Greater Greater Washington

Public Safety


Crime remains high, police understaffed east of the river

The recent murder of Billy Mitchell at the corner of North Capitol and Florida Avenue reminded many of the violence that dominated the DC headlines from the mid-1980's until just a few years ago.


On a recent evening patrol of 7D. Photo by the author.

East of the Anacostia River, however, residents don't need a reminder that violent crime remains a big problem. Homicide rates have stayed high in those parts of DC, and the numbers of police east of the river have declined, not increased.

"Whad up, son? You heard what happened?" a young man shouted across the 1300 block of Alabama Avenue SE on a recent Friday evening to another young man on the other side of the street.

"Yeah, I already know, moe," he yelled back.

"Yeah, he got shot in the head, but he'll be alright," the first man confirmed.

During a recent "ride along" with police from the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD)'s Seventh District (7D), I related the conversation I had overheard. The two officers knew of the victim who had recently been shot in Congress Park, a neighborhood which police say has been "jumping."

Homicide rates east of the river have not fallen

Although homicides reached record lows in 2010, levels not seen since the 1960's, the trend increased in 7D, which roughly corresponds to DC's Ward 8. With a citywide homicide rate down from 143 in 2009 to 131 in 2010, homicides increased by 5% in 7D from 41 in 2009 to 43 in 2010.

Homicides remained constant in the 6th District (6D), which generally covers Ward 7, with 32 reported in 2009 and 2010. The two police districts accounted for 52% of the city's murders last year.


A memorial to one of the 43 murders in 7D last year. Photo by the author.
"Go back ten years and you'll see the Seventh District is consistently averaging 50 homicides a year for an area of six and a half square miles and 50,000 residents," says Kristopher Baumann, Chairman of the Fraternal Order of Police's Metropolitan Police Department Labor Committee. "West of the river, where all the people in the press live, nobody wants to hear about this, because they say 'We don't have to go over there.'"

"This has gone on for decades. People in Ward 8 put up with stuff nobody else would put up with. The continued lack of resources is inexcusable," Baumann contended.

Total property crime in 7D was reported down 2% but burglaries were up 25% from 793 incidents in 2009 to 990 in 2010, consistent with an escalation in burglaries seen across the city. 6D reported 491 burglaries in 2009 and 644 in 2010, a 31% increase.

FOP and patrol officers not happy with Chief Lanier

An article in The Washington Times from early January with the headline "Burglary spike spurs more cops in DC's Ward 3 area," reported that the Metropolitan Police Chief, Cathy Lanier, "has flooded Upper Northwest neighborhood with officers in response to a string of burglaries that has alarmed residents in recent weeks."

In response to the article, Baumann sent a letter to city officials asking, "Why should the residents living in the areas with the most crime and most problems receive the least amount of focus and resources?"

"While we always wish we had more police officers, it is not accurate to say there is a shortage of police officers in 6 & 7D," according to Gwendolyn Crump, Director of MPD's Office of Communications.

Without citing district by district staffing levels, only available through a Freedom of Information Act request, Crump says, "[T]here are still 115 more police officers and sergeants assigned to patrol in the Sixth and Seventh Districts than when Chief Lanier was appointed."

In January of this year there were 331 officers and sergeants patrolling 6D. In January 2007 there were 266, according to figures provided by MPD. In January of this year there were 333 officers and sergeants patrolling 7D. This represents an increase of 50 from January 2007 when there were 283 officers and sergeants patrolling 7D, according to MPD.

Crump says an additional 60 officers and sergeants in tactical units are assigned to the Sixth and Seventh Districts. Furthermore, 25-30 members from the Patrol Support Team and 60 from the Narcotics and Special Investigations Division work in 6D and 7D according to Crump.

"They are sent everywhere, all over the city. So if you asked them about 5D manpower they would count them for 5D as well," says Baumann.

"The Chief maintains the status quo. She's good with the media and the politicians, but when it comes to the rank-and-file officer that patrols the streets every day, she's out of touch," said a patrol officer who did not want to be named. "They send her off to school to get training in the classroom when she really needs to learn from what we see."

Riding through 7D

In the three hours I spent riding with patrol officers through the back alleys, numerous public housing complexes, and main thoroughfares that cover 7D, I got an introduction to the problems that distress certain communities east of the river.

With specific blocks and apartment complexes having a reputation for PCP, heroin, or crack cocaine, with marijuana "being everywhere," the officers had an encyclopedic knowledge of what drugs could be found where. Some back alleys were known for dumping stolen cars and where suspects were known to bailout after a pursuit while other areas were known for runaways and prostitution. The police I rode with knew which blocks have bred their share of murderers and where you could get killed.

This neighborhood is known as "3rd World," this is the "Duece-Duece", this is the "Lenchmob," and all can be heard called out on certain go-go songs, according to the officers.

At 16th & U Street SE where a large group had assembled on a Saturday evening, the officer in the driver's seat rolled down the window and took out his cell phone, positioning it as though he was taking a photo.

