“Dear Mayor Bowser, Specify a plan for addressing gun violence in Brightwood/Petworth”

Photo by PoPville flickr user Phil

Ed. Note: You can add your name to this letter here.

“Dear Mayor Bowser,

In view of the recent shootings, we would be grateful if your office could share a specific plan for addressing gun crime in our neighborhood. A list of gun related crime in the Brightwood/Petworth neighborhood over the last three months is listed below—this list should be considered conservative rather than comprehensive since MPD does not alert citizens to many incidents of “shots fired”. I am certain you agree that this level of violence is unacceptable.
At the end of December, when you “toured” Ward 4, you promised additional resources would be coming to the neighborhood.

Have these resources been deployed? Can you provide us with more information on what these additional resources are? Do you think the existing strategy is working, and might you consider other options? Are as many MPD resources being dedicated to our Ward as possible? (Side note: there are routinely 3-5 squad cars being used to direct traffic in the Costco parking lot in NE. Surely these limited MPD resources could be better used elsewhere, even if not re-directed to Ward 4).

While your attention to the situation in December was appreciated, residents would feel more reassured by a precise strategy—not ambiguous letters to the neighborhood, “tours”, and calls for us residents to be “mindful of our surroundings”. One of the shootings last Thursday was in broad daylight at 2:30PM; what is the suggestion for being “mindful” of this kind of violence? In December you said that “no resident should expect to live in fear in Washington, DC”. You are right. We need more information from your office about the action plan for “stop[ping] violence before it starts”.

• March 16, 2015—Multiple shots fired, 3rd and Upshur, NW
• March 12, 2015—Shooting, 5300 Block of 4th Street, NW
• March 12, 2015—Shooting (Homicide), 8th and Jefferson, NW
• February 23, 2015—“Car shot up”, 400 Block of Kennedy, NW
• February 16, 2015—Multiple shots fired, Illinois and Farragut, NW
• January 25, 2015—Multiple shots fired, South of Petworth Metro Station, NW
• December 28, 2014—Multiple shots fired, 700 Block of Varnum St, NW
• December 26, 2014—Shooting, 13th and Gallatin, NW
• December 25, 2014—Shooting, 700 Block of Emerson
• December 24, 2014—Shooting (Homicide), 3900 Block of 14th St, NW
• December 23, 2014—Shooting (Homicide), 900 Block Delafield, NW
• December 23, 2014—Shooting, 9th and Jefferson NW
• December 18, 2014—Shooting, Georgia and Quincy, NW
• December 15, 2014—Multiple shots fired, 9th and Quincy, NW
• December 14, 2014—Shooting, 800 Block Emerson, NW
• December 14, 2014—Shooting, 4600 Block of 9th St, NW
• December 12, 2014—Shooting, Georgia Avenue and Park Rd, NW”

83 Comment

  • I’d like to hear from Brandon Todd on this too. If I’m even going to consider voting for Muriel Bowser’s protege I need to be convinced he won’t be as useless on this issue as she has been. I’ve definitely not heard anything to convince me so far.

    • Brandon Todd has been very vocal. Crime is one of his top issues. Have you not read the questionnaires? Or been to his website? In fact, I think he is the only reason the mayor even deployed more resources last time. But the fact is, until a new councilmember is elected, there is not much a “candidate” can do. Do we really want candidates taking advantage of the situation and doing more photo-ops and press conferences? Petworth NEEDS a councilmember. Way too much time has passed and we aren’t being represented.

      • Brandon spends his time at consituent meetings reading his BlackBerry, don’t expect much from him if elected to Council.

        Maybe a public demonstration to call for action? Unfortunately, it seems like this will continue to be status quo until something sensational happens.

      • VarnumGuy

        I’m on his website, and there isn’t anything there, really, except his face and a button to donate or volunteer. Is there some section I’m missing where he states is positions?

    • He’s gonna do exactly what Bowser did in her campaigns. Keep his mouth shut as much as possible, let the donations roll in, and try not to screw anything up.

      • It seems like all these candidates are usesless! Not a peep out of any of them!

        To the OP why 500 signatures? And thank you for putting it together.

  • Won’t her “plan” just be to put together a panel to study the issue?

    • …to put together a focus group to bring everyone to the table to include all stakeholders… etc. etc.

      • Accountering

        We just need to get all of the stakeholders together to form a committee to tackle this issue.

