — D.C. Police Chief Robert Contee joined WUSA9's Larry Miller Monday to talk about crime in the city, what the chief has observed and what progress the department hopes to see moving forward.

Contee specified that the department is continuing to focus on violent crime. He said, despite the seriousness of the crime, violence is often sparked by petty disputes; a shoulder bump, or even a wrong look.

"We're still seeing far too much of that in our city. And one of the things that we're certainly focused on here in the Metropolitan Police Department," Contee said.

He also spoke on the state of youth crime in the District. Just last week, at least six minors were shot on D.C. streets, including a 15-year-old on a Green Line Metro train.

RELATED: Police investigating after boy shot on Metro Train

"Too many of our juveniles are still showing up in the space of committing some of these crimes," Contee said.  "Unfortunately, probably close to about 800 juveniles [this year]; this time last year, we were probably around the 700 mark . . . that's a lot of our young people who are still involved in crime and violent crime . . . our young people are showing up in crimes involving shootings, crimes involving carjackings at a pace that I have not seen in my 30-plus year career here with the Metropolitan Police Department."

Contee highlighted that the department continues to focus on young people, especially in the space of prevention and intervention, as well as in the space of accountability and enforcement. 

The chief drew connections to the setbacks that beset young people as the pandemic raged on.

"As we kind of transition away from some of the restrictions that we saw during the pandemic, some of those social connections that our young people may have been lacking, I think it's really starting to show up now," he said.

Contee added that, in addition, law enforcement during that time that police were less likely to arrest offenders and that the results are also appearing now.

"We really need to make sure that just kind of as a community that we are all focused in on making sure that those opportunities are there, but also making sure that the accountability is there." 

The chief also highlighted the department's Police Cadet Program, employing young people between the ages of 17 and 24 who go on to receive a salary for their work, support to go to college and additional alternatives and opportunities.

"I think that as a collective, as a community, we all have to be in that space to give them as many opportunities as we possibly can to do the right thing and for those who choose and make decisions to do the wrong thing that there's a measure of accountability in space for them so that they're not making communities less safe for our residents who live here, as well as the visitors to our city," Contee said.

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