Archive for the ‘Public Safety’ category

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

September 27, 2019

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.

MPD Fourth District Leadership Meets with Park View Community on Public Safety

June 27, 2019

MPD Fourth District Capt. John McDonald (left) and Commander Randy Griffin (right).

In response to recent violence in the Park View neighborhood and staffing changes within the Metropolitan Police Department ((MPD), MPD Scheduled a community meeting on June 26th at the Park View Recreation Center. The meeting was well attended and included ANC1A Commissioners Michael Wray and Kent Boese as well as representatives from the Mayor’s and Councilmember’s offices.

The meeting was presided over by the new 4D Sector 3 Police Captain, John McDonald and Fourth District Commander, Randy Griffin.

While there was little information the officers could share about the active homicide investigations related to the June 19th shooting death of 29 year-old Juan Marcell Grant on the 700 block of Princeton Place, NW and the June 22nd shooting of two people on the 600 block of Morton Street where 45 year-old Melton Grant was killed, they did respond to overall public safety concerns and share some information.

Commander Griffin shared that the murders are unrelated and acknowledged that the gun related crimes are up in many parts of the city, not just in Park View. He also shared that the typical age range for those involved in shootings is between 18 and 24/25. It was interesting to note that Captain McDonald shared that MPD officers in the Morton Street area have also been shot at themselves while on patrol and that special officers have been assigned to the area. Additionally, on Morton Street MPD is collaborating with the DC Housing Authority Police for that area.

According to MPD, often what is happening is that a petty argument escalates quickly and one person has a firearm, often illegal, who then used it. For this reason, MPD has made illegal gun retrieval a priority as part of their response.

Additionally, the meeting afforded an opportunity to have a more robust conversation about public safety in general, address tensions between newer residents and long-term residents, and emphasized that staying alert and being aware of your surroundings is instrumental in staying safe when out in the community.

At the close of the meeting the Park View Rec Center staff also gave an overview of their programs and what they are doing to help reduce violence in the neighborhood, including a summer basketball tournament for young men ages 16-18 and a series of community events in the works for Friday’s this summer.

Heads Up, CSOSA & MPD Third District Hosting Public Safety Roundtable

June 10, 2019

I’ve just been notified of the following CSOSA/MPD 3D Community Roundtable to promote Safe Neighborhoods that will be on the evening of June 20, 2019. Please see the flyer below for details.

While this event is at the Third District Substation, the information should be relevant to all residents regardless of what police district they live in.

If Removing On-Street Parking Spaces Also Removed an Open-Air Drug Market, Would That Be a Fair Trade?

April 25, 2019

The 600 block of Newton Place, NW, has been a difficult street for many years. It is narrow. It does not have street trees. And, it has had an on-again, off-again history of open-air drug dealing. We all know that crime is a complicated thing to solve. Clearly, the police play a role, and continue to do so on Newton Place. Social Services also play a key role and we are increasingly identifying public safety issues that are better suited for agencies geared toward addressing addiction and homelessness, as examples.

But what about planning and design? The short answer is yes. Poorly planned roads, streets, and infrastructure can similarly invite criminal activity or at least provide a desirable environment for it.

The 600 block of Newton Place is one area that I believe rises to this threshold.

One recent Saturday as I was walking down the block, I noticed that a brand new Audi A6 was parked on the block, about mid block, with out to District tags. As I was walking, another vehicle with out of District tags parked on the block. The new driver got out of their car and walked up to the Audi where the two then proceeded to conduct a drug transaction. This was shortly before noon.

It got me thinking — if the on-street parking on the block is being used as part of an active drug market, is it serving the community? Moreover, would there be a significant hardship to the neighbors if much of the on-street parking was removed? Even more, if the parking could be removed, could a portion of it be repurposed for street trees on a block where no street trees currently exist.

The overview below shows the area in question. Today, Newton Place is one-way eastbound. There is no parking on the north side of the street and 22 parking spaces on the south side of the street.

(Overview of the 600 block of Newton Place, NW. The red arrow indicates off-street parking currently unused.)

Of the 22 parking spaces currently on Newton Place, I would recommend keeping the five between Georgia Avenue and the entrance to the alley. These support the Ward 1 Senior Wellness Center and the businesses on Georgia Avenue. Also, any resident can park in them afterhours for free. Lastly, as trash and recycling is collected in alleys in Ward 1, keeping the street in its current configuration up to the alley entrance would not create a new hardship for these core city services.