Most of the more than dozen young men pulled their jackets over the heads and turned to face the wall while others walked across the street. One young man in a black jacket and kufi stretched his arms widely over his head and smiled, posing for the make believe shot.

"I never take it, but it always gets one or two moving," said the officer who noted DC does not have an anti-loitering law that can be enforced to break up corners that are known as open-air drug markets.

MPD's shrinking force

MPD is shrinking. The force is down to 3,800 sworn officers, according to various sources, but Crump puts the number at 3,912.

"4,200 was a target first discussed by the Council in 2006, with the intent that in subsequent years the budget would grow to allow the Department to increase the number of officers," says Crump. "[T]he plan was that MPD's sworn staffing would be increased to 3,900 by the end of FY07, 4,050 by the end of FY08, and 4,200 by the end of FY09."

Facing a budget deficit of more than 600 million dollars, the city has cut deeply into MPD's budget.

"Cities across the country are cutting officers. We are not where we want to be, but it's my hope we can avoid further cuts into MPD," said At-Large Councilmember Phil Mendelson, Chair of the Committee on the Judiciary that "oversees all of the District's public safety agencies" and "responsible for all legislation related to criminal, civil, and administrative law" in the city.

"We are losing officers faster than we can hire them," notes Baumann.

Although 150 officers left MPD last year, according to city officials, the most recent Academy class, funded by a grant from the Department of Justice, will graduate 46 officers this month who have been in training since last June.

"There s not a hiring freeze, but there is a scaling back," says Mendelson.

"We are headed back to a turnover rate of 200 to 250 officers a year. Every agency, with the exception of Montgomery County, is hiring," warns Baumann. "We have suspended hiring, and, more troubling, the application process. So if we restarted, it would take months to get going."

John Muller is an associate librarian, journalist and historian. He has written two books, Frederick Douglass in Washington, DC, Mark Twain in Washington, DC, and also writes at Death and Life of Old Anacostia

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Baumann failed to tell you that there were NO officers moved from any other district for the Upper NW "surge;" they all came from other parts of 2D. When he learned this, he then shamelessly lit into Lanier for not actually moving the officers from other districts like the article said. Except that the article never said that officers were moved from other districts, just that there were more officers assigned to a couple of particular 2D neighborhoods.

We need more cops in DC, period. We don't need union officials pitting one part of the city against another -- baselessly -- to score points against management.

by Windex on Feb 3, 2011 12:55 pm • linkreport

This can't be right. Everyone on this site has told me that the east part of DC has changed, that it's an 'up-and-coming' neighborhood. They told me that my characterizations of it as a high-crime area were laughable.

So, this article is clearly incorrect.

by MPC on Feb 3, 2011 1:00 pm • linkreport

"I never take it, but it always gets one or two moving," said the officer who noted DC does not have an anti-loitering law that can be enforced to break up corners that are known as open-air drug markets.

What's stopping the officer from parking his car across the street until the crowd disperses (or installing security cameras)?

by andrew on Feb 3, 2011 1:07 pm • linkreport

@MPC... 1) Most of the murders EotR aren't random. The victim and the suspect know each other. 2) if you look at the crime breakdown by PSA you'll see some PSAs with lower crime like PSA 606 and you'll see some with high crime like PSA 602. 3) Crime also changes by PSA. Some PSAs have more violent crime and other have more personal property crimes like theft from auto or destruction of property. In a previous blog post, I offered to give you a tour of my neighborhood. The offer still stands. We can do it during the day and I can arrange a police escort if it will make you feel safer.

@John... interesting article. One thing I would add is lack of police presence in PG County in the areas that border DC. My neighborhood sits right on the borderline of Suitland, MD. Many of the trouble makers are coming from across the border in the apartments in PG County. I've rarely see PG County police patrolling the area. The few times I have seen PG County police they've chased someone into the district then they U-turn and head back. At the PSA 606 meeting in December I got the sense that there is little to no coordination between MPD and PG County police.

by Veronica O. Davis (Ms V) on Feb 3, 2011 1:10 pm • linkreport

For 30 years SE has been a self-cleaning oven.

by TGEoA on Feb 3, 2011 1:10 pm • linkreport

Two things:

First, there's a certain threshold at which the prevalence of crime makes policing with the standard model pretty much impossible.

http://www.e-doca.eu/content/docs/Tipping_Point.pdf

For example, during the darkest days of the crack epidemic, when certain neighborhoods were having a handful of shootings every night, almost none of these crimes were ever closed. As the total number of crimes goes down, the likelihood that any one of them will be solved increases significantly.

Secondly, crime fighting is a partnership between citizens and the police. There are certain parts of the city with a complicated relationship with the police force. We can run down all the various historical and cultural factors as to why this is so, but you can't ignore it.

We should always be looking for ways to counteract these two tendencies, but you can't do this just by blindly assigning the same number of officers to all areas--or even by throwing more officers at the problem in general. The sad irony is that, in very high-crime areas, it's very difficult to implement policies to make even a small dent.