    • west_egg

      Oh please, give her a little more credit than that.
      In addition to the study, there will certainly be a study of the feasibility of the study; I’m sure she’ll bring everyone to the table for that. Everyone! And somewhere in there is bound to be a “top to bottom review.”

      • At the end of the study of the feasibility study of the review, her verdict will be: (drum roll…)
        Build more affordable housing!
        Brianne Nadeau will then sign on to have it all built in Columbia Heights!

  • Do people expect the Mayor to turn into Batman and develop super powers to know when and where a crime is going to be committed?

    • No, but maybe doing anything would be nice.

      • I’d even take Robin at this point. At least it’s something!

      • Why not share your solutions to the problem? What should be done?

        • Seems like finding these solutions should be part of the job of a mayor and police chief, no? I know nothing about how to reduce crime, which is why I’ve never run for elected office or worked in law enforcement.

    • This is HER former Ward and this s— has been getting worse for at least a year. Yes, I expect her to do something heroic about it immediately.

    • Yes, that’s exactly what they expect. Less than three months on the job, they want Bowser to wave a magic wand and make all the problems of yesteryear disappear.

      Newsflash to newcomers to Petworth: your neighborhood used to be one of the most violent in the city, and its crime has plummeted dramatically over the last 20 years. Bowser, like any other human, can’t be expected to solve a long term problem in 2 and 1/2 months.

      If you think policing is the problem, then where’s the criticism for Lanier? She’s been on the job for 7+ years and crime has gone up. Or do we have double standards here?

      • Yeah, I was going to say that violence in Petworth has been a problem for, oh, maybe 30 to 40 years? There are cyclical upward trends, but the best-fit-line indicates a steep long-term downward trend. This has not changed and won’t change in the next 10 to 20 years (barring a disaster of proportions we can’t imagine).
        Eventually, these clowns are getting priced out, put in jail, dying off, or “going straight.” It takes time. Petworth started from an extremely precious position so it has a lot of ground to make up.

        • Are you saying that because the neighborhood used to be more violent we should be okay with the policy just letting people sell drugs on our corner? That’s the most bizarre logic I’ve ever heard.
          There are open air drug markets and the mayor is taking flak because her answer is affordable housing. Why can’t they just arrest people selling drugs. It’s not so hard.

        • Crime is bad in PTW and I think most of us agree that bowser or her successor can’t/won’t do sh*t to fix the problem. I disagree though that it will take so long for market forces to prevail, as you alluded to. In the meantime, I’d recommend newcomers to remain vigilant–be aware of your surroundings, report suspicious activity, and strongly consider upgrading the security posture of your residence.

          • brookland_rez

            Things are certainly better than they were 11 years ago when I moved to DC. I feel safer now than ever. I know crime still happens, as evidenced on here. Petworth is still very much a transitioning area. Transitioning areas still have a higher rate of crime. But with each house that sells to someone of higher income, the more crime goes down.

  • I signed this, but have no faith that Bowser or Todd will do anything to address violence in Petworth.

  • I could kiss the person who wrote this letter. THANK YOU!
    Bowser seems to brush violence under the table. Or she’ll do a temp fix, photo-op and then disappear. Ward 4 is being ignored. A change in tactics and (perhaps) MPD leadership needs to happen. There is a very serious issue going on and MPD has made ONE arrest.
    I hope the media gets a hold of this. Crime is the top issue my neighbors are talking about! It’ll have an impact on the ward 4 election. Bowser has done nothing. Why would her people be different?

  • And I wouldn’t stop at guns. Guns are bad, but so are the break-ins, drugs, robberies, assaults…. It’s ALL bad. Not just guns. And no progress. It’s not getting better.

  • I’d suggest removing the comment about Costco, as it’s likely they pay off-duty officers to specifically be there during certain times. It takes away from the central argument, which is a strong one.

    • Thanks, Mike. I put it there to express my frustration about the argument that there are no additional resources available for the neighborhood. That was the message in December, a clear: there are no additional squad cars available. I may be misunderstanding what you are saying, but, IF what you are saying is that MPD officers, in uniform, and using MPD squad cars, are directing traffic in a private parking lot while off duty for extra money …I’d venture to say that they shouldn’t be. There are private companies that can and should handle that kind of thing.

