PSA 108 Report – Drug Market at DC General & Phone/Package Thefts
by Larry Janezich
A handful of residents turned out in sub-freezing temperatures last night to attend a PSA 108 meeting at Liberty Baptist Church, featuring MPD’s Lt. James Dykes.
Asked about the recent FOX 5 News report on the open air drug market at DC General’s Homeless Shelter (See here: http://bit.ly/1uIXyR5) – Dykes said the First District had increased patrols and is paying extra attention to the area near the bus stop in front of DC General, where jurisdiction is shared among MPD, the Department of General Services Protective Services, and DC Transit Police. Several arrests related to drugs have been made on the DC General campus recently.
The main portion of the meeting was devoted to the statistics compiled on a monthly basis by District 1’s crime analyst, which Dykes said help focus law enforcement.
The crime statistics for the last month show a pattern of street robberies around Potomac Avenue Metro and Dykes said most of the robberies are cell phones and that young people are frequently the victims. He said that people going about their business with earphones on and not thinking they are going to have their phone snatched create “a target rich environment.” MPD is employing “directed patrols and stops” to address the problem.
Dykes also said that package thefts continue to be a difficult problem in PSA 108. Residents can help police by giving instructions to the seller to have packages delivered at a time the purchaser is home and by having packages delivered to a neighbor or nearby business or even delivered to the First District Substation. Sometimes, Dykes said, suspects are apprehended with stolen packages, but if there is no complainant, police can recover the package but cannot make an arrest.
Regarding enforcement of the new law legalizing marijuana in the District, Dykes said that no new guidelines have been issued to officers as of yet. The new law is scheduled to become effective February 28 – though the Washington Post hedges its bet by saying “may become effective.” See here: http://wapo.st/19mhRKq
On another problematic issue, US Attorney Doug Klein, who attended the meeting, cautioned, “If you have a bike, put it in your house, otherwise it will be stolen.” Dykes discussed in vague terms, a police program which he called a “package” that uses bikes as bait under circumstances that allow police to “apprehend suspects in a safe manner.” He said this is a tool that can be assigned to First District and one that is used here.
Bikes should be registered with the national registry to aid police recovering stolen bikes. See here: https://www.nationalbikeregistry.com/
Also attending last night’s meeting was ANC6A Commissioner Matt Levy, who emphasized the importance of strengthening the relationship between First District officials and the ANCs and urged residents to attend PSA meetings. ANC6B Commissioner Brian Flahaven – who was not present last night – had made similar points at last month’s meeting.
It seems clear that the community would benefit from greater interaction between MPD and the ANCs and from greater participation in PSA meetings by residents. Not only can residents provide information to police to help them target problems in their neighborhood, but the police have some sense of accountability to the community.
A useful website that is underpublicized at both the PSA 108 and PSA 107 meetings is the DC Police Crime Mapping website: http://crimemap.dc.gov/
For example, in a few key strokes you can find details on the type and location of each of the crimes reported within 1000 feet of Potomac Avenue Metro (or any other address) in the last 30 days. Go here: http://crimemap.dc.gov/Report.aspx