A lot of times, staffing is bulked up in areas where there's some kind of "actionable intelligence". You get this intelligence from involved citizens who are willing to be the eyes and ears of the police. Also, it's more easily ascertained by analyzing an environment where crime isn't so hypersaturating that patterns can emerge.

by oboe on Feb 3, 2011 1:22 pm • linkreport

4000 cops for a city the size of DC is a lot. I remember doing a back-of-the-envelope calculation of the number of police in the District -- somewhere around 12K -- capital, park, uniformed secret service, transit, etc. In fact, the point was that this is the most over-policed city in the world.

So I'm not sure more bodies is always the answer.

by charlie on Feb 3, 2011 1:23 pm • linkreport

@Oboe... The participation between citizens, MPD and I'll even add US Attorney's Office is critical. I can't find the statistic now, but at one of our meetings the Commander said that MPD only witness a small percentage of crimes that occur. They need the community to speak up.

PSA 606 has been able to rid ourselves of drug dealers because we call the police if anything looks remotely suspicious, once their is an arrest we track the case and submit Community Impact Statements to the courts to be considered during sentencing.

by Veronica O. Davis (Ms V) on Feb 3, 2011 1:31 pm • linkreport

Yeah,

Per capita DC has more police officers than every other major city in the US.

Citizens per Officer

DC - 150 - 1
NYC - 241 - 1
Chicago - 212 - 1
LA - 380 - 1
Boston - 307 - 1

And thats just the MPD, we haven't even counted in the thousands of Capital Police, Park Police, ATF, FBI, Federal Protection Service, Secret Service officers who may not patrol DC, but are all packing guns riding the metro, driving the streets etc and who would or could step in if they saw something.

Fact 1 - DC is a virtual police state
Fact 2 - East of the river is a horrifying ghetto. Been that way for 40 years, looks to continue. The crime problem East of the River won't be solved by police, it needs to be solved by the residents.

by freely on Feb 3, 2011 1:35 pm • linkreport

East of the river is a horrifying ghetto. Been that way for 40 years, looks to continue. The crime problem East of the River won't be solved by police, it needs to be solved by the residents.

Careful - they don't appreciate people who tell the truth on here when it conflicts with their urban fantasies.

by MPC on Feb 3, 2011 2:00 pm • linkreport

Fact 1 - DC is a virtual police state.
Fact 2 - East of the river is a horrifying ghetto.

Wow! Both Saddam's Baghdad *and* lawless Mogadishu. Quite the trick there! Always entertaining to hear from folks who get their first-hand knowledge of the city from the Washington Post Metro comments section.

:)

by oboe on Feb 3, 2011 2:04 pm • linkreport

@freely: Outside of the Park Police, none of those feds you list do policing in DC (and even Park Police has limited jurisdiction). "Step in".. yeah, right a) They would have to get out of their cars first and b) that would require federal co-operation. Hows that work out for us? And I would love to see how many of them "ride the metro packing heat". Laughable at best. Like getting PG county to patrol their borders. Laughable.

Fact 1. MPD is a large policing force, dealing with issues that plague all cities and dealing with issues that plague no other city in the USA (jurisdiction of so many federal forces).
Fact 2. Crime is solved when resident and police work together. Police alone cannot do it. Residents alone cannot do it.

by greent on Feb 3, 2011 2:08 pm • linkreport

@ greent; nope, almost all of them have citywide jurisdiction. Crack-head broke into my car at embassy function, uniformed secret service chased him down and arrested him. Same with Capital Police. Hell, I've seen GAO police respond. Smithsonian police? USPS police? FPS?

Throw in private security - some of whom are armed -- and you've got something like 24K "guards" in the District.

I'd agree are significant coordination problems, but there are a shitload of police inside the District at any one time.

by charlie on Feb 3, 2011 2:12 pm • linkreport

"We are losing officers faster than we can hire them," notes Baumann."

MPD loses officers not because the pay is bad or the conditions are awful, but because our officials, from Sergeants on up are often vindictive, nasty, and heavy with the discipline for minor offenses. Officials often cater to the irrational whims of vocal, self-appointed neighborhood leaders. Many of the stations are in poor condition and extremely insecure. Vehicles are in often in terrible condition mechanically. Working officers are not well-rewarded and get discouraged by the fact that the Department and the OPC entertain many B.S. complaints that get filed. SLAPs get no complaints and magically end up getting into specialized units, details to better days off, etc.

If the officials started working on some of those issues, retention wouldn't be a problem. Considering the Academy takes nine months to train someone, costing $48,000 for the first year salary plus equipment and training costs, it would save a boat load of money if the department listened to officers and tried to improve working conditions.

__________________________________________________

"MPD is shrinking. The force is down to 3,800 sworn officers, according to various sources, but Crump puts the number at 3,912."

This number is meaningless because it is a general total. How many officers are out on injury? How many are detailed to outside agencies and task forces? How many are in Admin assignments in the Districts or at 300 Indiana?