      • It’s very common for private companies to hire off duty police officers. I have a friend who did it a lot with FFX County Police. They’re off duty so they wouldn’t be working their regular shift anyway, thus not taking away from resources. I could be wrong, but that’s how I understand it.

        • I understand that…and that makes sense. Obviously police officers can do whatever they want in their free time. I find it questionable that they can do whatever they want in uniform but, more to the point, that MPD squad cars are being used to do what traffic cones could do WHILE WE ARE SIMULATAENOUSLY BEING SENT THE MESSAGE that there are not enough squad cars available to police our neighborhood. That’s not acceptable to me.

          • I think when MPD says “not enough squad cars” they mean “not enough on-duty officers in squad cars”. It’s not like there are a bunch of on-duty officers at the station who’d be out there patrolling if only all the police cars weren’t sitting in the Costco lot. I get where you’re going with this; deployment of resources is one of the issues here. But I’m in agreement with Mike that questioning the specific deployment of these two cars or those two officers distract us from the bigger picture here; moving several police cars from Costco to Petworth isn’t going to fix the crime problem. BTW, don’t get me wrong, I applaud your effort and will sign the petition.

        • That, or Costco is paying the city for a detail. (Does DC do that? I know it’s common elsewhere.) It would seem to make more sense as there aren’t just cops present (like in bars), but city vehicles as well which have their own operating costs. Either way, I agree that it probably doesn’t bolster the overall argument.

          • Since all the comments on this sentence indicate it isn’t useful for the argument, I’ve removed it from the letter on the link. Thanks for the feedback.

          • So it sounds like if police are performing security detail off duty, they shouldn’t be using city resources (e.g. squad cars, etc.). If its the city being paid by private companies to use their resources (police officers, squad cars, etc.), then that would be sending a message that Costco’s private parking traffic issue is more “important” (I think lucrative might actually be the better word here) to address then the crime in our neighborhoods. The point seems to be that resources are not being used appropriately, and the Costco situation being a visual indicator.

    • tonyr

      Yes – the O St Giant also has armed, uniformed MPD personnel providing security. I assume that they pay for that, like clubs do.

    • I agree with you Mike. Those are off-duty officers who are paid to direct traffic. There are usually no more than 2 police vehicles not 3-5 vehicles. At first it was the employees directing traffic, then a private firm, now off duty MPD.

  • theoutregirl

    I live here, less than a block from one of the most recent homicides and I really love our neighborhood. Thank you for putting this together. I don’t know much about Brandon Todd (or if we even have other options) but someone needs to advocate for the people who live in this area.

  • I love just across Kennedy St. from the recent homicide at 8th and Jefferson. My neighbors and I are very concerned with this recent string of violence. MPD has been around more, for sure, but it still is not enough. Maybe I am just cynical at this point, but the Mayor didn’t do anything to stop the crime when she was Ward 4’s councilmember…. I have about zero faith that she will do something about it now that she is not our councilmember. I really want to love this neighborhood, there are so many great things about it, but this violence and gang/drug activity needs to stop first.

    • This may or may not be a Bowser-thing. I can’t say she has been all that effective with crime, but I do believe she cares. This is a strategic and tactical issue. What MPD is doing is not effective. It’s not working. They aren’t closing cases. They aren’t making arrests. The drug dealers and gang member remain on the street. The same trouble corners and houses remain problems. People continually get robbed along the same streets. The Petworth metro is a major problem. Instead of repeating the same ineffective strategies, do something different!

      • I agree with you that whatever MPD is doing is not effective, and is not changing what is going on on the streets. I do think though, that city council/the mayor can pressure MPD to change their strategies. That is the point of having representatives, right? We bug them, the represent us…. for a long time, that hasn’t been happening and the residents are stuck with the status quo….which is nothing.

  • I would like the city to also release a “comprehensive” list of all the shootings they know about in the Brightwood/Petworth area, how many other shootings have there been that they haven’t alerted the public to?

    • Easily obtained…you have to call Diane Groomes (Assistant Chief) and ask who would be the best person to ask for ShotSpotter reports…this will add quite a bit.

      • It’s too bad you can’t see “shootings” on the DC MPD website. The only options are homicide, rape, robbert, assault, burglary, theft, stolen auto, and arson. Even if no one was hurt, it’s still a statistic that I think the city should report.

      • MPD released the shot spotter data about a year ago, but have not updated it since. Is there any chance they would release up to date shot spotter info?

