30 Day PSA Crime Maps Show Violent Crime Up on Capitol Hill
Ed. Note: Correction. CHC erroneously reported that there would be a Crime Meeting PSA 108 Crime Meeting on September 6. CHC regrets the error.
Hill East PSA 108 Crime Meeting Thursday Night at Liberty Baptist Church
By Larry Janezich
Capitol Hill residents have been alarmed by the increase in violent crime this summer and MPD statistics justify those concerns. In the First District, which includes Capitol Hill, violent crime over the past 30 days is up 23% over the previous 30 days and 41% over the same period last year. There were three homicides in the last 30 days in the First District, one more than the previous 30 days. Most of the increase in “violent crime” can be attributed to robbery with a gun, assault with a dangerous weapon (excluding a gun), and assault with dangerous weapon (gun). Property crimes increased slightly over the last 30 days.
The problem is not unique to the First District and Capitol Hill. On Monday, Police Chiefs from across the country convened in DC to discuss the recent increase in violent crime in general and homicides in particular. According to a report by Will Greenberg in Tuesday’s Washington Post, police have not been able to discern the reason for the increase in violence. Some of the trends which some say contribute to the problem include gang related activity and synthetic drugs. The officials recommended stricter gun laws, harsher penalties for gun crimes, and improving community partnerships.
On Capitol Hill, the faltering effort at partnering with the community is evident at the mostly poorly attended PSA (Police Service Area) meetings. ANC6B’s Constituent Services Committee, chaired by ANC Commissioner Brian Flahaven, has undertaken the task of assessing ways to improve communications between the ANC and MPD.
To that end, MPD could do its part by strengthening the presentations at the PSAs and making them more informative – perhaps by distributing copies of crime maps for the two or three previous months to help identify trends and hotspots.
I have attended many of these meetings and quality of information varies to a considerable extent. Routinely, officials presiding over a PSA meeting read a list of crime statistics for the past 30 days, citing whether there has been an increase or decrease over the previous month or the same period last year and take questions from those attending the meeting. However, officers often seem unprepared for questions regarding a particular noteworthy crime, one that has stirred neighborhood concerns and drove turnout out the meeting. In addition, MPD officials presiding over a particular PSA meeting often express ignorance of or indifference to what is happening in a neighboring PSA, despite the fact that the residents of Capitol Hill obviously do not vest all of their concerns in just one arbitrarily drawn area on a map; we live, walk, dine and move between and among different PSAs on a daily basis.
Efforts to improve communications at the ANC level would seem to be justified – one idea worthy of consideration is the inclusion of an ANC representative in the weekly or monthly MPD ”Core Team” meetings. The Core Team was established by the Office of the Mayor several years ago to operate at the ward level and is comprised of MPD, DPW, DCRA, DOH, OAG and perhaps others, to address coordinating city efforts to address problem areas.
ANC6B will consider public safety recommendations of its Constituent Outreach Committee at its September monthly meeting. Some of these will include a proposed letter to MPD asking for reinstating publicizing of narratives associated with individual crimes – a practice dropped by MPD some years ago, but one that helps residents understand patterns of crime, if there are any to be discerned – and proposals to reinvigorate the PSA meetings.
PSA 108, featuring MPD Lt. James Dykes, meets at 7:00pm, at Liberty Baptist Church, 527 Kentucky Avenue, SE, Thursday evening. ANC6B Commissioner Brian Flahaven says, “I encourage anyone who has questions or concerns about recent criminal activity and incidents in the neighborhood to attend the meeting. Lt. Dykes and his officers will provide the latest information and answer resident questions.”
The city has seven police districts, each divided into Police Service Areas. Capitol Hill’s First District has 8 PSAs. See here: http://1.usa.gov/1J3W2Kp
Below are maps of the violent crimes in PSAs on or near Capitol Hill for the last 30 days and the comparable number for the 30 days prior to that.
A useful website that is underpublicized at the PSA 108 and PSA 107 meetings this reporter has attended is the DC Police Crime Mapping website: http://crimemap.dc.gov/