__________________________________________________

"Crump says an additional 60 officers and sergeants in tactical units are assigned to the Sixth and Seventh Districts. Furthermore, 25-30 members from the Patrol Support Team and 60 from the Narcotics and Special Investigations Division work in 6D and 7D according to Crump."

NSID GRU and MSF parachuting into a district to occasionally recover a gun or do a few buy-busts and then vanishing like a fart in the wind does not solve the issues in PSAs...and don't get me started on Patrol Support. Sending inside people outside into the districts where they many have never worked doesn't solve any issues beyond freeing up district officers from hospital details and static posts. PST units don't take runs unless the dispatcher remembers they're out there and they won't answer up for runs in their assigned areas. They're worse than useless for patrol.

__________________________________________________

"And thats just the MPD, we haven't even counted in the thousands of Capital Police, Park Police, ATF, FBI, Federal Protection Service, Secret Service officers who may not patrol DC, but are all packing guns riding the metro, driving the streets etc and who would or could step in if they saw something."

Just because they're packing and wearing uniforms doesn't mean that they're useful to police the city. US Capitol, Uniformed FBI, Uniformed USSS, FPS, USGPO, USMP, Federal Reserve, etc. focus on force protection and aren't out patrolling like a municipal police force. They'll take lockups if it happens to fall into their lap but they're discouraged from doing so. If they get flagged down for something like a fight or a domestic, who do you think they call?

The only other agencies that I see put in honest-to-god police work like we're discussing here are the U.S. Park Police and WMATA.

by Officer Cicero on Feb 3, 2011 2:15 pm • linkreport

I wish GGW wouldn't perpetuate the stereotype that Wards 7 and 8 are a monolithic, here-be-dragons, wild west neighborhood. I wonder how many people reading and commenting here have ever stepped foot anywhere east of the river?

Fun Fact: In the past year, there were 33 violent crimes (0 homicides) and 70 property crimes within 1000 feet of the intersection of MLK and W, SE.

In the same time period, there were 64 violent crimes (0 homicides) and 373 property crimes within 1000 feet of Dupont Circle.

by jcm on Feb 3, 2011 2:18 pm • linkreport

Can't speak for the others, but the Capitol Police do indeed patrol their small(ish) domain. In fact, I'm pretty sure there are no MPD patrols in that area at all.

They even shot a guy on Maryland Ave a few weeks ago.

On the other hand, the fact that we have things like the GPO Police suggests the necessity for some serious consolidation and elimination of redundancies.

by andrew on Feb 3, 2011 2:21 pm • linkreport

Fascinating article, John. I love it.

As I have noted when I did my ride-along with MPD over the summer, and as I have been advising the LAPD for the last four months, isolated lower income disaffected people in suburban style developments will commit crimes. It's no coincidence that Wars 7 and 8 are arguably the most suburban and they constitute the highest crime rates in the city.

Many of the residential areas are insular and podded off, both physically and psychologically isolated. And inward-focused buildings surrounded by a wrought-iron fence? That looks like a prison. So if hour public housing projects are designed like prisons, how can we be surprised when people go there to act like criminals?

by Dave Murphy on Feb 3, 2011 2:21 pm • linkreport

Let's take Baumann at his word (something I'm hesitant to do b/c he's such a shameless publicity hound). Let's increase the number of MPD officers (ignore the lack of funding to do so). Let's send all those additional cops to 6D and 7D. If the majority of murders are committed between acquaintances, does anyone really think additional cops will stop such crimes? I can see a reduction in property crimes. But if someone is out for blood because he took offense at something another guy said, would additional cops really help stop it?

I'd be curious to know the views of Officer Cicero and Miss V on the city's lack of an effective loitering statute and the absolute insistence by CM Mendelson that such a law is not necessary?

by Fritz on Feb 3, 2011 2:28 pm • linkreport

@ greent,

Either you don't hang around much in the District or you aren't very observant. As I said above "do not technically patrol" DC, but are still present and serve a useful law enforcement purpose.

Last year I watched an off duty Secret Service officer grab a teen in Cleveland Park who had been casing the Bank of America ATM and grabbed some ladies money as soon as it came out. He held the kid till the MPD arrived.

Two weeks ago I sat next to two strapped FBI agents in a restaurant in Chinatown for lunch. There are tons of them walking the streets of Penn Quarter and Chinatown every day.

Yesterday I saw a handful of CBP officers (strapped) get off Metro at the Federal Triangle stop. The Reagan building is their headquarters.

The cap police are 1800 strong and patrol cap hill like its Kandahar. I've seen them break up bar fights that had spilled out on to PA Avenue at 11pm at night and hold them until the MPD arrived. I actully got pulled over by one last year after failing to signal a turn on Constitution to see if I was drunk.

Just because you aren't observant enough, doesn't mean that it doesn't happen.

