Sensing the Frustration From Both Sides – Plus Requesting Reader Questions for the Mayoral Candidates?

Photo by PoPville flickr user dullshick

On the MPD-4D listserv a resident writes about a situation at 7th and Kennedy Streets, NW:

“I wanted to let you know that this activity is only getting worse. 7 people basically sitting on my lawn distributing money at the end of a hard day’s work dealing all around the street and neighborhood.

I call 911, but all the police ever really do is drive my them slowly. These people aren’t intimidated by that and they wont’ move. Basically the front of my house is a drug dealer office from about 7:30 pm to well past midnight – unless MPD cars are literally parked on the street. I can’t do anything about this without risking the safety of myself or my family.

Getting pretty frustrated.”

After a few more messages back and forth from residents and Captain Anderson, Capt. Anderson writes:

“We do have a system that also documents by officers run log for assignments. So our patrol officers are out of the scout car walking as well, from time to time during their tour in this area. This is along with the assigned foot patrol officers. So every level is performing policing as was noted by some citizens. They see the officers and acknowledge that we are locking lots of these guys back out there. So let’s be clear we are out with a presence and lock up perpetrators of crimes. The cat and mouse game is what I’m told frustrates citizens NOT the lack of policing at any level.

Last, I will ensure this presence continues after 730pm . Thanks to all who commented.”

I think this is a great example of how difficult this problem is in many of our neighborhoods. While I am a huge supporter of more visible foot patrols by MPD, it does make me realize that it looks like policing alone will not solve this problem. I feel bad for the resident and the Captain. You can’t blame either of them for feeling frustrated.

At the suggestion of a reader I have the opportunity to gather some reader submitted questions to pose to the mayoral candidates (via email) – current Council Chairman Vince Gray and current Mayor Adrian Fenty. So if you’d like to know what the candidates would recommend to resolve this situation or any other questions please place them in the comments and I will select five to be answered by the candidates.

59 Comment

  • Here’s a question for the mayoral candidates: the epidemic of juvenile crime and violence has continued unabated in the District. It is extremely frustrating for law-abiding residents to see young people breaking the law repeatedly, and being released, or escaping from poorly-guarded detention facilities, with barely a slap on the wrist to show for it, and a clean record and anonymity preserved as well. What do you plan to do to address juvenile crime and violence, both from the law enforcement perspective, and getting at the root causes as well?

    • Remove Mendolson from office. He is the architect and chief proponent of the DYRS situation.

    • breaking the law> how about……”to see children in this city persistently involved with crimes involving guns and ammunition…many apparently have lengthy criminal records that are kept secret from the at-risk public….

      …the captain’s response only portrays the fact that the police are co-conspirators in this horrible mess. Just ask the old Oak St gang…

      • The police are “co-conspirators” because that’s the LAW which they are required to uphold. It was passed by YOUR DC City council: Gray, Kwame, Wells, Mendolson, Graham, etc. They all support it.

        They support it because that’s what the poor folks want: to be able to rob people when they’re young, and have no repercussions as adults (criminal record). It’s a catastrophe because it sets in place habits that become difficult to break –dependency on easy money, anti-social behavior, normalcy of violence, and inattention to developing useful job skills.

    • I would also include “creating stiffer penalties for juvenilles”.

  • Here’s a question, can anyone point to a situation where a mayor actually changed things in a city?

    • Many mayors have done great things. Why don’t you like Mayor Lindsay? Let’s start with him.

    • I think I’ve seen some of the most impressive school building infrastructure upgrades and test score upgrades in this city.

    • cory booker ( future us president).

      also in dc.
      tony williams drastically changed the finances and image if dc.

  • to the guy whose house is drug dealer central.

    call the FBI and DEA and tell them there are people in out of state cars coming in and you think it’s an interstate operation. It probably is, going out to PG County, but don’t let your slight understanding of the facts get in the way of this.

    Take pictures and send Jim Graham the pictures.