    • brookland_rez


  • But don’t you understand yuppies? This was before she “took office” so #notherproblem…

    Same thing happened in Shaw when Fenty was elected and it took ALOT to move the former Mayor to do anything. Basically was a daily shaming of Jack Evans that finally flipped it…she was the Ward 4 CM so this is on her no matter what.

  • “When she toured Ward 4”? Really? SHE REPRESENTED IT FOR THE LAST 7 YEARS!!! She still lives there…

  • While providing letters to Bowser will illustrate the frustration and fear residents have in the neighborhood, we will most likely be given the same lip service, an increase in police activity for a couple days, some new spot lights here or there, but that is it. As a community, I see our only option is to provide tangible, creative and innovative ideas to the mayor, her staff and the DCPD to curb gun violence (and other violence). I’m not sure what these ideas are, but if the community stands behind some innovative ways to end violence, the mayor might finally listen.

    • Here’s an idea: How about they stop people openly selling drugs on the street? That seems like an easy place to start.

    • Policing and politics aren’t going to change the thug and gun culture of some youth and nearly all DC street crews! The community needs to rise up and not tolerate it anymore, but how that can be done when they have guns and we don’t is the question. I am not going to hunt down these violent crew members in an attempt to take them down! I suppose though we could establish a network of neighborhood watchers complete with hidden cameras to gather on the ground intelligence to make our case to MPD about who exactly the repeat perps are. Many live among us, right?

      • It doesn’t need to be an established network. When people have information, or see things happening, they need to call 911 and let MPD know, so they can investigate. I do agree, though, the neighbor needs to step up and say that we are not going to tolerate it (obviously, without putting ourselves in danger).

      • I went to a neighborhood watch training session last night. One of the things that came up was that if you see or suspect illegal activity, you should report the areas/houses/etc. to the lieutenant for your PSA (Police Service Area).
        The thing I find discouraging, though, is that it seems that in many cases, the police already know where and who the problems are. I know it takes time to gather evidence and build a decent case, but I can’t help but feel that the evidence-gathering and case-building would be much quicker if the drug houses were in, say, Georgetown.

      • Oh jesus, come on. We’re talking about in international crime ring here. It’s a bunch of idiot teenagers selling drugs and carrying guns around in plain sight. It should not be that hard to arrest them. You should not need a trained network of informants to catch kids who practically have billboards advertising their business.

        • it’s not an international crime ring, but you can be assured that up the chain, there are people making a lot of money from these operations, and they’ll do everything in their power to make sure they continue. Go to the PSA – the cops will be happy to explain to you how challenging it is to get charges that stick that the DA is willing to prosecute. it’s enlightening and disheartening.

  • I “get” the Bowser pile-on, but where is the ANC??? Bowser isn’t the only silent elected representative. No one is doing anything.

    • There is an ANC meeting tonight, and MPD 4D commander, and several lieutenants will be in attendance. Not totally sure what will come of this, but it is at least some sort of effort, I suppose.

      • I’ve only been to one of these types of meetings, pre-Mayor Bowser. She showed up 30 minutes late, interrupted the commander, had nothing of value to add and we essentially got nothing out of it. The commander did, however, give us a little scoop on their areas of focus before Bowser came in. But nothing all too substantial. I will say, however, emailing the commander directly and having one on one conversations with the neighborhood lieutenants did work for me on multiple occasions. If we need to get something done, unfortunately, we’re going to have to do it ourselves.

        • I wonder if I went to the same one or if that was her performance at all meetings because that is exactly how I would summarize the one meeting I went to in 2013.

          • Doesn’t sound like it was. The meeting I attended was in 2012 after the murder at 5th and Nicholson. From what I’ve read, that was her MO.

    • This isn’t Bowser pile-on, but unfortunately, this was the truth when I lived in Riggs years ago and we had a spate of violent crime:

      She was an ANC and there was an uptick in her own community, but she wouldn’t even respond to her SMD constituents who wanted her support for discussion on crime fighting strategy. We appealed to other commissioners for help. She turned the same ole deaf ear when she became CM, UNLESS the concern came from constituents in SH Park, Colonial Village, and N. Portal Estates. When her mentor served Ward 4, he brought in a task force and had MPD offering officers on horseback to patrol after a drug-related homicide occurred too close to SH Park, circa Thanksgiving 2003. I am unaware of her pressing for that type of deployment in the west of GA communities, but she did in fact monitor those listserves and QUICKLY responded to them about any type of public safety concern they raised.