And my original point stands. DC has more police officers per capita than any other major us city, and that isn't counting the other ~5,000 non MPD law enforcement officers who live and or work here.

by freely on Feb 3, 2011 2:30 pm • linkreport

We don't have a problem with the number of cops, we have a problem with the majority electorate in DC that elects the City Council to *not* punish anything short of murder. We have members of the City Council who think they are still on the freedom marches of 1968 in Alabama and refuse to punish anyone for anything short of murder. We also have an explosive family violence problem that no one wants to talk about. Kids are being beaten and verbally abused daily by intoxicated parents. It's all part of "growing up tough" but it's killing this city.

by Booya on Feb 3, 2011 2:40 pm • linkreport

Communities east of the river have a truly dynamic and rich history (going back as far as the 1820’s and the Good Hope Tavern, etc.) that is often forgotten in lieu of contemporary generalizations and stereotypes from outsiders looking in and the reality lived by those who see it every day.

Many have heard the well-known axiom that, “Georgetown, today, is what SE used to be like and SE, today, is what Georgetown used to be like.”
However, some streets and neighborhoods in 6 & 7D are eerily quiet at night and exponentially safer (based on stats not perception) than parts of Conn. Ave or Wisconsin Ave., but other areas such as Butler Gardens are known in the streets for the killers they have produced.

As an insider looking and living in 20020, I think for communities east of the river to “change” as defined by the oldest old-timer to the newest newcomer, than certain conversations need to occur between folks instead of one group controlling the conversation to the detriment of the other. The inner-workings and politics east of the river is another conversation for another day but some have touched on it.

The commercially desolate lower Anacostia now has a new restaurant that has been the toast of the neighborhood for months before it opened.

Change is and has been slow to come east of the river, but, disputable or not, it is coming. When will it arrive? The important drop in our city’s murder rate over the past half decade or so cannot be mutually exclusive to east of the river.

In a struggle for “power” or “empowerment” there has to be honest dialogue.

by John Muller on Feb 3, 2011 2:50 pm • linkreport

@ greent; nope, almost all of them have citywide jurisdiction. Crack-head broke into my car at embassy function, uniformed secret service chased him down and arrested him. Same with Capital Police. Hell, I've seen GAO police respond. Smithsonian police? USPS police? FPS?

There was the Seth Joyner case in Trinidad a few years ago, as well. He was shot in an alley after he pulled a gun on a joint task force of MPD and NPS (i.e. Park Police) officers.

http://www.tbd.com/blogs/tbd-latest/2011/01/no-charges-for-officers-in-2009-killing-7857.html

I remember there was some outcry from members of the community who were quite angry that Park Service officers were doing police work.

by oboe on Feb 3, 2011 2:56 pm • linkreport

An interesting read for the GGW set..

The New Yorker
A Reporter at Large: After Welfare
by Katherine Boo
April 9, 2001
http://www.newyorker.com/archive/2001/04/09/010409fa_fact_boo

by John Muller on Feb 3, 2011 2:58 pm • linkreport

Top ten low points of GGW:

1. Blogger meeting with Catoe where he forgets to mention, oh, by the way, he is quitting the next day....

2. Ken Archer attacking Georgetown students...

3. Lance

4. Ken Archer pretending Fenty-Klein have super-secret planning method called "play it by ear..." when dealing with bike lanes

5. "Blacks don't like the cold"

...

by charlie on Feb 3, 2011 3:12 pm • linkreport

@freely: wow, do you ever not insult people? Just because I am observant enough to notice that.

@charlie: thanks for letting me know my error on jurisdiction - I was quite incorrect. Now I wonder why that nice FBI agent didn't stop the bum harassing the woman yesterday in front of 10th & E.

Now, about Kandahar in the USA......

by greent on Feb 3, 2011 3:44 pm • linkreport

@jcm... I've offered to provide Freely, MPC and Charlie with a tour of Fairfax Village/Hillcrest. I even offered a police escort to protect them from all those "flying bullets", but none have taken me up on my offer. I guess it's easier to criticize than it is to expand their horizons.

@Fritz... Re: Loitering Law. I know it's a complicated issue, but I think something needs to be done. My neighbors and I have been fighting loitering at the Fairfax Village Shopping Center for over 2 years. Fairfax Village is mostly single women (young professionals and retirees). However, the shopping center constantly has men who don't live in the neighborhood just standing there. We finally were able to get the property manager to add "No Loitering" signs, which now allows MPD to tell people to keep it moving. It's refreshing to be able to go to the post office and not be harassed by men.

The rub with legislation is my neighbors and I like to stand on the corner with our dogs talking. Technically we'd be loitering. Crime policy is not my area of expertise, but I did suggest to the Council to research best practices from around the world. There has to be a way to implement a policy w/o stifling the ability of a community to have social interactions in the public space.

@Booya... Good point. We had a resident who was found guilty of possession with intent to distribute cocaine. She got 1 year probation and had to move out of the community. Good for us she is gone, but the problem is just displaced.

@Dave Murphy... interesting point regarding the impact of urban form on behavior.

by Veronica O. Davis (Ms V) on Feb 3, 2011 4:02 pm • linkreport

@jcm... I've offered to provide Freely, MPC and Charlie with a tour of Fairfax Village/Hillcrest. I even offered a police escort to protect them from all those "flying bullets", but none have taken me up on my offer. I guess it's easier to criticize than it is to expand their horizons.

