Posted tagged ‘Public Safety’

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.

Special Public Safety Meeting Scheduled for Park View on Wednesday 6/26, at 6 pm

June 24, 2019

Commander Randy Griffin and Captain John McDonald of MPD’s 4th District have scheduled a special community meeting to discuss community safety concerns within ANC1A / the Park View Community.

The meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, June 26th, 2019 at the Park View Recreation Center located at 693 Otis Pl NW, Washington, DC 20010 from 6pm to 7pm.

This meeting is open to the community, and I encourage neighbors to attend if they are available as I know we all have questions about public safety in light of the recent homicides and other violence in our community.

Most recently, on June 22, 2019, at approximately 9:50pm, patrol officers of the Fourth District received a 911 call regarding a shooting in the 600 block of Morton St NW and the 3400 block of Georgia Avenue NW. Upon officers’ arrival, one adult male was located in an unconscious state on Morton St NW with multiple gunshot wounds. The male was transported to a local hospital where life-saving measures proved futile and he was pronounced deceased. Another adult male was located in a conscious state on Georgia Avenue NW with one apparent gunshot wound to the body. The male was transported to a local hospital and listed in stable condition.

This was hot on the heals of a homicide that occurred on June 19, 2019, at approximately 9:25pm, on the 700 block of Princeton Pl. NW. When officers of the Fourth District arrived on the scene, the victim was located in an alleyway suffering from gunshot wounds. The victim was transported to a local hospital, where life-saving efforts proved futile. The victim was later pronounced deceased.

With the murder of Breon Austin on April 19th, this makes three homicides in 2019 so far for the year in Park View, which is a marked increase. Overall in ANC1A, there have been 5 homicides thus far for the year with two more occurring along 14th Street in Columbia Heights.

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.

Park View UNC Public Safety Meeting Scheduled for May 1 @ Park View Recreation Center, 7-8 pm

April 30, 2019

The May 1st meeting of the Park View United Neighborhood Coalition will focus on Public Safety following the tragic loss of 16-year old Princeton Place neighbor, Breon Austin on April 19th. Below is the meeting announcement:

Although violent crime rates in the city and our neighborhood overall are on a long-term downward trend, recently gun-related crime is on the rise throughout the city, including in Park View. A little over a week ago, our neighborhood experienced the tragic loss of 16-year old Princeton Place resident Breon Austin to gun violence.

Please join the Park View UNC for a community discussion this Wednesday, May 1 at 7pm about how we can help ensure that all residents of our neighborhood are safe and secure. We’ll be joined by Earl Davis from the DC Department of Parks and Recreation to speak about the group he runs for neighborhood teens each week at the Park View Rec Center, and by Captain Sean Conboy from the Metropolitan Police Department, whose district includes Park View.

As usual, we will also have updates from our elected officials’ offices and time for community announcements.

We are also working to schedule speakers from the Attorney General’s office and other public safety-related agencies for future meetings.

UNC Monthly Meeting: Public Safety in Park View
Wednesday, May 1, 7-8pm
Park View Rec Center, 693 Otis Pl. NW (entrance on Warder; we meet in the room at the back)

Ward 1 Public Safety Meeting Scheduled for April 30th

April 26, 2019

Public Safety, and effective ways to ensure it in our communities, is something that is important to everyone. Here is an opportunity for residents to get engaged, show support for efforts that are working, and offer feedback on strategies that are falling short.

Councilmember Nadeau has announced the date and location of her 4th Annual Ward 1 Public Safety Meeting which will be on Tuesday, April 30th on U Street.

What: 4th Annual Ward 1 Public Safety Meeting

When: Tuesday, April 30, 2019

6:30pm: Open house with brief remarks

7:30pm: Meet neighborhood MPD officers

Where: Prince Hall Masonic Temple, 1000 U St NW

More details are available here, and include the following information:

We’ll have a new format this year based on feedback from previous years.

We’ll open at 6:30pm with an open house featuring representatives and brief remarks from MPD Commanders, the U.S. Attorney’s Office, the Office of Neighborhood Safety and Engagement, Collaborative Solutions for Communities, the Ward 1 NEAR Act Study Group. Each representative will have a table and residents can mingle and ask questions.

Then at 7:30pm, we’ll be joined by neighborhood MPD officers for those who would like to meet an MPD officer who works in their neighborhood.

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 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:

 

 


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