Ward 1 Public Safety Meeting Recap - Office of Councilmember Brianne K. Nadeau
Last week I held an event on public safety to bring together the Metropolitan Police Department, youth serving organizations and neighbors before summer begins. The goal of the meeting was to make sure residents are connected to all that the DC government, its partners and I are doing in our community to keep them safe. We had more than 70 residents at the event, as well as Police Chief Cathy Lanier and representatives from each of the Police Service Areas in Ward 1 which are divided between MPD’s 3rd and 4th Districts.
Below you’ll find highlights from the presentations, including how MPD is preparing for the summer, and questions from residents, including questions about loitering, police jurisdiction at Metro stations, how to report drug dealing and security cameras.
A couple of points to highlight:
- You can always call 911 to report anything that seems suspicious.
- Reach out to your local Police Service Area (PSA) Lieutenant if there are ongoing issues, or you’d like to speak about crime in your immediate neighborhood.
- Each PSA has regular community meetings, typically monthly. Times are posted on community email discussion groups for the 3rd District and 4th District. The Third District Citizens Advisory Committee also meets once a month and welcomes new members. You can find more information at their website.
- Several ANCs also have public safety committees with meetings that are open to the public. Find your ANC here.
I am focused on ensuring Ward 1 neighborhoods are safe and secure. Everyone deserves to live in a community where they feel safe. Over a decade ago, my first community involvement was when I joined the Orange Hat Patrol with neighbors in the Meridian Hill Park area.
Now, as Councilmember, I work in partnership with MPD on the immediate response to crime when it happens to ensure they have the resources they need to keep residents safe. We can (and do) reach each other any time of day or night.
In my role, one of the things I can do is bring the community together around this issue. If you speak with residents who lived through the crime waves of the 80s and 90s, they’ll tell you that in many cases community coming together was the key to reducing violence. Neighbors created relationships with each other and in turn helped the police work effectively in community.
The Councilmember role is that of a legislator, which means I am also supporting laws that help keep Ward 1 safe. This spring, with my support, the Council passed Councilmember McDuffie’s comprehensive crime prevention bill which uses a data-driven approach to address the causes of crime. We know that hunger, housing instability, and joblessness have to be defeated to prevent crime – and we’re working to carry that focus throughout our government. I also voted for emergency legislation to address the use of synthetic drugs, and I supported the creation of a program to provide rebates for private security cameras. Throughout the budget process, I work to ensure MPD and crime prevention programs have the resources they need to serve our communities.
I am especially proud to have held the first-ever DC Council hearing on Street Harassment in December and introduced legislation establishing a task force on the issue. It would collect important data and recommend training and policy changes to help make DC streets safer by reducing street harassment.
Chief Cathy Lanier, Cathy.Lanier@dc.gov
Chief Lanier spoke about MPD’s efforts for the summer. Their Summer Crime Initiative just launched in May and focuses MPD resources on areas with high need. Their overall approach is to use social indicators and work with other DC agencies to identify people and areas that are at higher risk, and then focus resources. They work with agencies to connect potential victims or at-risk young people to proactive prevention programs. Chief Lanier stated that every year they have done the Summer Crime Initiative it reduces crime in targeted areas, sometimes by as much as 60%.
She informed us that there will be more officers on mountain bikes in all police districts this summer. There will also be more foot patrols of officers walking in groups in business areas and communities, which is also good training for rookie officers.
MPD is going after repeat offenders and is coordinating with the Office of Attorney General and other agencies. They are also working in proactive teams to place youth in the Summer Youth Employment Program.
Commander Jacob Kishter, MPD Youth and Family Services Division, Jacob.Kishter@dc.gov
Commander Kishter is the former commander of MPD’s 3rd District, which covers much of Ward 1, but now serves as the commander of the division of MPD that addresses youth-related issues. He explained that the division covers a wide range of situations including abuse, missing persons, internet crimes, child trafficking, youth who have run away from their homes, repeat offenders, and all youth who have been arrested. For multiple arrests and serious violations they work with the US Attorney’s office and Attorney General. It also has a youth intervention and prevention unit that tries to keep kids from being rearrested, especially if it’s minor crime and a first arrest. They have diversion programs such as a summer youth academy and an empowerment program for at risk boys and girls and do outreach to kids who have been arrested or were victims of crime and then work with their families to provide wrap around services. They work to give kids hope, and keep them out of the system if possible.
Alonzo Holloway, Roving Leaders Program, Alonzo.Holloway@dc.gov
The Roving Leaders program at the Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR) has been in existence 54 years. They work with kids in DPR recreation centers, do outreach in the community, in schools, and do home visits. Their goal is to point kids in the right direction. There are four Roving Leaders in Ward 1 (and 30 across the city). They work with MPD and other agencies to keep youth from committing crimes. Often they host events or do trainings in schools. During the summer they have a camp for youth 7-13 years old. Residents can make referrals to the Roving Leaders program.