Maybe we could organize a GGW group-ride? We don't even need a police escort now that SE Jerome's on board!

by oboe on Feb 3, 2011 4:09 pm • linkreport

John, as a 20020'er, I thought this was a well written piece. Like you stated, many of us are more than familiar with the high levels of crime in areas EOTR. For us, it helps to explain why, when preelection talks focused on drop in crime, many of us (who were objective) were less impressed and certainly didn't use that particular talking point to justify our support for Fenty/Lanier.

Yet, I have lived here going on nine years and can testify to the changes I've seen EOTR. Change has been slow but change nonetheless. I don't know how much the relationship between the community and MPD has improved over the years but do believe this "no snitching" climate is not as bad as it once was. elements of such are still here but we would be remiss if we didn't acknowledge the "indifference" to report a crime or help another in distress is being found around the country, more and more nowadays.

Remember the white guy who was assaulted at L'Enfant and no one came to his aid? No one.

by HogWash on Feb 3, 2011 4:19 pm • linkreport

4,000 or so sworn officers. How many of those are assigned to the districts. How many of those spend their time baby-sitting dignitaries, running motorcades and other non-neighborhood-policing duties, such as staffing parades and protests? While the numbers of cops per 1000 residents looks impressive, there are a lot of unique factors in DC that account for being thin on the ground.

by Paul on Feb 3, 2011 4:24 pm • linkreport

Veronica,

Listen, I applaud you, really... for being an urban pioneer and moving into crime infested ghettos like EOTR. Thats how transformation starts. I sincerely wish you luck and I hope more follow you. As I said, police can't do anything about the obvious crime problem EOTR, it will require its residents to do that, more folks like you.

But it simply doesn't change the fact that 20% of the cities population is responsibile for 50% of its murders.

It doesn't change the fact that 30% of its residents don't even have a highschool diploma and that it has a 20% unemployment rate, nor does it change the fact that 35% of the population lives below the poverty line or that literally 50% of the population (Ward 8) receives food stamps.

I've driven through your area a couple times in the past year or so and I have zero reason to do it again. There is simply nothing there. No commerical retail, no worthwhile restaurants, no bars or clubs, no one I know lives there and yes, it has an obvious and documented crime problem that would make most squeemish.

by freely on Feb 3, 2011 4:34 pm • linkreport

@freely... moving into crime infested ghettos like EOTR.
Hillcrest is a crime infested ghetto? Who knew.

"But it simply doesn't change the fact that 20% of the cities population is responsibile for 50% of its murders."

That would imply the entire population of 140,000 residents living East of the River are murders. The actual number of bad apples is probably only a couple hundred.

It doesn't change the fact that 30% of its residents don't even have a highschool diploma and that it has a 20% unemployment rate, nor does it change the fact that 35% of the population lives below the poverty line or that literally 50% of the population (Ward 8) receives food stamps.
Do you have any constructive solutions? How do we improve the schools? How do we create jobs?

There is simply nothing there.
We have four art galleries, an indoor ice rink, Ray's the Steaks, parkland out the wahzoo, a museum, a new bar &grill (grand opening tonight), Ray's the Steaks, state-of-the-art theater/multipurpose facility that is apparently good enough for Senator Dodd to bring his daughters for ballet classes. We are more residential than other part of the City, but we have a little more than nothing.

by Veronica O. Davis (Ms V) on Feb 3, 2011 4:49 pm • linkreport

*The actual number of bad apples is probably only a couple hundred.

and by this I mean all crimes.

by Veronica O. Davis (Ms V) on Feb 3, 2011 4:50 pm • linkreport

From MPD's website: "Due to the significant number of candidates currently being moved through the police officer and reserve police officer hiring process, the Metropolitan Police Department is temporarily not accepting police officer or reserve police officer applications at this time. Please continue to check the website for further updates."

How is that considered hiring?

by Martin on Feb 3, 2011 4:56 pm • linkreport

...two museums that I know of.. (the FD house and the Smithsonian Anacostia museum)

by Tina on Feb 3, 2011 5:00 pm • linkreport

Can't we just put a soccer stadium there and call it a day?

by Shipsa01 on Feb 3, 2011 5:02 pm • linkreport

Whew! Thanks Veronica and I'll one-up you, "The nation's capital current Mayor lives in a crime-infested Ghetto

Clearly, freely speaks out of both ignorance and a need to be provocative - Glen Beck/Sarah Palin style.

These people do exist and fortunately, GGW provides them a space to be who they are.

And just to think, oboe wondered why we can never have fruitful discussions on race.

by HogWash on Feb 3, 2011 5:18 pm • linkreport

Are there any beat officers in SE that are encouraged to have positive interactions with the community? It seemed like the fake cell phone picture snapping was just an attempt at intimidation and dominance.

