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After a bake sale, several official letters, and prominent media appearances, Hill East resident and advisory neighborhood commissioner Denise Rucker Krepp has filed a civil lawsuit against the Department of Justice for failing to provide crime data.
Last year, Krepp submitted a Freedom of Information Act request for ward-based stats on violent-crime prosecutions in the District over a period of five years. But the DOJ denied her request, saying it had “no responsive records,” and adding that the U.S. Attorney’s Office did “not track this information.” Krepp didn’t buy that claim, as laid out in the lawsuit she filed on Monday.
“I appealed [the initial] decision and DOJ denied my appeal,” Krepp explains in a statement. “Since I had exhausted all administrative remedies, I filed suit against DOJ. I did so because crime is on the rise and instead of helping, DOJ continues to claim lack of knowledge regarding the number of crimes it is prosecuting in the city.”
In the complaint, Krepp and her attorneys allege that “DOJ has ignored its obligation to be transparent to the public, and has instead chosen to stonewall [her], refusing to provide even the most basic prosecutorial data.” But does DOJ have such data?
“The DOJ’s stated reason for denying [Krepp’s] request—that such data does not exist—is without merit,” the lawsuit argues. “Besides it being highly unlikely from a logical standpoint that an agency charged with criminal prosecutions would not maintain data related to what prosecutions it is maintaining, the DOJ has included prosecutorial data in reports it has released to the public.”
City Desk has reached out to DOJ’s public-affairs office and will update this post if we hear back. Krepp’s complaint notes a spike in homicides and robberies citywide from 2014 to 2015, adding that DOJ “drops [certain] charges for reasons unknown to the public.” The ANC commissioner wants a U.S. District court injunction ordering DOJ to disclose the documents she had requested “in their entirety,” a fee waiver for her FOIA filing, and litigation costs.
You can read the lawsuit here.
Update 5:55 p.m.: A spokesperson for DOJ declined to comment.