Ricketts on the Senate Floor: D.C. Should Learn from Omaha How to Combat Violent Crime
March 8, 2023
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Pete Ricketts (R-NE) spoke on the Senate floor in support of a resolution disapproving of the Washington, D.C. City Council’s effort to reduce penalties for violent crimes like murder and carjackings. The Senate will vote on the resolution later today.
“There are smart ways to think about criminal justice reform, and that’s what we did in Nebraska back in 2015,” said Senator Ricketts. “But reducing the penalties and being soft on crime is not that approach. Rather than reducing the penalties for violent crimes, the city of D.C. should look at what Omaha, Nebraska, my home city, has done, and how they’ve used community engagement with the police force to reduce homicides. In fact, they’ve reduced homicides in each of the last two years. This is common sense.”
Omaha homicides and violent crime have decreased two years in a row, according to data from the Omaha Police Department. A recent report from ABC News, attributed it in part to community engagement initiatives like Omaha 360.
Watch the video HERE and read a transcript below.
Senator Ricketts: “Thank you very much.
“We’re here today to discuss the resolution disapproving of the D.C. Council’s efforts to water down the city’s criminal code.
“Now some might be wondering why the Congress has a say in the D.C. Criminal Code. And the reason goes back to the founding documents for our country. D.C.’s very existence is in our Constitution, which calls for the District to not exceed 10 square miles to be the seat for the government of the United States.
“So, while D.C. is a place where people live and work, it belongs to the entire nation. Citizens from all across this country come here. Students, for example, to learn about American history. In fact, I was meeting with some students just earlier today. Citizens come here to interact with their elected officials.
“We’re here today because the D.C. City Council is trying to make this District, this constitutionally mandated seat of government, a less safe place to be able to come and live, work and conduct business.
“In rewriting the D.C. Criminal Code, D.C. is trying to make things such as first-degree murder, carjackings, robberies, burglaries, home invasions, reducing the penalties for all those crimes at a time when the crime rate in DC is rising. For the first time in a couple of decades, D.C. has seen two years of 200 or more homicides. The last five years, carjackings have increased every single year. In fact, in the first 67 days of this year, reported carjackings have been at 100. Crime year over year in D.C. is up 22% and the D.C. police chief has said when they arrest a homicide suspect, that suspect on average has been arrested 11 times previously.
“Now, there are smart ways to think about criminal justice reform, and that’s what we did in Nebraska back in 2015. But reducing the penalties and being soft on crime is not that approach. Rather than reducing the penalties for violent crimes, the city of D.C. should look at what Omaha, Nebraska, my home city, has done, and how they’ve used community engagement with the police force to reduce homicides. In fact, they’ve reduced homicides in each of the last two years. This is common sense.
“We need to stand with law enforcement and respect their work to put criminals behind bars. We need to stand with the law-abiding victims and get them the justice they deserve. And we need to make sure the government is fulfilling its obligation to keep people safe. That’s exactly what we’ve done in Nebraska. We’ve rejected the woke politics of the soft-on-crime policies that reduce penalties. And in Nebraska we back the blue. We stand with law enforcement officers as they work to identify, investigate, and arrest criminals.
“As the seat of government, D.C.’s rising crime is a threat to all Americans and to Nebraskans, which is why the House and the Senate have an obligation to act. I’m grateful to my esteemed colleague from the great state of Tennessee for introducing this resolution and for his leadership on this issue, and I urge all my colleagues to vote in favor of this as well.
“Thank you, Madam President, I yield back.”