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Outgoing D.C. police chief is investigating the city’s rising crime rate

WASHINGTON – Metropolitan Police Chief Robert Conti will leave the department, officials announced Wednesday evening, and has been tapped to join the FBI.

Conti, who has served as chief since January 2021 and has been with the department since 1989, will depart, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser confirmed.

Sources told CBS News that Conti will join the FBI as assistant director of the Office of Partner Engagement.

The news comes just one day after Conti spent hours with CBS News trying to understand the crime challenges facing American cities.

“There are a lot more guns in the community now, a lot more guns than we’ve experienced in my time in the police department,” Conti told CBS News on Tuesday.

Mayor Bowser will hold a public safety press conference at Adams Morgan

Metropolitan Police Chief Robert Conti at a news conference on the rise in crime on March 6, 2023 in Washington, DC.

Marvin Joseph/The Washington Post via Getty Images

Conti said he faces an officer shortage, with less than half a century of D.C. police personnel.

“Whether it’s D.C., New York, L.A., Detroit, Chicago, it doesn’t matter, like, everybody’s having this struggle in recruiting and retaining police officers,” Conti said.

He explained that the funding infrastructure is there to add more officers, but “the challenge right now is really making sure that we have an environment that supports our police officers so that people want to be police officers.”

Eight people on 21st April was injured In shootings around Southeast DC, including a 12-year-old girl. None of the injuries were life-threatening, police said at the time. According to the latest city statistics, overall crime in the nation’s capital is up 25% this year compared to 2022. Homicides are up 20% and motor vehicle thefts are up 106%, the figures show.

Conti said that, often, violent crime can be linked to illegal firearms.

“When you talk specifically about violent crime, earlier this year, we had a few incidents where we saw individuals just shooting people, shooting each other for no reason,” Conti said. “People who can’t resolve disputes, simple arguments that turn into murder. Why? Because people have access to illegal firearms. And when they have access to illegal firearms, unfortunately they use them.”

He also argues that there is a lack of justice. Last year, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia declined to prosecute nearly two-thirds of people arrested by the Metropolitan Police.

“When police officers enforce the law, that’s only part of that criminal justice ecosystem,” Conti said. “That’s just part of it, because that case has to be tried again. Like, people will assume that, yeah, bad guys rob somebody, bad guys go to jail, bad guys don’t come back from the community that’s not necessarily a case.”

In a statement, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for DC told CBS News that it “prosecutes violent crimes, including gun violence, as aggressively as we ever have, charging more than 90% of our most violent crimes and prosecuting every firearm crime we believe We can. Prove it beyond a reasonable doubt.”

It noted that “with firearms crimes and non-violent crimes, our ability to prosecute has been hampered by recent changes in the law and the closing of the city’s forensic lab.”

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Norah O’Donnell

Norah O'Donnell

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