Capitol Hill Community Turns Out for Meeting on Recent Spike in Muggings

CM Wells and MPD Commander Hickson Talk About Capitol Hill Street Crime

Thurday Night's Meeting on Street Crime at Hill Center

Capitol Hill Community Turns Out for Meeting on Recent Spike in Muggings

by Larry Janezich

Last night, some 50 Capitol Hill residents attended a meeting in The Hill Center to hear Metropolitan Police explain their continuing efforts to address a sudden spike in pedestrian and business robberies in the neighborhood.

The meeting was hosted by Councilmember Tommy Wells, who characterized the rash of muggings as “trending crime.”  Wells said that a commonly heard refrain is that crime is an expectation that goes with living in the city.  Wells’ said, “[m]y expectation is zero crime – no matter what neighborhood you live in.” 

There were a total of 14 robberies in December of 2011, many of them near Eastern Market Metro.  All but one of the robberies took place at night, and pedestrians were the victims in all but one.  (Radio Shack suffered an armed robbery on December 23.)  There have been no instances of pedestrian crime since MPD instituted a plan to address the issue, though a 7/11 was held up January 2.    

MPD Commander Hickson, Lt. Fowler and a handful of police officials and officers were on hand to explain MPD’s response to the spike and to tell residents what they can do to protect themselves and their community. 

Among the points stressed by Commander Hickson were:

Technology (read iPhones/androids) makes you a target.  (Would you walk around holding $400 up to your ear?)

Be alert and stay observant.  Part of the problem in making arrests is the inability of victims to identify their assailants.

Don’t hesitate to call 911 if you have suspicions of criminal activity.

Go to the MPD website ( and sign up for “Alert DC Rapid Text Notification.”   Alert DC is an emergency notification system that provides different ways to get real-time text information regarding police activity and to help citizens prepare for and respond to emergencies and disasters.  

Finally, Dickson urged citizens to get involved with their Public Service Areas (PSAs).  Involvement, he said, can be coordinated through (ANC6B) Commissioners – most of whom were present at the meeting.

ANC6B06 Commissioner Jared Critchfield subsequently said that he was encouraged that so many people had turned out for tonight’s the meeting, and emphasized the importance of participation in the monthly PSA meetings.  He urged that residents take note of the PSA boundary changes that went into effect January 1.  The new map cam be viewed here:


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8 responses to “Capitol Hill Community Turns Out for Meeting on Recent Spike in Muggings

  1. Sara

    Make that MPDC.DC.GOV – thanks Larry!

  2. NG

    PSA stands for Police Service Area, not Public Service Area.

    Also, are you sure Wells said these particular muggings were a trending crime? I remember him talking about trending crimes versus crimes perpetrated repeatedly by the same assailant(s), but I don’t remember him stating unequivocally that these particular muggings were trending. Have the police made that determination yet?

  3. John

    Not cool that the victims keep getting blamed for “holding $400 up to your ear.” Are we all supposed to give up technology while outdoors (and in a supposedly “safe” neighborhood)? Maybe only make calls on rotary phones in the safety of our homes? How about putting more cops on the street and having real community-police interaction?

    • NG

      Commander Hickson made a point of saying that he didn’t mean to blame the victim. Still, there is such a thing as prudence, isn’t there? And, realistically speaking, how on earth can the police be everywhere at once (because that’s what would be required, given how ubiquitous iPhones are)? As a woman I’ve always felt I’ve had to be extra cautious at night (technology or no technology). I don’t like having my freedom curtailed, or being dependent on my husband (to meet me at the metro at night), but it’s something I have to live with. If the police were doing a bad job, that would be one thing. That’s not the issue here.

  4. Tom Dunkel

    John, try looking at this problem from another perspective. If people aren’t willing to exercise basic caution to protect themselves in public, they’re essentially asking the police to be over-vigilant on their behalf. The police are asking citizen to talk a small amount of responsibility to help making the streets safe. The’re trying got help you, not intrude on your civil right to talk on the phone 24 hours a day. It’s really not that big a sacrifice. I’d venture to say 99.9 percent of those calls can wait till you’re in a more secure environment.

  5. Rosina

    Not to blame the victim, but these are facts…
    The last mugging I kinda witnessed involved a very drunk woman blabbing on her cell phone dangling her purse off her arm, ironically a half block from the same corner I was robbed on at about age 14 in ’86ish. Her response was to scream and cry, mine was to run home and dial 911 (before cell phones) Guess which guy they caught?

  6. anon

    I get that police can’t be everywhere and people need to take reasonable precautions, but it’s disheartening to hear that most incidents have occurred close to the Metro Plaza, a heavily trafficked area with an already strong police presence. I hate to point out how often I see on duty officers congregated at or in front of DD, which I’d like to think makes them close to the scene and easy to find. If I ever had an incident to report near EM Plaza I’d go straight to the 800 block of D SE (and again not to stereotype).

    What this post fails to mention is an earlier notice from Commander Hiskson on 12/22 concerning the spike in robberies

    “Almost (90%) of the robberies involve 2-3 suspects” (no mention of estimated age of suspects)
    “The peak time of the offenses is from 8:00 p.m. to midnight ( 70% )”
    “Half of the robberies involved the theft of cell phones/I-phones”
    “Most frequest days of occurrence have been Fridays and Saturdays, with Friday accounting for 43% of the offenses”

  7. MS

    It’s good advice not to walk around “with $400 next to your ear”. In addition, however, the DC Metropolitan Police needs to respond to these thefts appropriately. I was mugged in November and no fewer than three other people (in addition to myself) reported seeing the two suspects within ten minutes of the incident. They reported their observations of the suspects to the responding officer, but as far as I’m aware, none of us were asked to come in to identify suspects. Moreover, the responding officer and detective were uninterested in using my iPhone’s GPS tracking system to locate it immediately following the incident – despite my showing them the phone’s real-time location on Google Maps within 20 minutes of the theft. Exercising precaution can be a good deterrent, but so is effective police response to reported thefts.