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D.C. resident Martin Moulton, 46, is in favor of requiring police to release mug shots but said he would be open to waiting until a conviction.

“At the least, I’d like to see it before their sentencing,” said Mr. Moulton, of the Shaw neighborhood in Northwest.

Mr. Moulton said he thinks residents might be more interested in crafting community impact statements — descriptions of how a crime has affected a community that are submitted to a judge before sentencing — if they saw the convicted person’s picture and could recall seeing the offender in their neighborhood.

“If some of these repeat gun and burglary offenders are walking down your block, many while still on probation (judging from court reports), headed to their next crime, having their mug shots made public would help shine a light on situations and help residents police our own communities much more than street lights,” Mr. Moulton wrote in a posting this month to a listserv operated by the Metropolitan Police Department.

Ms. Cheh said two-thirds of states have laws that allow the distribution of mug shots. Rather than leave the issue up to the police department to define policy, she said, she would like the issue brought up for legislative discussion.

“This was an introduction and it will begin the conversation,” she said.