This would leave 17 parking spaces that could potentially be removed. In walking the alleys both north and south of Newton Place, with few exceptions each property has access to off-street parking. Much of it is used, though some of it isn’t. In one case, the apartment building at 636 Newton Place appears to have room for 4 or 5 parking spaces, but the area is fenced off and currently unavailable. This wouldn’t have to stay this way.

(Parking area at the rear of 646 Newton Place, NW, that is currently fenced off.)

In reviewing the current inventory of current and potential alley parking for the properties along Newton Place, about 10 new spaces could be accommodated without significant hardship — this means that the net loss of parking would be 7 spaces.

The question becomes, would losing 7 spaces overall on Newton Place be an agreeable trade off if it also removed the opportunity for out of District vehicles to park there and conduct their drug business on a daily basis?

As a potential bonus, presuming there were wide support for decreasing on-street parking on Newton Place, a portion of the former parking area could be repurposed for about 8 new street trees (see image below).

(Could a portion of the parking on Newton Place be repurposed for new trees?)

As stated at the beginning of this post, Newton is a narrow street currently consisting of one travel lane and one lane of parking. The average width of an American car is 6 feet, meaning that if just 3 feet of the street formerly dedicated to parking were repurposed for a line of street trees, the travel lane would increase in width by 3 feet. The overall result could be a street with less crime, a safer street for travelers, and a more beautiful street with the addition of a tree canopy.

Police District Changes Take Effect

January 10, 2019

At last night’s Advisory Neighborhood Commission 1A meeting, Fourth District Captain Sean Conboy — who is new to the Fourth District — briefly discussed the changes to the Third and Fourth Police Districts announced last month and informed the assembly that they take effect today, on January 10th. He also stated that no staffing changes are being made right now, so essentially the same manpower will now be focused in the same PSA geographic areas (though those area’s boundaries have changed). The Mount Pleasant neighborhood moved to the Third District.

To assist with what areas are impacted and what the Police Service Areas boundaries are, refer to the two maps below. You can also find contact information for officers on the Fourth District Roster, available here.

New District Boundaries

New PSA Boundaries

Police Redistricting Schedule for January 2019, Will Unite Park View

October 24, 2018

According to a Tweet by Kevin Donahue, Deputy Mayor for Public Safety and Justice, Police Chief Peter Newsham discussed the planned police district boundary changes that will go in effect in January with Mayor Bowser and the Council of the District of Columbia at their breakfast on Tuesday, October 24th. In looking at the images Donahue shares, for Park View the area bordered by Columbia Road, Sherman Avenue, Park Place, and Park Road would move from the Third District to the Fourth District. See below.

Another big change is that Mount Pleasant would be moved from the Fourth District to the Third District.

You can see all the maps shared by Donahue at his Tweet below:

 

 

Come Joing the Community Dialogue with MPD Cheif Peter Newsham This Saturday February 10th

February 7, 2018

On Saturday, Feburary 10th, there is an excellent opportunity to engage and speak with Police Cheif Peter Newsham on issues concerning public safety in Park View. The following details were shared on the Park View listserv. All are welcome and encouraged to attend.

The Park View UNC’s Public Safety Working Group and ANC1A Cordially Invite you to

A Community Dialogue with MPD Chief Peter Newsham
and other guests
on Public Safety in Park View

This Saturday, February 10th from 10:15-noon
Park View Rec Center, 693 Otis Pl. NW (Entrance on Warder St.) 

Please join your neighbors for a dialogue with Peter Newsham, Chief of the DC Metropolitan Police Department, regarding public safety in our neighborhood. Representatives from the U.S. Attorney’s Office have also been invited to participate.

The meeting will include brief presentations from members of the Park View Public Safety Working Group highlighting areas of concern for our community, followed by a dialogue with Chief Newsham and other guests. All Park View residents are welcome to attend and ask questions.

Many neighbors are likely aware that 6 shootings have taken place in Park View since December 20th. This meeting will be a chance for in-depth discussion of how the community and MPD can work together to make our neighborhood safe for all. It will cover both recent incidents and longstanding community concerns.

We hope to see you on Saturday! If you are interested in becoming part of the Park View UNC’s Public Safety Working Group, please email elanor(dot)starmer(at)gmail(dot)com or
cliffvalenti(at)outlook(dot)com.


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