Police chiefs from around the country meet in D.C. to discuss violent summer

Law enforcement officials from the Washington area and across the country said Monday that there has been a recent increase in shootings in several major cities but that they haven’t pinpointed what’s causing the spike in violence.

Officials from several cities, including the District, St. Louis, Chicago and Baltimore, met at the Newseum in the District to discuss the trend and possible solutions to the violence. They were joined by criminology professors, attorneys and others.

“We had this meeting as an urgent summit because we felt a sense of urgency because people are dying,” D.C. Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier said at a news conference after the summit. “We have not seen what we’re seeing right now in decades.”

The event was hosted by the Major Cities Chiefs Association (MCCA), which said a survey of its members showed that police in many cities are seeing more guns on the streets and more killings. Four of the nation’s largest cities — New York, Chicago, Houston and Philadelphia — recorded a rise in homicides by mid-
July compared with the same period in 2014.

The District has experienced the same trend. The city’s homicide toll for 2015 is now 87; the total for all of 2014 was 105. Violent crime in general also is on the increase compared with last year, police said.

The summit was organized by Lanier, Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy and MCCA President J. Thomas Manger, the police chief in Montgomery County, Md., following a conference call in late July, Darrel Stephens, executive director of MCCA, said in an e-mail.

During the summit, the group identified several issues prevalent across many of the major cities, with the proliferation of guns high among them.

Manger said at the conference that 40 percent of the 35 cities surveyed reported shooting scenes with multiple firearms, with an increased number of shell casings found at the scenes.

Among the recommendations that came out of the summit, the chiefs called for more stringent gun laws, including harsher penalties for gun crimes and the use of high-capacity magazines.

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