What if half the officers were bike based wearing light blue uniforms focused much more community integration?

Think Disneyland 'happy policeman'. He could cruise by a cluster of males and comment on how the weather is nice tonight. Then he could ask if they knew anyone of a busted street light or sign that he could pass on to the mayor's office to get fixed. Or an elderly person who could benefit from Meals-on-Wheels. After collecting the information provided, he could thank them and cycle off. While cycling off, he could instruct them to 'stay out of trouble'. Keeping a beat, he'd visit them on a consistent basis in a noticeable pattern.

If we want people to respect the neighbourhood and community, maybe we should treat them like they are part of it.

How would you treat tinted windowed cars rolling through your street snapping your picture? (Other than Google)

by shy on Feb 3, 2011 5:59 pm • linkreport

And just to think, oboe wondered why we can never have fruitful discussions on race.

Well, if I remember correctly, I think I said it was difficult. Actually, I think forums like this make racial discussions *easier* rather than harder. Once we learn to ignore folks like freely who are obviously arguing in bad faith. Case in point: Veronica's "Why No CaBi In SE" piece, which I thought was quite brave and insightful. Sure 3 or 4 GGW regulars jumped on her for her "cold" comment. But most of us asked for clarification, got it, and moved on. Can't just throw up your hands and let the idiots win.

by oboe on Feb 3, 2011 6:11 pm • linkreport

@Shy.... Each PSA is different. I live in PSA 606 and we have a great Lieutenant that is a firm believer in community policing. Attitude reflects leadership.

PSA 606 has Full Stride Officers (beat officers) that are usually on bike patrol in very specific areas. One is dedicated to Fairfax Village (including the Shopping Center) and the other is at Good Hope Shopping Center. Their entire shift is spent within a small radius and they have certain places they have to "log in" every few hours (literally go to a specific location and sign a log). The single families which are more spread out have a dedicated officer in a patrol car. He has certain "log in" locations (i.e. rec center, senior center, rental offices).

Layered with that the Lieutenant requires the regular patrols to park the police cars and walk around to get to know the community. In addition, some times they have to drop off paperwork to a superior they'll pick a meet up point in the community versus the Substation. In addition, usually 3-4 police officers regularly attend our civic association and ANC meeting.

As you pointed out it builds community and they get to know who belongs in the neighborhood and who doesn't. Which is helpful since we do have young people that fit the typical descriptions (late teens, black male with dreads). Also in a community that doesn't have a strong male presence, it gives the young boys in our neighborhood a male authority figure. The police regularly talk to the young guys about school and/or work.

by Veronica O. Davis (Ms V) on Feb 3, 2011 6:32 pm • linkreport

I really don't know what more I can say. I go out of my way praising Veronica for her lives choices, yet that doesn't mean I can't also point out the unbiased factually documented facts. Some of you want to make this about race, I've yet to mention race once in this thread.

Thats not "arguing in bad faith", it is simply the truth. The homicide stats right out of this blog by Muller. I don't see anyone accuse him of "arguing in bad faith".

Those folks who go through rehab programs...what do they say...that "the first step of recovery is admitting you have a problem". Blind defenders of EOTR should take that to heart.

All I see is a bunch of people, folks I would venture who are recent DC arrivals (past 5-7 years) going out of their way to make countless excuse for EOTR...one after another after another who do anything but admit there is a problem. I've lived here for decades, seen economic booms and busts, seen billions of District and Federal tax dollars spent EOTR, and despite all of that, EOTR continues to disintegrate while the rest of the city flourishes.

The state of EOTR, while incredibly sad, is also well documented. You can bury yourself in the crime, education, poverty, income and demographic data covering EOTR that all says one thing. It's truly amazing the level of cognitive dissonance of some folks that make them blind to all of it.

by freely on Feb 3, 2011 7:05 pm • linkreport

@ Veronica O. Davis (Ms V)

I must confess a lot of my misguided views on SEDC and MPD come from an over exposure to WJLA news during the 90s. The gun waving officer at a snowball fight fits right in to my expectations for them.

That is great to hear about PSA 606. It sounds like that Lieutenant is working hard to turn things around. I hope those working with him are as committed to community policing and know why they are doing it. I'd hate for the beat officers to get resentful to the approach because they feel like they just running around to fill out log books.

Like you touched on in your last paragraph, I've wondered about the lack of men in the community and how that affects those growing up. Males seem to go for role models and hierarchies. One would think the lack of positive role model men in the community is contributing to them joining up with the more gang and crew to fill that need.

And thanks for the articles you have written for GGW and your community involvement in EOTR.

by shy on Feb 3, 2011 9:00 pm • linkreport

@freely.... Clearly we are never going to see eye to eye. I never stated that EOTR didn't have problems. As you pointed out it's a sad situation. I ask if you had any solutions. Dwelling on statistics isn't going to make the problem go away.

Millions has been shelled into fixing the problem, but I always wonder are we 1) fixing the right problem and 2) using metrics/performance measures (let alone the right metrics). Usually the answer to both of those is no.

