Members of the DC Metropolitan Police Department bicycle unit ride up 15th Street Northwest to greet the protesters carrying a 50-foot inflated marijuana joint down the street. /Photo by Nancy Shia @nancy_shia
**FILE** Members of the DC Metropolitan Police Department's bicycle unit (Nancy Shia/The Washington Informer)

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser and Metropolitan Police Chief Peter Newsham launched last month the District’s Summer Crime Initiative, the city’s coordinated effort to reduce crime through strategic prevention and focused enforcement in high-crime areas.

Each year, since 2010, the police department has identified five to six target neighborhoods that have experienced a high density of violence. In those areas, they use all available resources including collaborative outreach to prevent crime in the area during the summer months.

“We know that crime and violence prevention is about more than just policing,” Bowser said. “The Summer Crime Prevention Initiative builds safer, stronger neighborhoods by expanding access to opportunities that keep our young people safe and engaged, connecting residents to employment opportunities, and ensuring more neighborhoods get the attention and supports they need to thrive.”

The initiative, which runs from May 1 to Aug. 31, aims to reduce violent crime, remove illegal guns from neighborhoods and hold repeat offenders accountable.

This year, MPD will implement the plan in the selected Police Service Areas of in Wards 5, 6 and 7. The selected areas cover the neighborhoods of Langston Carver, Trinidad, Grant Park NE Boundary, Greenway, Greater Anacostia, Woodland, Congress Heights, Douglass, Shipley and Washington Highlands.

Council member Kenyan McDuffie (D-Ward 5) said he would like to see more neighborhoods in his ward included in the plan. Last year, the program only included just one service area in Ward 5 in the Carver Terrace and Langston Terrace communities.

“I am heartened that this year the program is expanded to include Trinidad at the onset,” McDuffie said. “However, I remain concerned about other areas of Ward 5, and have followed up with the police chief to request those same areas be addressed.”

Last year, he requested the Hanover, Truxton, Brentwood Road, Saratoga and Montana neighborhoods be included in the plan, as well as a playground at Taft Junior High School. This year, he made the same request, sending a letter to Newsham and the city deputy mayor on public safety requesting that the additional areas be included in the current plan.

“Over the course of the past 10 years, the efforts of MPD and our partner agencies during the Summer Crime Initiative have greatly contributed to the steady decrease in violent crime across the District,” Newsham said of the reprogram. “Our goal is to build upon the successes of the past Summer Crime Initiatives and develop thriving relationships with community members in these areas.”

Newsham said that support in the form of city services looks different depending on a neighborhood’s needs.

For instance, some neighborhoods want programs that can create jobs in the community while others are looking for summer activities for kids or resources for substance abuse and mental health treatment.

Newsham said statistics have shown the Summer Crime Initiative works, driving down crime in the target areas.

After the program last year, homicides decreased by 25 percent in targeted areas. Robberies decreased by 32 percent, assault with a deadly weapon decreased by 46 percent and burglaries decreased by 17 percent. Violent crime in target neighborhoods decreased by 38 percent and overall crime decreased by 12 percent.

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Tatyana Hopkins – Washington Informer Contributing Writer

Tatyana Hopkins has always wanted to make the world a better place. Growing up she knew she wanted to be a journalist. To her there were too many issues in the world to pick a career that would force her...

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