      Brightwood and Petworth have always been vocal and deserve the same manner of attentiveness to these very serious, longstanding problems. In contrast, when she has called special meetings for other communities, it has usually been after much criticism, and then she begrudgingly made an obligatory appearance. I attended one in Brightwood on a Saturday, and she seemed irritated to be there. So, don’t expect much else from her now that she has moved up in rank. BUT, that shouldn’t stop the community from pressing forward these concerns to the many candidates who want our votes and claim they will work for us.

  • Just curious: will you be writing her a public letter of thanks when crime dips below average again, as it certainly will?

    This is cyclical and has been for many years, longer than 90 percent of the commenters here have lived in DC, I’d wager. It sucks, certainly, but it’s cyclical.

    • No. For the same reason I don’t write a letter to United when they do *not* lose my bags … people usually don’t write letters when they are receiving services they are happy with.

    • its cyclical to have 11 shootings in a 14 day period in December? Even if it is, is that a reason to not try and get our elected officials to do something about it?

    • So is your point that violence happens in the neighborhood, but it will go away eventually at least for a little while so don’t bother saying or doing something about it? And I for one will happily write her a letter of thanks if crime dips due to police action, not because it happens to be a in a less violent part of the cycle. It’s MPD’s job to break the cycle.

    • Yes it’s cyclical. When it becomes below freezing and nobody wants to be outside, the crime dips. When it’s above freezing, crime in the area seems to skyrocket. So for 2 months a year, there is a big drop off in crime which usually results in people thinking whatever strategy was employed worked…..only to realize it hasn’t and the same cyclical cycle goes on….

    • If crime goes down, my letter of thanks will be to vote and campaign for her in the next election. That’s how this stuff works.

  • I don’t think the point is to attack Mayor Bowser, which is why I signed the petition attached to this letter. Our kids should be able to play in the yard at 2:30 in the afternoon and not fear getting shot. I’ve been a DC resident for 14 years, and lived in Petworth for 4 of those years. In general, this activity is cyclical. However, there has been a considerable uptick in the 4-or 5-block radius of Jefferson & 8th.

    A few years back, there was drug activity across the street from our house by a group of squatters. Lights were brought in, several raids, and now the activity has stopped. There needs to be similar, swift action now.

  • Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier testified before the D.C. Council Judiciary Committee last week stating, MPD has a crisis with a shortage of police officers. Since MPD has a shortage of police officers, how will they be able to address gun violence and other crimes in Petworth/Brightwood neighborhoods. I agree with others, Mayor Muriel Bowser isn’t superwoman and there’s only so much that she or the D.C. Council can do to address crime.

  • I’d encourage those concerned to get to know the police officers on their beat (really, they do exist and they tend to be the same folks) and learn a bit about the nature of some of these problems.

    It’s easy to say “well the police and the mayor just don’t care–there is drug dealing in plain sight.” Ok, sure. But what happens when you arrest street level dealers? If you can get the DA to prosecute you may not find a jury that will convict. I’ve been on two PWID juries in DC that ended up hung. These were minor, low-level dealers or more accurately addicts being used by dealers. Do you know how much money it costs to prosecute these people that juries won’t convict? That’s why the police want to go after the high level distributors and I agree 100% with that approach as a taxpayer–even though I dislike seeing dealers out and about.

    I’ve lived in Petworth for a long time and I feel much safer today than I did when I first moved in, and more safe today than I did 5 years ago.

  • If the police can run a special “covert operation” in Logan Circle, they can certainly do the same in ward 4.

  • Just curious if folks think Park View should be flagged as well? Not to get into the neighborhood borders debate, but it seems like some of this violence has definitely been well below the Petworth metro area and into Park View proper. Thank you for writing this! I’ll definitely sign.

  • +6, from six of us in the neighborhood

  • For those residents that did not attend but may be concerned about this topic-The Petworth News guy attended the meeting and posted his notes on the meeting. It was notable that NOT one of the candidates that is running to represent Ward 4 was in attendance. In fact the only council person that showed up was Ms. Anita Bonds. Think about this when you cast your vote on who is going to represent Ward 4 and if they are going to represent all of ward 4.

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