@Shy... It's my understanding the beat officers specifically request to be beat officers. I guess I should clarify that when they do their check-ins they usually stay there for a while. They like interacting with the community and the only have to police a small area. What I hear them complain about more is having to do paperwork at the station.

Thanks for the support.

by Veronica O. Davis (Ms V) on Feb 3, 2011 10:42 pm • linkreport

Veronica,
You know reading this article has given much clarity on how ignorant and arrogant people in this city has become. I too, live EOTR and am not for people (outsiders) sh*tting on my neighborhood. However, I've also lived in other parts of the city (the other 3 quadrants)for a lengthy amount of time. My question is what part of the city this "freely" live or frequents, because I'm not even sure that he lives in the city. But I can provide much information on the state of the other (3 quadrants) of the city and where it has been. Apparently, he thinks that the other parts of the city has been, what it has just recently become-for a long time frame, when 2 out of three of those quadrants or sections of the city have been just as low-rate (as he would put it) as he claims this one is. Yes, there is a factor in being truthful to the state in which this community is in. Actually it has gotten alot better. But, I am not standing for someone who's going to get negative and mock those who've made the choice of living and yes being a pioneer in a community that has made strides. He stated that there is no reason for him to frequent or visit this area, then goodriddance. He can stay the hell where he's at. With that attitude, no one would even want him over here and his presence would not be an asset nor beneficial anyway. No one likes a pooper, and from what I've read, he has done nothing but poop the entire segment of this post. Aside from that, yes I do agree with Oboe, that police and residents must be proactive in combatting crime, which needs to be stressed to both residents and officials. I believe that if the city can turn around Columbia Heights, and H Street, then it can happen for our community as well. As a matter of fact, wasn't the H Street Corridor/Trinidad area the same area in which they've had the "controversial" Checkpoints? Why is that not happening over here? That is another question that must be addressed considering the role of involvement with MPD. They were clearly open to having that in that section of the city, even without unanimous support from residents and it has made a difference. Why are they not looking into doing that in the troublespots in our area. Sometimes it is not always the residents, sometimes it's the call of MPD as well. There should be no reason as to why the subject of moving officers from one precinct that is in very much need of law enforcement to a precinct that is only in need of roving patrol to deter theives. But then again money talks as always. JMO.

by LuvinDC on Feb 4, 2011 1:42 am • linkreport

@LuvinDC: wasn't the H Street Corridor/Trinidad area the same area in which they've had the "controversial" Checkpoints? Why is that not happening over here?

Acquaintances of mine that lived in Trinidad did not like those checkpoints. The suspicion was not uplifting the neighborhood, and it took longer to get home. Checkpoints annoy the local law-abiding residents, and damage neighborly relationships that police need for witnesses to cooperate. And I do not think they helped with the revitalization of H Street.

For some people from the hinterlands, all of DC is a crime sewer and there should be checkpoints throughout the city. There is a grain of truth to that perception. So, LuvinDC, how would you feel about police checkpoints on your street, based on what some people think that do not live here? I know I would not like it.

by goldfish on Feb 4, 2011 2:28 am • linkreport

Acquaintances of mine that lived in Trinidad did not like those checkpoints. The suspicion was not uplifting the neighborhood, and it took longer to get home. Checkpoints annoy the local law-abiding residents, and damage neighborly relationships that police need for witnesses to cooperate. And I do not think they helped with the revitalization of H Street.

right, but there was a lot of community ambivalence about these checkpoints. Some neighbors supported them; some did not. But the impetus for these checkpoints wasn't based on some suburban fantasy of violence. It was that there were a series of murders--by non-residents--in about a ten block area. The checkpoints were an effective way of temporarily putting a halt to that cycle of violence.

Bottom line is, the neighborhoods that are "safer" tend to give police more leeway in their operations because the residents tend to have more faith in the police. Obviously that's not a one-way causal relationship, but the factors tend to be mutually reinforcing.

by oboe on Feb 4, 2011 9:09 am • linkreport

Oboe: Bottom line is, the neighborhoods that are "safer" tend to give police more leeway in their operations because the residents tend to have more faith in the police. Obviously that's not a one-way causal relationship, but the factors tend to be mutually reinforcing.

There is some truth to this but weren't those checkpoints ruled unconstitutional or was it another policy implemented under Fenty/Lanier?

by HogWash on Feb 4, 2011 9:42 am • linkreport

Oh and you are right. I think you did say "possible." I should have added a :) after it anyway

by HogWash on Feb 4, 2011 9:48 am • linkreport

OK, I just have to hop in here. Officer Cicero stated that the U.S. Park Police are doing real police work in DC... UNBELIEVABLE comment. MPD is really the only group in DC doing actual police work. All the others, including USSS/FBI/Capital, are doing protective work. Park Police? Wow, glorified park rangers. When they stay in the grass they are fine, anything beyond that - toe stepping and jurisdiction confusion.

by Rusty S. on Feb 9, 2011 10:13 am • linkreport

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