A double public emergency, due to two problems that impact the nation's capital, declared Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser on Monday. The first is to contain a dramatic increase in juvenile crime and the second addresses the evolution of the opioid overdose crisis.
Speaking to reporters, Bowser said the dual emergency declaration is designed to help the government deploy funds more quickly to secure the resources needed to address both issues.
“To a great extent it will help us in the contractual aspect. It could affect how we deploy personnel, but above all, it is a recruiting vehicle,” he said.
He added that when it comes to combating juvenile crime, the goal is to get more beds in youth foster homes across the city. At this time, arrested minors can be sent to the DC Youth Services Center. That was precisely the topic of a court hearing that same Monday morning, where attorneys representing a teenager pushed for a judge to declare the city “in civil contempt” over the bed shortage.
In that case, the teen had been locked up at the DC Youth Services Center for five days, even though she was supposed to be sent to a shelter, because the eight beds reserved for girls were in use.
Sam Abed, acting director of DC Youth Rehabilitation Services, said the city was working to increase capacity by up to 24 beds in the coming weeks.
The other public emergency issued by Muriel Bowser is also being used to help the city better address the evolving opioid crisis.
In 2022, the city said 96 percent of overdose deaths involved fentanyl and similar synthetic opioids.
"We have too many people dying in our city due to fentanyl overdoses," the mayor said.
“Having a common data tracking system will give us a better picture of opioid use and its effects in the District,” said Ciana Creighton, Acting Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services.