District of Columbia Delegate Walter Fauntroy called Saturday on federal drug czar William Bennett to "do his job" and lend a hand in the district's attack on drug dealers.
Fauntroy, the city's non-voting congressional representative who appeared on Cable News Network's "Newsmaker Saturday" show, maintained his familiar stance of allowing the city to conduct its business without federal interference and was particularly critical of the federal judicial system for failing to handle properly the burgeoning number of drug-related cases against murder suspects in Washington.Last year, the city tallied a record 372 murders - more than half drug-related and dozens remain unsolved. This year, police say they have had 120 homicides. It has been dubbed America's murder capital.
Fauntroy maintained that the city cannot effectively fight the war on drugs without extra help.
"We need the federal czar to do his job, which is to coordinate national, regional and local (law enforcement efforts), and that's more important here than anywhere, because we are three states (Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia) . . . trying to deal with a core problem in which 60 percent of the cocaine consumed is consumed in the suburbs," he said.
Congressman Stan Parris, R-Va., appearing on CNN with Fauntroy, noted 13,000 convicts are "on probation, 5,000 on parole, 10,000 that are awaiting trial and 12,000 prisoners."
Fauntroy countered: "And the federalized part of our administrative justice system handles that, and that's why we think we could do a better job with local self-determination, but not alone."
Fauntroy said the attempt to eradicate drugs and drug-related violence from the area also must be done "in coordination with our friends in Virginia, from which 60 percent of the guns that come into the District of Columbia come."
Parris said he plans to introduce legislation after Congress's Easter recess that would "federalize" the Washington drug eradication effort by having Congress appoint a safety commissioner to coordinate for the city its police, prison and emergency services.
"The problem is that there is simply no deterrent for criminal activity in the District of Columbia at the moment," Parris said. "The reason is the police are just part of the problem."
Parris said many suspects might be arrested more than a dozen times before their initial case comes to trial.
"Then when, in fact, they're sent to jail, there are simply no jail cells to put them in," Parris said. "So they know that they can do their dirty little deeds and do it with impunity."
Fauntroy listed at least two ways in which he believes Bennett could help break the cycle of violence in the city.
"(Bennett's) mandate from the Congress is to coordinate national, regional and local authorities in attacking the drug problem," Fauntroy said. "If we can't do it in the nation's capital, in this region, we can't do it anywhere in the country.
"And he can assist us in getting 700 police officers - not weekend warriors from the Natinoal Guard, or infantry troops trained to fight in the fields, but trained police officers to give greater present in our neighborhoods."