Josue Salmeron, Collaborative Solutions for Communities, email@example.com
This group serving District families has been around 20 years and has developed a youth violence prevention program with MPD. The program targets youth affected by violence and aims to prevent retaliation, including gang violence. Their other work focuses on workforce development and returning citizens and families.
Captain George Caldwell, Narcotics and Special Investigations Division (NSID), George.Caldwell@dc.gov
This group conducts parallel investigations with MPD and is out in the community at events. The unit deals with drug cases and its major case unit is MPD’s main narcotics investigation unit which deals with large scale traffickers and larger crimes in the city. It also handles cases involving sex trafficking, forced labor and prostitution. Their undercover unit is on the street every night where they work to take guns off the street. They also do drug awareness and prevention programs for kids, teachers, health care professionals and parents.
Commander Stuart (Stu) Emerman, 3rd District, Stuart.Emerman@dc.gov
This is Commander Emerman’s third time working in MPD’s 3rd District, which includes the majority of Ward 1. His focus is on working together with the community. He appreciates the opportunity to collaborate with residents, because once MPD has information from residents they can act on it.
Commander Wilfredo Manlapaz, 4th District Wilfredo.Manlapaz@dc.gov
The 4th District includes the northern portion of Ward 1. They work closely with the 3rd District and speak regularly with Councilmember Nadeau. Some of the major issues they hear about are loitering and public intoxication. Commander Manlapaz also outlined the process of working with the US Attorney’s Office and the Attorney General on prosecution of suspects. He encourages community members to consider writing a Victim Impact Statement about the offense, which judges consider when sentencing.
Questions from the community
Question: I see people hanging out, drinking and smoking marijuana in public. Is there a way to get an anti-loitering law in place?
MPD: Anti-loitering laws have been struck down as unconstitutional in many cities. But you are describing illegal activities that we can address including drinking and consuming marijuana in public. The goal is avoid arrest and to get them help, unless they are a repeat offender. Your PSA Lieutenant can work with the beat officer to focus on problem areas. These are issues we can deal with effectively without a loitering law.
Question: In Adams Morgan we see police congregating in one place. Shouldn’t they be spread out?
MPD: This is a management issue that their Sergeant can address. They are allowed a 30 minute break during their 8.5 hour shift. Sometimes they will be meeting collectively. If they are hanging out for 45 minutes, that’s an issue for the Commander to address.
Question: Have police thought about working with other agencies on the larger issues of alcoholism and drug treatment?
MPD: Yes and we do. Recently, we were out at 3 in the morning last weekend in Adams Morgan to bring the services out to people. We bring the other agencies such as ABRA out with us because police are very visible and people will come to us with issues and we can connect them. (Councilmember Nadeau also included social service agencies on her Public Safety Walks last summer.)
Question: Sometimes we see kids traveling in groups after school and they get in fights and then run into the Metro. If something happens outside the Metro but then they run inside who do we contact? Sometimes we hear, “Oh that’s Metro Police.” How do you work together?
MPD: The answer is never “that’s not my jurisdiction.” MPD makes arrests on Metro and Metro Police make arrests topside. Complain to the supervisor immediately about that. The situation you describe we see all the time for example at Dunbar with kids running into NY Ave Metro. If you see something happening and you dial 911 and say the person ran into the Metro we may get the call since the incident happened topside. There is also a lot of video in Metro so even if the person is on a train by the time you call 911, we can work with school administrators to ID the kids.
Question: How should the community effectively report drug dealing in the neighborhood?
MPD: The first step is always the PSA Lieutenant. We make most of our drug arrests on the street. If it’s something that NSID needs to handle the PSA officer will know that, perhaps if there is a sophisticated way of selling. You can also post things on the listserv if there is activity that is concerning. We all watch those listservs and it’s a way for us to monitor the community. You can always call 911 and you can remain anonymous if you wish. Sometimes it may take more time to address a chronic issue. Sales out of a house for example is much more complicated and takes a very long time to address. There is a high bar. People who have been arrested before know this.
Question: I want to ask about cameras. We had a prostitution problem and the location got cameras and it dropped the problem significantly.
MPD: We now have a security camera rebate program (supported by Councilmember Nadeau). Cameras, lighting, calling in about drug complaints are all helpful. It helps us build our case. Saying “there’s drug dealing” is okay, but if you can say “it’s a green car, this tag, this time every day” that is even better. You can call 911 too. Anything suspicious, activities, people or vehicles. More description is good for the investigation. Even something that might not seem relevant like “I saw him doing something with his waistband.” That little bit of description could be the difference between the case moving forward or not.
If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me or my team. I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at (202) 724-8181. I look forward to working with you to keep Ward 1 safe. If you’d like notices about future events, please sign up for my emails at brianneknadeau.com and follow me on Facebook and Twitter.