Follow Up: Public Health Crisis in SW

Feb 12, 2022, 2:35 PM

I am writing to inquire about the oversight and investigative follow up resulting from the public health crisis in SW on January 28. This tragedy has shaken the Southwest community to its core. I have several questions that pertain to public accountability on this public health crisis.


Christopher Williams
Southwest Voice

1) In September 2021, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) seized "more than 9.5 million counterfeit prescription pills so far this year, more than in the previous two years combined." The DEA subsequently warned about the "alarming" increase in fentanyl-laced drugs.

1a) Were the legislative and executive branches aware of the DEA warning?

1b) What changes, if any, did policies and priorities shift?

1c) Prior to the public health crisis in Southwest, did any government agency or official communicate (e.g. newsletter, tweet, email, phone calls) and seek to engage the public about this increasingly acute public health threat?

1d) Were there any discussions between the legislative and executive branches about the DEA warning?

1e) Did Council member(s) provide any oversight over DC government agencies that are responsible for implementing programs and protocols in response to the DEA warning?

1f) What is known about DC government agencies' response to the DEA's warning?

1g) What is known about DC government agencies' request, if any, for additional resources to adequately respond to the DEA's warning?

1h) What warnings did any government official give to the public prior to the public health crisis in DC?

1i) Does any government agency have a mechanism to engage in preventative public health in a manner that reaches deeply into communities? Do current strategies largely rely on electronic communication?

1j) Mr. Allen tweeted on January 28, "There’s a lethal batch out." It implies that there are known non-lethal batches. What was known about these "batches" prior to the public health crisis in SW?

1k) Can you describe what is known about the DC drug market? Who is involved? Who are the ringleaders? What are the organizations? Can the public receive a lengthy update on characteristics of the DC drug market?

1l) How are young men and women recruited and used in drug market activity?

1m) What is the quality of DC programs that seek to engage youth and young adults to be productive members of society? (This is a program evaluation question). How are these programs rated? How often?

1n) Has DC Council ever asked for a performance report, including rubrics, for programs targeting youth and young adults, particularly as they related to drug recruitment and activities?

1o) How would you describe the seriousness that the DC Council, DC government, and law enforcement take the fentanyl-related drug market and the related public health threat?

2) Subsequent to the Capitol Attack on January 6 by thugs who engaged in sedition, it came to light that the federal government is tracking illegal guns, including those that end up in the District. The Council, specifically Mr. Mendelson, was perplexed that this information was not being shared with DC. This raises concern about data- and power-sharing between the federal government and the District.

2a) What is the scope of authority for DC to interrupt illegal drug activity in the District?

2b) What has been shown to be the most effective tools for eliminating illegal drug activity in the District?

2c) What are shared powers of authority between the federal government and DC in interrupting illegal drug activity in the District?

2d) What powers relevant to enforcement of laws on illegal drug activities that the DC is either limited or that DC does not have that would be important to have for eliminating illegal drug activity in the District? How does the lack of statehood impact this discussion?

2e) How would you describe the nature of cooperation between the federal government and the District in eliminating illegal drug activity?

3) The Office of Attorney General recently reached an agreement with DCHA to safeguard public health through beefed up security measures.

3a) In light of the public health crisis in SW, does DCHA remain in substantial compliance with that agreement?

3b) Per the agreement, were all security measures fully implemented at the time of the public health crisis?

3c) In light of the public health crisis in SW, is the Office of Attorney General seeking to reevaluate DCHA's compliance with the security agreement.

3d) How was OAG tracking compliance with the agreement? Following the formalized agreement, was DCHA put under any corrective action plan?

4) What is the status of the investigation?

4a) Are there any person(s) of interest in the investigation? How close are law enforcement officials to naming a person(s) of interest?

4b) Are there any rewards being offered to individuals who can offer the police information on the person(s) of interests?

4c) What is being done to protect witnesses and encourage witnesses to come forward?

4d) Was the person(s) of interest known to the community - a familiar face?

4e) Was the public health crisis related to an organized crime ring or network?

5) Community Support

5a) What community support has been provided to support healing and resilience following the public health crisis?

5b) How is DC seeking to affect the conditions that lead to youth and young adults being recruited for drug-related activities?

5c) How will DC Council prioritize funding for Southwest in the long-term to enable community resilience and healing?

5d) Relative to other cities, what is the value per dollar spent on drug prevention programs?