    Find the drug gang’s myspace and facebook accounts and print out and send these pages to everyone you know, post them on lamp posts, bring them to ANC meetings. Before anyone laughs I promise you that the moment the dealer walked down my street and he saw his myspace page posted up on every tree he looked like he was about to sh*t bricks and ran to every tree to rip them down. All that mattered was he knew that we all knew.

    be creative, otherwise they will kill you and you will be dead.

  • Dear candidates,
    Both of you have been victims crime recently with break-ins on your property. This happened despite you having 24/7 armed security from MPD. Given that the two of you are not even safe in your own homes despite being constantly guarded, why are you continually insistent that citizens not have the ability to defend themselves?

    • You’re not making any sense.
      let’s say you have a gun and three guys are dealing on your lawn. What are you going to do? Go outside and tell them to move and if they don’t you’ll shoot them?

      • that’s the general idea

      • Ummm, yes. Because the drive by that occurs when they piss off their supplier is going into your window and your childs brain.

        I have the bullet marks on my house to prove that it’s not a fantasy.

        • What’s the answer otherwise? As we’ve seen from this post and others, the cops don’t give a shit.

          Or we could legalize and take the dealers out of the equation entirely, but that would make too much sense.

  • Over the past several years, Washington DC has made gigantic strides toward a sustained urban renewal. Fostering economic development and property investment by first time homebuyers in a broad swath of neighborhoods across the city has been key to this. While this will remain important to continuing the renewal, building out transportation options will be the next hurdle. Additionally, smart development of affordable housing is critical to ensuring a vibrant and diverse city and other social services, while few welcome them, are critical to the operation of any urban area.

    With that, I ask you both, what will you do to continue to foster this urban renewal? How will you prioritize mass transit? How will you provide adequate mixed income housing and adequate social services that do not warehouse the vulnerable but integrate them throughout the city?

  • We have had persistent problems in our alleyway including drug dealing, shootings, prostitution, illegal dumping, etc., etc., etc. I recently emailed Bowser, Lanier and Fenty to see if we could discuss new, perhaps innovative ideas to address the problems in the alley given that current approaches are simply ineffective.

    Bowser didn’t respond directly, but her office provided the following, “thank you for writing to Councilmember Bowser about this important matter. Our office will continue to work with MPD, DCRA and, DPW to ensure that property owners are maintaining their property and that public space concerns are addressed. Robert Idlett with work with the aforementioned agencies and follow-up with you.” Not only is this effectively a refusal to meet, but it firmly champions the ineffective status quo. Why are DC politicians so insistent on maintaining the status quo, even to the detriment of the city and its citizens. Worse still, why the heck do we continue to vote for them?

    Lanier’s response was slightly more promising, although it still emphasizes current efforts. Currents efforts are wholly ineffective. I have seen absolutely no improvements in my alleyway in the 2+ years we’ve lived there, a clear indicator to me of a lack of progress. Lanier wrote, “I agree that there is much work to do and I am more than happy to engage our team in a meeting to discuss how we can fix problems in your neighborhood. As a resident of the District of Columbia you deserve nothing less than the very best. That is not to say we are not already working on your problems, but that there is always room for improvement. As far as your issues with our response today Captain Hill will look into this and get an answer to you today or tomorrow. Lastly, the Fourth District will work with Mayor Fenty’s Office of Community Relations and Services to get the refuse removed.” She has offered me a meeting with the district commander.

    Needless to say, the Mayor simply ignored my plea for help, obviously too busy telling others of his great accomplishments to actually accomplish anything real.

    To Captain Anderson, all I can say is that you’re wrong. Your officers do shirk their responsibilities and fail to get out of their vehicles, even for serious reports. Over a year ago we reports shots fired, we witnessed the shooters run through our alley with guns. Officers responded promptly, but never even got out of the vehicle. When officers returned later in the day, they discovered a gun shot victim, alive, but nonetheless. To be frank, it will take a lot for MPD to overcome that experience in my mind.

