Violent Crime With Guns in Ward 6 Is Up Over Same Period Last Year
by Larry Janezich
CM Charles Allen convened a Ward 6 Public Safety Meeting to talk about violent crime Thursday night. The meeting, at Watkins School, drew more than 100 residents. Allen told them that to date, there has been an increase in violent crime involving guns over last year: comparing figures as of 11/20/19 with the same period in 2018, violent crime involving guns is up 28% – a 36% increase in assault with a dangerous weapon and a 31% increase in robberies. Overall, however, violent crime in Ward 6 spiked in 2015, declined in 2016 and 17, and leveled out from 2017 – 2019. (See chart below.)
When each of the five ANCs making up War 6 is looked at separately, violent crimes of any kind are up in all ANCs except ANC6E. Homicides are up in ANC6B and ANC6D. Assaults with a dangerous weapon were up in all ANCs except ANC6A. Robberies were up in all ANCs except ANC6E. (See chart below.)
Allen cited his efforts to address the violence, including increasing the penalties for high capacity ammunition magazines and banned bump stocks, writing and seeing passage of the Red Flag law to remove guns in dangerous situations. (See Safety Meeting Presentation details, see here: http://bit.ly/2OAcgqq)
Following up, representatives of several agencies and organizations summarized their role in addressing aspects of violent crime.
Commander Morgan Kane, MPD First District said MPD’s role is to preserve and protect, working with other agencies which deal with violent crime. Kane’s top priority is to remove illegal guns; second is to pay particular attention to repeat offenders. “The emphasis is on focusing on the right people,” Kane said, “some people we have to get off the street.” She noted that currently, “There are a lot of juvenile robbery crews running around.”
Jullian Brevard – Acting Chief, Juvenile Section, Office of the Attorney General, described his agency’s role in prosecuting juveniles 17 years old and younger. (The Office of the US Attorney General prosecutes adults and some juveniles accused of committing more serious crimes that are charged as adults.) Brevard walked attendees through prosecution options and the prosecution process. He said his office was not only about persecution, but accountability and rehabilitation.
Dell McFaddon, Executive Director of the Office of Neighborhood Safety and Engagement spoke on the NEAR Act and his office’s efforts to head off violent crime, using violence interrupters in troubled neighborhoods. In addition, his office administers the Pathways Program, working with 50 high risk individuals who have encountered the criminal justice system through multiple arrests or have been the victims of crime, to help normalize their lives.
Eric Weaver, founder, Neighborhood Association for the Advancement of Returning Citizens, is concerned with the problems faced by returning to the community after being incarcerated. He said, “It’s important how we want them to return and how we treat them when they do return. Most returning citizens coming home want to do right. When they are not accepted in the community, they are more likely to return to crime.”
Rachel Usdan, DC Chapter Leader of “Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America,” spoke of the efforts of the national organization of volunteers to pass gun safety laws.
After those presentations, the meeting’s format departed from the usual audience back and forth between the attendees and officials. Instead, Allen asked attendees to participate directly in a conversation in one of three areas. Allen asked the audience to divide into three groups to discuss: 1. Safe passage to and from school, 2. Violence interruption, and, 3. Returning citizens.
After the audience reassembled and the groups reported on points raised during the discussion, Allen said it was important for the community to sit down and engage in these conversations. He said what he was hearing was that solutions require hard work and a multifaceted approach – a holistic approach involving pulling a lot of levers (referring to the engagement of numerous agencies simultaneously). He said we also have to do a better job with coordination and communication – “I often think we have one community which is one, two, or three communities which don’t talk to each other. The question is how to knit them back together.
Asked for reaction, ANC6B Commissioner Jerry Sroufe told Capitol Hill Corner that he welcomed a meeting which was not sparked by community concerns over a specific incident, as well as the change in format. He expressed concern about the rise in the statistics showing an increase in violent crime in Ward 6. And he said he thought that small group discussions were more productive than the usual random Q & A or comments typical of many public safety meetings.