Public Safety Crisis?

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Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC 6A) met via Zoom on May 11. Commissioners Keya Chatterjee (6A01, vice chair), Mike Velasquez (6A02), Roberta Shapiro (6A03), Amber Gove (6A04, chair), Laura Gentile (6A05), Robb Dooling (6A06) and Steve Moilanen (6A07) were present.

Ninth Street NE resident Paul Rodriguez helped a neighbor extract a bullet from their child’s car seat. Next door, a family’s car was stolen. His other immediate neighbor was carjacked.

Rodriguez remains shaken.

Another resident testifying at the ANC 6A meeting was Emily, who is also concerned about recent carjackings and property damage adjacent to her home. Her exterior cameras have recorded many of these crimes and she has shared the footage with law enforcement. Encouraging her to be increasingly cognizant of her surroundings, police tell her their “hands are tied.”

Neighbor Ian Staples echoed Emily’s comment about officers’ dismissive attitude. How should community members most effectively work with the District’s agencies to mitigate crime, he asked the commission.

“I spend hours every month trying to resolve small issues with the DC government only to be told ‘not my job,’” Staples said. “What can we do to activate agencies, including MPD, to help address dangerous behavior and drug dealing before it becomes a violent crime?”

H Street’s diverse set of activities, restaurants and tight-knit community with “neighbors who really look out for each other” make it a great place to live, but emphasized that it doesn’t make the violence any less scary for its residents, Vice Chair Chatterjee said.

Chatterjee highlighted the importance of community involvement and investment in mentorship programs and other social services aimed at addressing the root issues of violence and mitigating its impact on the community.

“These are things that may seem really small but actually are the things that result in preventing crime,” Chatterjee said. “Ideally we want to prevent crime, not just respond to it.”

All residents should utilize the District’s camera rebate programs, suggested Commissioner Moilanen. He also cited specific programs for vehicular safety including wheel locks for Kia and Hyundai owners and the District’s Doordash partnership for the installation dashboard cameras in delivery vehicles.

Chair Gove echoed Moilanen, noting that cameras can provide “high quality evidence” to law enforcement and can help with tracking crime patterns in the neighborhood as well.

Gove encouraged the residents to attend public safety meetings with law enforcement to express concern about issues, share ongoing neighborhood trends and learn more about the local law enforcement response.

Other Matters
The commission voted to:

  • send a letter to the District Department of Transportation (DDOT) regarding proposed speed limit changes, the commission’s safety walk and all Traffic Safety Inputs for the 11th Street NE Corridor from Florida Avenue to East Capitol Street NE.
  • send a letter of support to DDOT for the streetscape permit application for 1101 H St. NE.

The next meeting of ANC 6A is at 7 p.m. July 13 via Zoom. Get details on committee meetings and how to join online at anc6a.org.

Sarah Payne is a reporter for Capital Community News. She can be reached at sarahp@hillrag.com