D.C. Council Chair Phil Mendelson (D) announced yesterday that Councilmember Tommy Wells (D-Ward 6) will take over for Mendelson as chair of the Committee on Public Safety and the Judiciary in the new year.
Wells, who holds a law degree, has served on the D.C. Council since 2006. In a release on his website, he said that he asked for the committee, which oversees a slew of law enforcement agencies and partners with entities not directly under the city's control, including the local court system and the U.S. attorney's office, which serves as the city's local prosecutor for most felony and misdemeanor cases.
"Whether focusing on improving public safety in our neighborhoods, assuring the District is prepared for emergencies, or working with our judicial and court systems, this committee has an enormous impact on every District resident," he said.
Wells was not available today for comment.
Wells earned his law degree in 1991 from the Catholic University of America Columbus School of Law. He's been a member of the D.C. Bar since then but, according to the bar's website, his membership status is currently inactive.
Before going into politics, Wells got his start as a social worker in the city's child protective services agency. He was director of a consortium of nonprofit agencies that serve children and families until he was elected to the council.
Wells will oversee the Metropolitan Police Department, Fire and EMS Department, Department of Corrections and Office of the Attorney General - which represents the city and handles juvenile and some misdemeanor cases - along with a slew of other agencies related to public safety, access to justice and administrative law.
Big issues expected to come before the committee in 2013 include planning for a transition in 2014 from an appointed attorney general to an elected one. The committee will also continue to guide the city's shift from having forensic testing done by law enforcement to an independent forensic sciences department. A new, state-of-the-art crime lab opened in October.