PSA Meeting Raises Question: Is Hill East Safe?
by Larry Janezich
Last night, despite two incidents of violent crime in Hill East on Saturday, only four residents showed up for the PSA 108 (see below *) meeting in Liberty Baptist Church on Kentucky Avenue. One was a new Hill East resident twice the victim of violent crime in the past two months.
The resident, who has lived in the neighborhood for only a brief time, came to the meeting to ask the MPD for their advice on areas to avoid or other safety tactics. MPD officers present declared these types of opportunistic assaults to be “everywhere,” and cautioned residents to stay off their phones while out in public (the resident was not on a phone during either episode).
Although there were arrests (by a bike cop) made in the second assault on the resident, no charges were filed, because, although the resident could identify one assailant with certainty, s/he could not identify the person who actually struck a blow versus the other person who was a companion and, presumably, an accomplice. In the case of these two arrests, Curry was able to say that one was from out of the area and the other had a family member in the neighborhood. Another resident at last night’s meeting expressed dissatisfaction with the unwillingness of the US Attorney to file charges in this case and urged ANC 6B representative Nick Burger, also in attendance, to follow up.
In response to questions regarding the crime discussed at the meeting, Curry cited the rash of recent violent crimes all across the city, calling them crimes of opportunity, and saying there are similar problems on every beat. “Assailants come from behind, mostly as it gets dark” he said, “There’s no area we can say to avoid. Robberies are mostly juveniles – mostly phones. There’s no one answer – crimes are often the result of boredom and peer pressure.”
A resident questioned MPD’s assertion at a June 1 Community Crime meeting at St. Coletta’s that there is no gang activity in Hill East. Curry clarified that the definition of “gangs” by MPD means an organization of the scale of the Bloods or the Crips, and while there is no “gang” activity by this definition, there are “crews” operating in MPD District 1.
ANC6B Commissioner Brian Flahaven, chair of the Community Outreach Task Force, has undertaken an initiative to renew the principles of community policing by strengthening the relationship between the community and the MPD. One of the deficiencies in the concept of community policing revealed in last night’s meeting is the apparent total lack of participation and investment in the concept of community policing by community organizations including, Barracks Row Main Street, Capitol Hill BID, CHAMPS, Community Action Group, Community Connections, Capitol Hill Ministries, Capitol Hill Community Foundation, Capitol Hill Restoration Society and numerous smaller community organizations – not to mention Capitol Hill media organizations.
*PSA (Police Service Area) makes MPD officials available once a month to interact with and answer questions from residents. PSA 108’s Lt. Dykes (or his designees) meets residents at 7:00pm the third Thursday of the month at Liberty Baptist Church, 527 Kentucky Avenue, SE. PSA 107’s Lt. Fowler meets with residents at 7:00pm the first Thursday of the month in Southeast Library, lower level.