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Henson Ridge residents vent crime concerns to Marion Barry, police at meeting

D.C. Council member Marion Barry (D-Ward 7) met with about 30 residents and employees of the Henson Ridge community in Southeast Washington Thursday night to discuss ongoing concerns about crime and a current of division between homeowners and renters in the mixed-use community.

Residents like Lorraine Carter, a senior renter, discussed fears that the community still faces the threat of property crimes and gunfire. The management office was broken into over the New Year's holiday; Thieves heisted computers during the burglary, sparking fresh concerns that 2010 is off to a rocky start.

In December, the Post outlined the issues facing this development in a report I co-wrote with my colleague Theola Labbé-DeBose.

Barry at the Henson Ridge meeting. (Clarence Williams/Post).

"We've got cops in the area, but yet we still have crime. Why?" asked Carter at the meeting, which was held at the New Image Community Baptist Church in the 1800 block of Alabama Avenue in Southeast.

D.C. police Cmdr. Joel Maupin, of the 7th District, said police have made some arrests in a rash of burglaries that plagued the area, located between Alabama Avenue and Stanton Road, last year. He said police have seen a dip in reported crimes in recent months; he also said he is no longer seeing weekly burglary reports after police increased patrols by footbeat and bike officers during the day and a scout car beat on the midnight duty tour.

Still, he cautioned that "It's not Shangri-La yet."

Maupin also advised residents to increase their involvement in neighborhood watch programs. "It's a program that can be very effective for your community," he told the group. "If I'm a criminal and I know that I can commit a crime in your neighborhood and no one's going to call police, then I'm going to do whatever I want to."

Barry shepherded the meeting, asking questions of both officials and the residents. He asked how many residents were involved in the watch program and only three hands were raised. When he asked how many would be interested in joining only another handful went up.

Among the challenges in the community are deepening divisions between homeowners and renters. The latter group includes families that receive subsidies.

"We've got to find a way to bring the homeowners and the subsidized housing renters into some kind of governance and information sharing," Barry said. "That's my desire."

Barry said he would hold a follow-up meeting with the community in about a month. He also pledged to meet with developers and residents from both the renter and owner groups to address the crime situation and other problems.

-- Clarence Williams

By Clarence Williams  |  January 22, 2010; 1:06 PM ET
Categories:  Clarence Williams , The District , Updates  
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Marion Barry for mayor! Bring back the good old days and let the good times roll!

Posted by: checkered1 | January 22, 2010 3:18 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: wendy_lewis2 | January 22, 2010 4:59 PM | Report abuse

"We've got to find a way to bring the homeowners and the subsidized housing renters into some kind of governance and information sharing," Barry said.

The problem with Henson Ridge is that a large crime ridden area (project) is rebuilt selling home to middle class buyers without telling them that a good portion of their neighbors are being subsidized. I'm sure that if the builder had informed the protental buyers that residents of the previuos low income project would be their neighbors they would have a harder time selling the houses. If the kids were high school dropouts and unemployed living in apartments in the projects moving them into a house isn't going to change their mindset.

Posted by: Jimof1913 | January 22, 2010 6:22 PM | Report abuse

I'm so glad I didn't fall for the sales pitch to buy one of those homes when they were being built. It pays to trust one's gut!

Posted by: schooletal | January 22, 2010 7:03 PM | Report abuse

why would you buy in the middle of simple city?

Posted by: SofaKingCool2009 | January 22, 2010 10:49 PM | Report abuse

A community meeting and only 30 show up?

The biggest single reason that places like this have the crime they do is that they tolerate it. It doesn't take long for the thugs to realize that tolerance will become an invitation, even if the police have a presence.

These people need to learn that once the crime moves in, they'll need to either force it out themselves or just get used to it.

Sad that even gentrification would work in a place like that.

Posted by: rustybud | January 23, 2010 12:08 PM | Report abuse

Sorry -- wouldn't work in a place like that.

Posted by: rustybud | January 23, 2010 12:08 PM | Report abuse

It's the "snitches get stitches" mindset. If we won't tell what we do we expect things to get better?

Posted by: fotochief | January 23, 2010 6:46 PM | Report abuse

It's not just a mindset, snitches really do get "stitches"... and worse! It's time for the police to take some responsibility of their own and actually do their job instead of blaming their ineffectiveness on residents not coming forward to help them. Don't these cops realize it's these same residents who pay their salaries in taxes? So now the cops want the public to not only fund their salaries and department but also to help them do their jobs? The levels of arrogance from MPD is astonishing.

Posted by: BCTW | January 28, 2010 1:17 PM | Report abuse

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