PoP Exclusive: An Interview With Acting Ward 4 MPD Commander, Linda Brown

IMG_6054, originally uploaded by Prince of Petworth.

We learned a couple of weeks ago that Ward 4 received a new acting police commander. I had the great pleasure of sitting down with the acting commander, Inspector Linda Brown.

About Inspector Brown

Inspector Brown is 42 years old but could easily pass for 24 years old. But make no mistake she is no nonsense and receives the utmost respect from her officers. I was pleasantly surprised to see how down to earth she was. She did not spin any of her answers. I admired her direct responses to all of my questions. Originally from Memphis, TN Inspector Brown currently lives in Clinton, MD. She has been on the force for 19 years and has had previous experience in the 4th District where she served as a Patrol Sergeant for 2 years. She describes those years as the best years of her 19 year career. She does not know how long her tenure will be as acting commander of the 4th district but while she is serving in this capacity she will serve the residents of Ward 4 and aims to “keep them as safe as they possibly can be.”

Tactics in Combating the Recent Rise in Crime

Given the recent spate of crime in Ward 4 I asked Inspector Brown if this was simply a perception or a fact. She explained that “crimestats don’t lie” and that indeed there has been an increase in robberies in the last 60 days. She also acknowledged that have been a number of reported gunshots in the last few weeks. To deal with these events Inspector Brown explained that there has been 24 hour police coverage around certain hot spots where gunfire has been reported. One of the obstacles faced is that Inspector Brown only has one light tower for the whole ward. As a result she has to decide where it is needed most , so she makes that decision and waits until that area is stabilized before moving it to the next location. Regarding the recent gunfire near Kennedy, Longfellow and Farragut streets, Inspector Brown informed me that Vice is also working the area and they have determined some of the names of the players involved and are keeping a close eye on their activities.

Inspector Brown explained that often MPD will get indicators that there is about to be some kind of eruption in a particular area. Shortly thereafter there will be a reporting of gunshots fired. I was stunned to learn that sometimes it is simply criminals testing out new weapons. I found it to be extremely interesting that often a rival crew will then fire gunshots a few days later in retaliation for the previous shooting even though it was simply to test a weapon. Then three or four days later these crews will get into a physical confrontation. This is apparently what occurred in the area around 7th and Longfellow from Halloween to the 2nd week of November. I asked Inspector Brown how this cycle is broken, specifically I asked if it stopped because of simple fatigue? She replied “It is hard to get into the mind of the criminal whether it is fatigue or because of MPD’s 24 presence.” As long as the cycle is broken Inspector Brown “will take that as a win.”

Community Policing and Foot Patrols

I asked Inspector Brown to explain her vision of community policing that we have heard so much about. Inspector Brown explained that there needs to be a balance between foot patrols and car patrols because it is the cars that respond to 911 calls. She also explained that not every officer can be a foot patrolman. They need to find and train officers who can engage the community effectively. She did mention that Ward 4 will be increasing foot patrol beats as officers are trained. Currently there are 21 foot officers in the 4th District. Foot patrols are placed based on analysis from 4th District’s Lieutenants as well as the location of robberies and citizen concerns. There is not a precise formula but they are constantly shifting locations in order to best prevent and deter violent crime. Despite the fact that there are only 21 foot officers in the 4th District, Inspector Brown explained that officers riding in a patrol car should also park their cars and walk three or four blocks from time to time.

What keeps Inspector Brown up at night?

I asked Inspector Brown what keeps her up at night. She answered “the fear that a street robbery will turn into a serious assault or homicide.” She replied that a close second “is a burglary when someone is home during the burglary.” I asked her what she recommends one do if they find themselves in this situation. She said that “if you are robbed you should just do what the robber asks you to do and don’t resist then call the police.” Regarding burglaries she advised “get to a secure location within your home, like a closet, and call the police, do not confront the burglar.”

In Sum

It is obviously very early into Inspector Brown’s tenure but I believe that Ward 4 is being served by a capable and experienced acting commander who will bring positive change to our ward. If anything needs to change I believe it is managing expectations. When we hear the Mayor and the Chief of Police tout the reemergence of community policing it would be in their best interests to explain to the residents that this change will not come over night. Additionally, it would be in their interests to explain the importance of officers in police cruisers that can respond to 911 and other calls. Having said that if we do not see a visible increase in foot patrols in the next 6 months I will be extremely disappointed and will feel like the Mayor and Chief have deceived us. I honestly believe that the right intentions exist but it is time to make them a reality. I have great confidence that Inspector Brown will help shepherd the necessary changes needed in Ward 4.

16 Comment

  • TheNeighbor

    Can she stay?

  • she’s 42?!

