E-mail enables debate between D.C. resident, police commander
A recent e-mail exchange on a public discussion forum between a D.C. resident and a police commander is an interesting example of something I've written on -- how citizens use technology to respond to public safety issues, and how law enforcement feels pressure to respond directly to them.
Columbia Heights resident William Jordan, a frequent contributor to many neighborhood discussion groups, said on a neighborhood discussion group that he was perusing the District's crime mapping tool and discovered that homicides in a cluster known as PSA 302 had jumped substantially between 2007 and 2009.
Robberies were also up. All of this was notable, Jordan said, because the area included the DCUSA Mall, billed as a centerpiece for the revitalization of the neighborhood.
The PSA represents about billions of in public and private investment over the last 6 years and in many ways is a microcosm of this city's future. By almost any measure public safety efforts over the last 3 years are not producing acceptable results...We need a change in priorities, strategy and approach.
Inspector Jacob Kishter, commander of the Third District substation, replied less than an hour later, copying all of Jordan's recipients.
Kishter acknowledged issues in the community, saying the police were working on the problems, had reached out to political leaders and would soon be reaching out to the public to discuss things further:
While there is yet much work to be done by everyone from the public to the Police Department we have made great strides over the past year with many successes. Year to date violent crime overall in PSA 302 is down 5 percent. Robberies are down 4 percent.
As far as the homicides are concerned, one is way too many. Our mission is to prevent the murders from occurring in the first place. We have sent a strong message that when a murder occurs in our city we will work tirelessly until there is closure and the responsible subject(s) are arrested.
In the most recent PSA 302 murders, there have been closures in a matter of days. However, we can not do this alone and we continue to need the assistance from the community in a collaborative partnership to ensure that our streets are safe.
Over the past 4 months we have implemented several new strategies with much input from community members who have been instrumental in our success. Our new Robbery Tact Unit has made 17 recent robbery arrests, which involved the closures of multiple cases.
Last week with the help of the public we arrested a serial robber who attributed to many of the robberies not only in PSA 302, but in other police districts. With the subject’s arrest we closed 2 bank robberies, multiple street robberies, and several armed carjackings.
Commander Kucik and I have implemented foot beat patrols in our most violent areas which include 24 hour coverage. We have stepped up our drug enforcement efforts in the same areas which have included short and long term investigations which have yielded numerous key arrests.
[Today] we are meeting with CM Graham’s office to develop a comprehensive approach to fighting crime using whatever resources we have at our disposal, which will involve input from the community. A public meeting will be held in the next week.
There is much more work to be done and we look forward to our future successes.
Jordan responded a few hours later, accusing Kishter of "spinning the data" and not laying out a change in approach in his message.
Kishter replied quickly, writing "That was not my response and there will be change."
Jordan softened a bit in his next reply, telling the commander "all of this does not fall on you." "I am not so much interested in change," he continued, "as much as for mothers to send their children out to play with little worry and etc.."
Kishter gracefully ended the exchange that started before 9 a.m. with this final note shortly before 3 p.m.:
Thank you sir for your leadership and I look forward to working with you on these and other issues. If a new approach is what it is going to take we will lead from the front and be change agents! I believe we are at a "Tipping Point" and a little nudge is all we need.
December 7, 2009; 7:00 AM ET
Categories: Crime Statistics , Homicide , Personal Safety , Technology , The District , Theola Labbé-DeBose
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