Hot Spots in Park View are MPD Priority; Non-police Services Need to Step Up

Violence, and in particular gun violence, in Park View is something that many residents are deeply concerned with right now and with good reason. With 4 homicides in the neighborhood compared to 1 in 2018, crime has become notably more deadly — not just in Park View, but also in Columbia Heights and other neighborhoods across the city. Many neighbors question just what is being done to restore public safety in the community, and what is being done to address longstanding problem areas like the 600 block of Newton Place, NW. In order to get a better handle on how crime in Park View is being addressed, I met with MPD’s Patrol Chief Lamar Greene and the Fourth District Commander Randy Griffin to discuss what MPD is doing, and where other agencies or services may be falling short.

For context, I am including the 2019 year-to-date data for violent crimes report from DC Crime Cards below. While it shows overall violent crime is down, it also shows significantly that homicides and robberies are up in the neighborhood. It is also important to note that shots fired with no victim is typically not a category represented in the results, so this isn’t truly an accurate snapshot of gun events.

Violent crime in Park View for 2019 year-to-date (captured on 9/27/2019)

Following the shooting on the evening of Tuesday, September 24th, PC Greene shared the following:

Our team has and will continue patrols in the very challenging areas of [the] 600 blocks of Newton, Princeton and Park Morton.  The team has made many arrests in that area working along side our citizens.  The victim has even been arrested within the block as well.  Our investigative team is working the case and will determine all facts leading up to this shooting.  I will keep you all informed as the investigation progresses.  The Narcotics and Special Investigations Division, Commander Griffin and the Fourth District members will continue their efforts in this area.

Adding to this, Commander Griffin responded:

I can assure you that there is regular patrol in the area and the officers have been very busy.  In the past 6 months my team has affected 18 gun-related and drug-related arrests specifically in the 600 blocks of Morton St., Newton Pl, and the 3500 block of Georgia Ave.  My patrol members will continue their efforts and will investigate, apprehend and arrest the individuals in the area who have shown a blatant disregard for public safety.

What is particularly interesting with the latest shooting is that the person who was shot on Tuesday night had been arrested days prior as one of the people responsible for the significant graffiti that was painted in the area of 6th and Newton Place on September 13th. He was also the target of the shooting.

This provides insight into the broader challenge that exists when it comes to public safety and violent crime. MPD has made the trouble spots in Park View a priority, they are patrolling the problem areas, and making arrests. What appears to be broken are 1) Sentencing Guidelines and the court system; and 2) The need for non-police agencies and service providers to step up and deliver on their promises.

To provide an idea on why patrols and arrests alone, while helpful, don’t seem to be making the impact many in the neighborhood expect, here are the 2018 Homicide Victim and Known Offender Statistics as pulled in January 2019.

79% of 2018 homicides were firearms-related

2018 Known Offenders

  • 93% have an arrest history in DC. The average number of arrests per offender (adult and juvenile) is 10.
  • 49% had prior gun arrests.
  • 43% were under some sort of supervision at the time of the homicide.

2018 Homicide Victims

  • 82% have an arrest history in DC. The average number of arrests per victim (adult and juvenile) is 10.
  • 45% had prior gun arrests.
  • 36% of the victims were under some sort of supervision at the time of the homicide.

In short, this indicates that a relatively small number of individuals are repeatedly involved in homicides, and those who are either the perpetrator or victim of a homicide has a significant history as a repeat offender.

In relation to this, it was noted that residents who want to see violent crime go down, and who may be frustrated with the revolving door of the court system, may want to review DC’s sentencing guidelines and advocate for updating guidelines if they are misaligned. DC has local control of the sentencing guidelines. The value of Community Impact Statements were also noted, and there is a general sense that they do make an impact at sentencing.

I think it is important to note that no one I have talked to is dismissing the value of social services and violence interrupters, but it is also important to understand that the work they do requires a significant investment of time to build relationships, they will not be able to connect with everyone, and success may be difficult to prove as success is often a non- event (i.e., a shooting that didn’t happen). It is also notable that in order for intervention to work, there needs to be something better to offer.

This is why equal effort and investment from the Department of Behavioral Health and the Department of Employment Services (DOES) (to name two) also needs to be a focus for blocks like Newton Place. Participation in DOES’s Summer jobs program has resulted in permanent full-time jobs in places like the Department of Public Works — and job training and employment is something that has come up frequently in the discussions I’ve had with community members and Park View Rec Center staff familiar with the young people that are either involved or impacted by violence in the community.

Explore posts in the same categories: City services, Crime, MPD, Public Safety, Shootings

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2 Comments on “Hot Spots in Park View are MPD Priority; Non-police Services Need to Step Up”

  1. PVer Says:

    Everyone I have talked to is dismissing the violence interrupters. They aren’t doing anything. I would like for someone to confirm how much their contracts with the city are worth and how success is measured. Since they have been working, violent crime is up in Columbia Heights and Park View. My concern is that they are simply getting paid so councilmembers can claim they are doing something but they may actually be part of the problem. Remember, years ago the rec center staff were in on the drug dealing there too.

  2. Derek Brockbank Says:

    Interesting blog. thanks, Kent.


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