    We need to send a message to the City Council, the Mayor’s office and MPD that their policies, procedures, and tactics simply don’t work. This is not to say that they’ve accomplished nothing, Lanier and her team have many great accomplishments, but it is insufficient. We need to collectively take back our communities, both from the thugs and the politicians. This can’t continue. We need to promote new, innovate ideas, ideas that not only keep the criminal element on the run, but deny them a place to land/rest. It isn’t so much about cleaning up trash today or about getting rid of the drug dealers today, it’s about making it so they don’t/can’t come back again. Otherwise we’re all just spinning our wheels. Of course I don’t believe this can be accomplished over night, not at all, but we are clearly on a path to no where, with no likelihood over ever accomplishing this or anything remotely similar.

    • I had the same situation as the OP and this poster, with an obvious drug gang working out of the front porch next to mine for over a year. I would call or text MPD almost every night, sometimes multiple times per night. I can count on one hand the number of times an officer actually got out of his/her car to ask these guys what was going on. In one case, an officer got out of his car, gave one of the guys on the porch a hug, chatted for a minute, and then left. How safe does that make you feel? For what it’s worth, I found the new 4D command to be more responsive than Lt. Parker was. On my block it took about a year and an half of calling almost every day, working with neighbors and the homeowner, and letting the guys know I was never going away, plus finally some good luck in one of the guys moving away. Best of luck to both of you.

    • That’s interesting, because 1D is fantastic. My neighbor started having folks hang out on her back porch when she wasn’t home and we called the cops. Within 45 seconds we had three cruisers and 5 officers. They cuffed the guy searched him and then released him (no contraband, but obviously was trespassing).

      We have extremely proactive policing, so if you have a problem it is not systemic, it’s a direct result of your district Captain/Lieutenant. THAT is where you need to focus your energy, not the Mayor’s office.

      I suggest you learn how to manage a big city bureaucracy. Sending emails to every city official possible and expecting an email back is immature. Why would the mayor need to respond directly when Lanier responded? That’s who the mayor hired to deal with this set of issues.

      • I have to agree. Commander Kamperin and the rest of 1D is normally incredibly responsive and take care of residents concerns quickly. I have a feeling that the OP would have gotten more than a half assed response from other Police Officials in other parts of the city.

    • well I met with Jim Graham about my issue so #1 Bowser sucks.

  • PoP you know I love you but I wish you would separate out posts like these two… they are both very interesting and significant issues and combining the comments usually means that one discussion will bite the dust before it even gets started!

  • Having patrol officers driveby or walk by is a joke. To take these guys down, the gangs need to be infiltrated. This is what the Vice squad is SUPPOSED to do. I have a guy who deals heroin in my neighborhood. He has regulars that drive by and pick up. I have provided the make, model and license plate number of the cars. They do NOTHING. The uniformed cops say they never see him making a deal, so they can’t do anything. In this regard MPD is a freaking joke.

    • Vice isn’t an overnight operation. Didn’t the MPD just take down a few dozen folks last summer with a big sting?

  • Ask the candidates why that police captain can’t write proper English. If they are checking the “system that also documents by officers run log for assignments” I can understand why nothing is getting done.

    • I knew my police lieutenant and can explain this. I met with many of his officers. They were DCPS graduates and were not readers.

      In this town if you can write you can get a good government job behind a desk, everyone else cannot write.

      • Which is why we need stricter education standards in this city instead of 30 years of “it’s good enough”. Because if you’re anti- “gentrification” you’re finding out that it’s not “good enough”.

  • Here is a question.

    Within the last few months (maybe a year) my street was “beautified” by replacing our concrete sidewalks with brick. It was a noisy, messy project but it finished on time and looks great. The problem? The city is now getting ready to tear up the brand new brick to do a long-planned water pipe replacement project. What can be done to promote better coordination among these types of projects so that we aren’t doing double work at double cost and double hassle?

    • +1, and ask the same question with regard to 14th and Irving.

    • Get used to it. This is not unique to DC except that our infrastructure was neglected for so many years that it’s all coming to a head at once.

