D.C. police dole out annual awards
D.C. Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier saluted more than 200 officers, detectives, officials, volunteers, federal authorities and civilian employees Wednesday night for achievements during 2009 at the department’s 10th annual awards ceremony.
The event brought officers in dress blue uniforms across the stage of The Town Hall Education Arts and Recreation (The ARC) to recognize thousands of arrests, undercover investigations and crime reductions in some of the city’s most violent areas.
In an interview, Lanier said she gives awards throughout the year, but relishes the ceremony because it gives officers a chance to let their families see the importance of their work and to show that the department is also a family.
“I think it means a lot to them and a lot to the community,” said Lanier, who hugged practically every award winner who came to the stage.
Among those recognized were several units, including the 7th District vice unit, which logged more than 1,700 arrests for weapons, drug and prostitution offenses in far Southeast, officials said.
The 5th District Street Crimes Unit from Northeast was honored as the “Crime Suppression Team of the Year,” and credited with about 9,300 arrests, including 1,100 warrant arrests.
Lanier, who told the hundreds gathered at The Arc’s theater, that she was a 5th District resident, that she constantly saw the unit backing up other officers on traffic stops and when she visits the unit they wear “impeccable uniforms.”
Two patrol areas from east of the Anacostia River, traditionally the city’s highest crime area, received awards for connecting with residents and lowering crime statistics.
Police Service Area 706, a patrol assignment in the 7th District were awarded the PSA of the year for the city, and recognized for establishing community policing partnerships with residents, Advisory Neighborhood Commissions and business owners. The patrol area saw a 29 percent drop in homicides, a 40 percent reduction in sexual assaults and assaults with a deadly weapon dipped by 17 percent, officials said.
A few miles north in the 6th District, Cmdr. Robert Contee accepted the Crime Reduction Award as his patrol district bested six others for overall lowering of crime. The 6th District saw a 10 percent in crime, including a drop in homicides of 23 percent and a reduction of stolen autos by 12 percent.
D.C. Council Member Yvette Alexander (D-Ward 7) rushed the stage after Contee accepted a plaque and hugged the commander responsible for police services in her ward.
“My hero!” Alexander said as she wrapped her arms around him.
“Thank you Chief, now give him a raise,” Alexander quipped as she left the stage.
In 2009, the city saw historic lows in the number of homicides and police officials closed many murder cases. Lanier selected several members of the homicide unit as sergeant of the year, lieutenant of the year and detective of the year.
Lt. Michael Farish, who has served as an acting captain for more than a year, was recognized, along with Sgt. Robert Alder and Detective Robert Cephas. Alder and Cephas were members of Squad 5 in homicide, which had the highest closure rate (84 percent in 2009) in the homicide unit for the third year in a row.
Cephas was praised for being a soft spoken, but determined investigator who has a career closure rate of 89 percent for his three years in homicide, and closed cases at an astounding 150 percent in 2009.
“He stands steady. He’s what every detective ought to be,” said Lt. Ozetta Posey, his supervisor.
When asked what it felt like to win, Cephas praised his seven colleagues in his squad and simply said: “It’s because of them that I am where I am. When one wins, everybody wins.”
The final award of the night was given to Cmdr. Lamar Greene of the 5th District as Commander of the Year. The 5th also won Best Performing District.
D.C. Council Member Harry Thomas (D-Ward 5) read a council resolution decreeing Feb. 24, 2010 as the 5th District’s day and said that “these men and women you’ve recognized tonight have made our community better and safer.”
Greene, Lanier and Asst. Chief Diane Groomes also received awards from community leaders in Northeast for their work to reduce crime in the 5th District.
After the two-hour ceremony ended, Greene walked through the parking lot to his car, clutching plaques and trophies and headed back to his office.
“Back to the fighting 5th,” Greene told me. “It’s back to work.”
February 25, 2010; 10:54 AM ET
Categories: Cathy L. Lanier , Clarence Williams , Crime Statistics , Heroes , The District
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