How MPD Dropped the Ball Informing Community on Slasher/Robbery
Community Meeting Likely Next Week
by Larry Janezich
The two violent attacks on women within a week close by Eastern Market have alarmed the community and put MPD on the spot regarding its failure to notify the community of the first attack until seven days after the fact.
Thursday, Councilmember Tommy Wells issued a statement saying he had “been in direct contact with MPD and they are immediately increasing foot, car and bike patrols in the area.” In addition, Wells and MPD are coordinating a community meeting which will take place next week – likely on Wednesday, May 28, or Thursday, May 29. CHC will post additional details as soon as they are available.
The attacks themselves were alarming, but also of concern to Capitol Hill residents is the failure of MPD to notify residents of the first of the two attacks, until seven days after its occurrence. That attack took place on Thursday, May 15. The first notice that residents had of the attack came not from MPD, but from a recounting by the victim’s daughter of the incident and a plea for assistance in identifying the assailant. That information was posted on Monday, May 19, on Popville.com., and reads in part, as follows:
“On Thursday night at approximately 1015pm while walking home from the Eastern market metro my mother was robbed and attacked with a knife at the intersection of 9th and C St. SE. She suffered serious injuries to her neck but will make a full recovery. She’s lived on the Hill for 30 years – it’s just so awful that this type of senseless violence happens.”
Following that posting and a subsequent news story by WJLA later that day, the information was picked up by residents and distributed widely on Capitol Hill by email and on listserves. The first the community heard from MPD on the event was on Wednesday, May 21, when MPD tweeted out a request for assistance to ID a person of interest in the incident, along with a video of the individual in question pumping gas for himself and others at a gas station.
Later that same day, a second and similar attack took place within a block of the first attack a week earlier. From the MPD Twitter account:
“1D Robbery/Stabbing-2147 hrs/ 200 blk of 8th St SE/ LOF B/M, 5’07”, wht or lgt button down shirt, blu jns. L/S east thru alley//2159”
Capitol Hill Corner has ascertained in the case of the first attack, that although the information was correctly transmitted to the Central Command Information Center (CIC), an officer at CIC failed to process that information which resulted in a failure in the automatic generation of a Twitter alert to community listserves and a posting on the MPC Daily Crime List.
Capitol Hill Corner contacted MPD to ask why the community had not been promptly informed of the violent assault and was referred to the Gwendolyn Crump, Director, Office of Communication. Crump sent the following statement to Capitol Hill Corner:
“Regarding your inquiry on why the public wasn’t immediately notified about the incident that occurred last week. The report for this incident, which occurred late in the day, unfortunately just missed being added to the data warehouse by mere minutes. The officer completed the full report just a few minutes after the data refresh for that day’s records had already begun and the reports were added to the data warehouse. As a result, the automatically-generated listserv crime report, which is generated directly from the data warehouse, did not include this incident in that day’s listserv crime report. The incident does, however, appear in crimemap.dc.gov, which is another avenue for residents to obtain crime data for larger time periods that can be customized by the user.”
The statement refers to completion of a “full report” which clearly was not a full report. The statement allows the reader to infer slip-shod performance – shouldn’t the officer have waited until the data refresh was complete before signing off on adding reports to the data warehouse? The statement goes on, employing a technique frequently used by MPD, saying in effect, “Well, this was a mistake – still, the information was available to those residents who go to crimemap.dc.gov.” As if.
There was a five day lapse between the attack and residents alerting the community via email and listserves. MPD chimed in on Twitter the 7th day after the first attack. It goes too far to say that the MPD lapse played a part in the second attack. But the Command Control Information Center and the officer responsible for the failure need to be held accountable. The community deserves more than a public relations statement glossing over the incident. It deserves certain knowledge regarding what actions have been and will be taken to ensure such lapses do not recur. These questions should be asked at the forthcoming community meeting.