On Thursday evening, more than 125 community members concerned with an increase in deadly shootings and violent crime in Northeast neighborhoods of the Hill met with Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) First District Commander Morgan Kane, Fifth District Commander William Fitzpatrick and Councilmember Charles Allen (Ward 6-D). The meeting took place at the November meeting of Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 6A, which sits at the intersection of the two police districts.
Community members were concerned with the uptick in crime. There have been nine homicides in ANC 6A so far this year. That’s four more homicides than at this point in 2017.
According to MPD Data, while assaults with a dangerous weapon (ADW) have slightly decreased compared the past year with 42 committed in 2018 and 46 in 2018, the use of guns in ADW has increased –five more of those incidents involved a firearm.
In a two-week span between Sept. 21 and Oct. 5, eight people were shot, seven fatally, in five separate incidents in the northeast area in and on the periphery of ANC 6A. There have been arrests in three of the five incidents, the third, an arrest in a stabbing that occurred the same morning as the meeting, was announced Friday.
Police discussed some of the causes of the increase in violence, noting that there was infighting among a group or gang of friends in neighborhoods around Benning Road NE. They also said that escalating arguments between acquaintances have turned fatal when knives and guns are introduced.
Read part I, about that discussion here.
Eyes on the Street
Residents wanted to know what they could do to help keep the neighborhoods safe. Allen said to pay attention the environmental aspects that make a block feel safe and alive, including tree-trimming and burnt out streetlights, to contact 311 or his office to work with agencies on those issues.
He also asked residents to hold elected officials to hold representatives accountable and push them to make investments to support MPD but also in violence prevention. “I think that’s where we need to put more of our resources and efforts,” Allen said, noting that many homicides were as a result of arguments that were settled with the use of a gun.
Officers encouraged residents to communicate with officers, including the District Commanders and officers in the area. “You’re going to see things that we don’t see, so if you’re going to share that information freely with us, that helps us more than you can ever imagine,” she said.
Kane suggested interested residents join the MPD list servs, saying that these both provide information to the public and act as a forum for the exchange of information. She and Allen reminded residents also of the Text Tip Line to which information, photographs and videos can be sent.
“People sent me texts and pictures, saying: they’re looking in car doors, or they’re throwing rocks, and I just send it to the officers or the watch commander, and say, ‘hey send an officer over there so they can check it out,” adding that officers were also available via email and telephone and are listed online.
Noting the critical assistance provided by residential video footage, both the District Commanders and the Councilmember encouraged residents to take advantage of the Private Security Camera Rebate Program, an initiative in part driven by legislation of Allen. It provides a rebate of up to $250 per camera to a maximum rebate of $500 for residential and $750 for business and commercial addresses, and the Private Security Camera Voucher Program, providing a security camera free of charge to eligible District residents receiving public assistance.
Kane reminded the community to ensure the cameras work. “It’s a hurtin’ feeling when you’re doing a camera canvas, and you see a camera, and you think: this is going to be a perfect angle. Then you knock on the door and they say, it doesn’t work, or it’s a dummy camera.”
She also asked that people be ‘situationally aware,’ asking people to know what is going on around them rather than being buried in their smartphones. “Just like we get up to go to work, there are people who get up to go to work that are coming for these,” waving her smartphone.
She said that if it doesn’t feel right, get away from an individual or situation. “Turn it around,” she said.
“That’s your inner being talking to you, and it doesn’t normally lead you the wrong way.”
Some residents said they had been told by officers that they should not walk around their neighborhoods at night. “That to me is an unacceptable response,” Allen said, adding that Kane had worked to correct the source of any misinformation.
“We never want to discourage anyone from walking around,” said Commander Fitzpatrick. “the more people out walking around, the less likely something bad is going to happen,” he said.
Councilmember Allen said the Oct. 5 D Street homicide happened outside his home and that he could hear shots from his living room. As Kane nodded in affirmation, Allen said that as he felt confident that council had worked to ensure that MPD had the tools and resources they needed. But he emphasized prevention, noting the role of the Office of Neighborhood Safety and Engagement, created last October as an initiative of the NEAR act. Allen said that program and another, smaller program recently established in Trinidad and in Ward 8 with the Office of the Attorney General that has also gotten results, and will be evaluated and possibly expanded.
“I think that when you think of where your tax dollars and resources go, we’re patting ourselves on the back for putting in a fairly small amount of money in violence intervention,” Allen said, saying that program with the OAG cost about $750,000 while New York City invests 34 or 35 million per year in violence intervention programs annually. “I think we can be doing more as we get to violence interruption prevention on the front end, and I think that’s also going to help lead to safer neighborhoods, safer communities and a safer city.”
Find out what MPD District and Police Service Area (PSA) you live in by searching your address online. Learn more about MPD Fifth District and First District members by visiting the linked online roster lists, which also contain their email addresses and telephone numbers. Visit the websites to learn more about the Private Security Camera Rebate Program and the Private Security Camera Voucher Program. Text images, videos or tips to the MPD Text Tip Line at 50411.