Community

Troublesome D.C. Neighborhoods Captured on Candid Camera

New Command Center Provides 24-Hour Monitoring of Public Housing Crime Hot Spots

Neighborhoods in the District are expected to get safer and cleaner with the installment of a new Command and Customer Solutions Center located in DCHA headquarters in Northeast.

District of Columbia Housing Authority Executive Director Tyrone Garrett unveiled the new hardware May 11 in a ceremony that included Joel Maupi, chief of the District’s office of public safety chief, and Metropolitan Police Department Assistant Chief Ashan Benedict.

“We can use this technology and the information it provides to better allocate our patrols while we are out in the communities,” Maupin said. “In March and in April, we were able to make multiple arrests, remove some 15 firearms and related ammunition, and assist the U.S. marshals service in arresting a wanted felon.

“We also regularly work alongside MPD to patrol and assist in their investigations. This technology is an added crime-fighting element that will help keep the entire District safer.”

The District of Columbia Housing Authority provides subsidized housing to approximately 50,000 residents, including low- and moderate-income households.

With the new hardware, DCHA can now use state-of-the-art technology to enable what housing and police officials characterize as “smart policing.” With closed-circuit cameras hot spots of crime and disorder can be monitored and, using geotracking through what they label the Automated Workforce Deployment System can pinpoint the most frequently reported trouble spots.

So far, they noted, the system is producing results. In March, these tactics led to 47 arrests on 113 charges, and 31 arrests on 61 charges in April.

The new command center features a console controlling 12 55-inch monitors streaming images from 650 cameras. The result is high-definition surveillance of areas that have been reported to be high crime areas.

Staff stationed at headquarters can view suspicious activity such as loitering or street gambling can alert MPD and Housing Police.

“This system was designed on our properties to help reduce any type of violence, ” Maupin said. “What we find is a lot of loitering of people who do not live on the property. Dice games or things of that nature a lot of times precede violence. We are now able to see the activity dispatch an offer to break up that game before someone gets robbed or gets shot.”

Through a DCHA process, individuals identified as troublesome can be arrested and banned from the area. In March, OPS issued 53 bar notices and 42 in April.

The Office of Public Safety covers the properties identified as hot spots using the Workforce Deployment Tool, officials said. Workforce deployment tool registering an average of more than 6,150 touches in both March and April.

“We use it for the office of public safety to patrol areas where crime stats have been determined and residents’ complaints” show problems, said Edwards, architect of the surveillance system. “The aunts and uncles and the grandmothers and grandfathers that live in these communities have a right to be protected and feel safe.”

“The health and safety of our customers and employees are paramount to this organization,” Garrett said. “The technology in this new command center helps catapult our police force into the future. And the new office space surrounding it, including the customer solution center, was completed with help from members of our modified apprenticeship training program, who are learning job skills while earning a paycheck.“

The customer solution center is open Tuesdays through Thursdays, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Appointments can be scheduled by calling 202-535-1000.

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