  • Interestingly, she didn’t mention more jobs, new rec centers, midnight basketball to stop this wave of crime. Why? She knows it doesn’t work. That’s political rhetoric. I’ve heard one too many criminals say that they have no qualms about doing a 18 month, 3,5 year prison bid. How can you overcome that mentality? You can’t easily reverse what is or is not in their head.

  • It’s sad that the best advice she can give regarding burglaries is to just cower in your closet.
    What is wrong with this city that citizens are stripeed of their right to protect their own house?
    The gov’t can’t just come into your house, there are constitutional protections you can use as a defense.
    But a burglar, forget it. Just give up. Very sad.

  • You might also want to do an interview with PSA 403’s Luitenant Kervin Johnson. He’s also new to our hood, no nonsense, and dedicated to tourning things around. I was very impressed when I met him recently.

    Meanwhile, I can say the light tower has calmed down our corner at 9th and Farragut, but the problem is very serious and I hope they catch the man they’re looking for before things get worse. I couldn’t feel better about the team assembled to attack this issue.

    And no, I do not work for the police and in fact have been a vocal critic over the years here in Petworth.

  • Thanks for the update -Prince… Funny, I was here during the height of the crack epidemic. Yet I think I am much frightened of this statistically “safer” city than I was then.
    Guess I was living through the last vestiges of my naive youth back in the day.

  • I had the pleasure of meeting Inspector Brown at an ANC 4 meeting a few weeks ago. She really does seem down to earth and seriously committed to making some changes around here. My wife and I were recently robbed at gunpoint IN FRONT OF OUR HOUSE a few months after moving in, so we’re incredibly concerned about tidying up our community. I’m ready to kick some ass. 🙂

  • Reporting crimes to the police is the most important thing the public can do, but I think direct resistance by both victims and bystanders would be a huge help in deterring crime. Do not “just do what the robber asks.” If a robber or burglar tries to take you to a second location, you should resist to the limit of your abilities — your life is at stake. Further, a small amount of resistance can often diffuse the situation.

    Two men with a gun attempted to rob me and my wife late at night about two blocks from our home (this happened five years ago and we’ve moved to Petworth since then). We were uncooperative, and kept the robbers talking until they fled the scene. We didn’t lose anything, except peace of mind about the safety of that area. More recently, three men attempted to rob a woman on her way home from the Petworth metro. She didn’t cooperate and the fled. She escaped with some bruises but no lost property. All three of us were lucky, but we also all had a hand in making good luck out of bad.

    Obviously, you have to use your own common sense and instincts in each situation.

  • @Nathan: Is it a surprise that she’s a lock-em up and throw away the key kinda person? She’s in law inforcement. Jail is not a deterrent to crime. And breeds more criminals. If it was, the U.S. with all its mandatory sentencing and largest percentage (and largest in numbers) prison population would be crime free. What works: jobs, healthcare, education. Midnight basketball and other youth activities is not enough, you are right, but it’s a lot better place for kids than jail. Unless your idea of quality youth development is criminal education.

  • Seriously though — 42?

    I hate to ask this dumb question, but what is a light tower? I ‘m guessing it’s portable lights to illuminate the street, but I didn’t want to assume.

  • The light towers are a waste of time, money, energy and CO2 emissions. Their sole purpose is to make it look like the police are actually doing something (when they are not). And they are annoying. Try having one of those lights shining through your bedroom window for 2 or 3 nights. Not fun.

  • I like the interview, Prince. These are helpful and I hope you’ll do more of them.

  • Kevin,
    We’ve had a total of 9 shots fired in a one block area since Halloween. Zero since the light tower went up 10 days ago. No people hanging out on street corners selling drugs, either.
    No one says they are a permanent fix. That’s not their purpose. They do however calm down a location that’s out of control.
    Consider too that vice work these areas. The lights help them see better into alleys and behind bushes. You may not notice the vice. You’re not supposed to.
    They may be annoying, but having 30 kids in your front yard on Halloween having to run inside and duck for cover because of gunfire is a little bit of a nuisance too.
    Perspective check please.

  • My perspective is the tower came about a month or so AFTER 3 people were were shot in the alley behind my house in 3 seperate shootings . Yes, each time it happened I pushed the dog off the bed and did the roll to the floor, myself. I know the drill. I been living with the idiots with guns for several years now. But by the time the tower came so much time had passed that people were asking “what’s this doing here?” So that’s my perspective last time I checked, Annony.

  • Linda Brown is my sister and I am so proud of her. I live in Tulsa Oklahoma and she is welcome to come and be our chief of police at any time. You go girl!..Lene

  • As a 4D officer, I can speak for many of the Officers here, and we are all very excited of the change. She is really refreshing, and yes she has a great sense of humor!!!
    Keep up the GREAT work!! I hope she can stay!

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