  • You can stop gentrification by starting ghettification, but who in their right mind would do that. The city already has rent control and property tax caps to reduce the burden of inflation. If you want more assistance for the people in poverty, you need gentrification to pay for it. What have Williams & Fenty done to push “the poor” out of the city? Allowed developers to construct buildings (jobs) that increase land values and generate property taxes to pay for government services for “the poor”?

    • there is a whole great big area between “gentrification” and “ghettification”.

      • I don’t believe there is.

        • then get out more. and think more deeply on issues. you’ll find that extremism is not always the way of things.

        • Agreed. With DC’s poor, it’s always a zero sum game. That’s why they don’t like Fenty doing anything for Ward 3; they assume that every dollar spent there is coming out of something for Ward 8.

          The only gentrification problem is that the grandkids of the generation that ruled DC for 30 years don’t have the education to move into the neighborhood where they grew up. Life’s tough that way.

      • Well there is a whole great area between the government is pushing people out and people are allowing themselves to be pushed out too. It’s easier to blame the government for pushing out poverty than it is to ask how can I help myself. Some people have a choice others choose excuses.

  • you want to stop people in poverty from being forced out? help get them out of poverty.
    that is the only viable way.

  • Stay in school and work hard at it; stay out of trouble with the law; stay off of drugs; respect your elders and your neighbors and their property; don’t badmouth your employer, your friends or people you don’t know. Learn as much as you can in every job you do, and try continually take on more responsibility. When you’ve reached a point in your career when you’re not learning anything new, go find another job or another career.

  • 1. The Fenty administration delayed inclusionary zoning rules for years, causing the loss of at least 140 units of affordable housing: See,
    To Fenty: why did it take so long for you to do this? What is the current status of IZ and how are you enforcing it?
    To Gray: What are your thoughts on inclusionary zoning? If elected, how will your management of IZ differ from Fenty’s?

    2. The Council replaced the vacant property tax with a blighted property tax. Do you think this was a good idea? Would you make any changes to the program, including but not limited to houw properties are added or taken off the list? How many buildings are listed as blighted versus the number listed as vacant, and has the amount of revenue taken in changed?

    • Why is there no inclusionary zoning in Ward 3 and in Georgetown. Everytime someone tries to build market price housing in my neighborhood they have to include low-income housing too. This neighobrhood is already home to many large low-income housing projects. This means the schools and services in our neighborhood are already burdened with children who need remedial help, ESL, etc. Thus, our schools are short changing the poor kids and the middle class kids. Why not require low income housing to be built in neighborhoods where the schools are not already overburdened with low incoming children. It would help the low income kids, and should do no harm to the Georgetowners and Woodley Parkers. (I assume it will do no harm, b/c obviously no one things inclusionary zoning is harming my neighborhood, so why would it harm richer neighborhoods?)

  • I’d ask — do you think the city is potentially liable for wrongful death suits given its continuing failure to properly manage violent juvenile offenders?

    Will you make it a top priority to a) amend laws related to children involved with gun violence and b) weed out and eliminate corrupt police officers who tolerate gang trade and violence?

  • You are an idiot and a criminal. We’re not “snitchin””, we’re policing our neighborhoods you thug.

    That’s not gentrification, that’s trash pickup.

  • Repealing DC’s gun ban might do it. Shoot the little jerks and see how quickly this abates. They can’t shoot straight anyway. AND then move low income housing to Georgetown.

  • Today marks the 3rd time I as a white person in Petworth (person of non color?) had to deal with a racist attack on my soul. Something along the lines of get to the back of the bus (with nearby ladies of color snickering as they listed to the rant of the man in color). So my question to the mayoral candidates is: “do you think there is any legalized or community-sanctioned racism occuring in Washington DC, particularly black on white, and if so, what would you do about it as Mayor”

  • So what do you do with all the fallible, stumbling, mostly kinda stupid humans? I actually agree with your principles and often want to slap the whole “ghetto” upside the head, but just don’t think that’s gonna work.

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