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Pressing for a Crime Emergency in Ward 5

Councilmember Harry Thomas, Jr. (D-Ward 5) called yesterday for D.C. police to declare a "crime emergency" in his ward, the second council member to raise an alarm about neighborhood violence this week.

Muriel Bowser (D-Ward 4) held an emergency meeting Tuesday night to discuss the two homicides last weekend in her ward-- one in the 1200 block of Kennedy Street NW and another behind the 6900 block of Georgia Avenue NW.

But it seems police aren't taking Thomas' crime-fighting suggestion.

"There won't be a crime emergency," said police spokeswoman Traci Hughes.

The councilman says his ward is in a dire situation.

He noted that robberies and killings are up. There have been nine homicides this year, most of which occurred in the Langston, Trinidad, and Edgewood neighborhoods. Last year at this time there were six slayings.

He wants Chief Cathy L. Lanier to follow the direction of former Chief Charles H. Ramsey who declared citywide crime emergencies, including one in the summer of 2006, when homicide and robberies jumped sharply.

The emergency in 2006 gave Ramsey the freedom to switch officers schedules and have them work extra days and hours for much longer stretches of time. It cost the city $14 million.

"The declaration of a Crime Emergency in 2006 quelled a surge of violence that had overtaken the city.
We have a similar level of violence right now in Ward 5," Thomas said in a news release. "I would like to see what worked at the city-wide level implemented at the Ward level. We must do whatever it takes to bring an end to the violence gripping Ward 5."

Police said the district commander in charge of Thomas' ward has already put more officers out on the street, and more are coming.

Thomas might try talking to Assistant Chief Diane Groomes who is in charge of patrol. She has the authority to move officers around from district to district -- and as long as she doesn't change their schedule -- it doesn't have to cost the city a dime.

While crime is up in some areas of the city, violent crime citywide is down five percent.

Allison Klein

Also: Klein writes today about Police Chief Cathy Lanier's scaling back of her gun search program.

By Marcia Davis  |  April 4, 2008; 7:05 AM ET
Categories:  City Life , D.C. Council  
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I live in Ward 5, and I have to say - the city doesn't seem to care much about the less-well-off, minority sections of the city. My neighborhood is right on the edge of NoMa, and if the city wants to see development in that area, it seems they would be interested in lowering crime rates.

Posted by: rmiriam | April 4, 2008 7:57 AM | Report abuse

I live in Ward 4 and was at Bowser's crime emergency meeting. I grew up in DC and echo rmiriam's view that the city doesn't care about the perceived "poorer" areas of the city. We have had more than 20 shootings in Ward 4 since October and nothing has been done. Just a few shootings in Friendship Heights or Chevy Chase and the city would be calling in the national guard. The police blame residents for not helping them solve crimes, but do you know what happens to the oridinary citizen who does go out of his way to help the police? He gets harassed, assaulted, and maybe even killed himself because the city can't keep criminals behind bars where they belong. And apparently harassment and assaults don't generate a lot of attention from the police. So, you learn to just keep your mouth shut, talk with no one, and go about your business, praying you or your family isn't caught in the crossfire. That's reality. Until the city does something to change that, nothing will change. Whole neighborhoods are being terrorized by groups of young men who don't pay taxes and don't vote. And where was Fenty at that crime meeting? He lives in Ward 4, so why wasn't he there?

Posted by: Stats | April 4, 2008 12:46 PM | Report abuse

The problem is leadership, and Harry Thomas Jr. has consistently been the worst Ward Council Member. He has no pull within the legislature or with the Mayor.

Posted by: AJordanMBA | April 4, 2008 4:06 PM | Report abuse

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