Brookland Crime Meeting Well Attended – Action Plan Still Needed

Eddie Johnson, GBBAWard 5 Councilmember Kenyan McDuffieCommander Diane GroomesIMG_0814Commander PorterIMG_0816
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Brookland Crime Meeting 2.11.2014, a set on Flickr.

Readers may recall that there was a meeting about the increase in neighborhood crime hosted by Ward 5 Councilmember Kenyan McDuffie recently. At that meeting over 60 neighbors attended as well as a handful of 12th Street business owners. Advisory Neighborhood Commissioners (ANC) for Single Member District (SMD) 5B03, Michael Morrison and 5B05, Janese Jones were present as well.

Ward 5 Councilmember McDuffie kicked the meeting off by declaring “I am solutions oriented person” and that he is interested in hearing the communities concerns. Eddie Johnson from the Greater Brookland Business Association (GBBA), a co-host of the meeting, noted that with new developments in the Brookland area, police forces will be stretched.

There were many representatives from the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) including Commander Diane Groomes, (Assistant Chief in charge of the Patrol Services and School Security Bureau) new District 5 Commander Diedre Porter , and many other MPD officers from the 5th and 4th Districts.Commander Porter gave an update on recent crimes. The Silvestre’s armed robbery is still open and under investigation. The CVS “smash and grab” is still open, they are working with Maryland peers, and actively investigating. She also addressed the topic of complaints of Luke C Moore Academy students using pot and loitering around 10th and Monroe NE. The Commander met with the school’s principle and increased officer patrols around Turkey Thicket and the 10th Street area. So far there have been no new complaints. The Commander discussed crime statistics in comparison to last year at this same time. Overall crime is up especially along the 12th Street corridor, for example, theft from autos is up from 6 last year at this time to 9 this year. The Commander plans to add foot or bike patrols as resources are available, especially this summer.

The meeting was then turned over to the community for a question and answer session. I tried my best to capture the conversation below. All in all it was a good meeting. I think I speak for the community members present in that we appreciated MPD’s and Councilmember McDuffie’s community engagement. In the end though, I can’t say that we walked away with any kind of “Action Plan” or concrete next steps. Quite frankly, I think it is up to the community to determine what types of steps we would like to see taken and bring them forward. I spoke to ANC Commissioners Jones and Morrison and Brookland Neighborhood Civic Association (BNCA) President Tom Bridge afterward, and all were on board with coming up with a unified set of actions the community would like to see taken. Tom Bridge offered that the BNCA could organize community watch or walks. MPD representatives wanted the community to know that they can send texts to 50411 which is an anonymous tip line, if you see something out of the normal, or call 911. Also, they offered practical advice such as making sure your home’s exterior lights are on, not to leave valuables like purses and laptops in cars and don’t use electronic devices or earplugs when walking.

  • Q) The CVS And Silvestre’s robberies seem to be professional. A) We don’t know if the thieves are “professional”, but each crime was clearly coordinated.
  • Q) There was a discussion about the MPD 2011 – 2012 crime report, it appeared that crimes in many categories are going up  – what is MPD going to do? A) While there was an overall increase, there was a decrease in violent crime. Theft from robberies and property crime are up. Generally MPD looks at the previous 30 days and year to date statistics and adjusts resources and tactics accordingly.
  • Q) We need community policing/community involvement and relationships, not just car patrols. A) Commander Porter agreed that we should have more police walking. Also, the police would be happy to walk with organized neighborhood patrols/watches.
  • Q) There was a discussion of “close rates” of crimes. A) Commissioner Groomes said they do a number of activities to solve crimes for example, note crime trends and deploy plain clothes officers, look at neighboring /PG County trends, cracking down on second hand dealers of stolen goods, and partner with METRO police. DC’s closure rate is higher than most cities.
  • Q) Is there any news on the shooting at 22nd and Lawrence? A) Actively investigating.
  • Q) Do you have enough resources? If not how can we push for more? A) Commander Groomes – we have 100 more officers in the Academy. The Academy is full. DC is becoming a 24 hour city so that is an adjustment we are making.
  • Q) What steps are being to make the Metropolitan Branch Trail more secure? A) We made 8 to 10 arrests on MBT last year. We have a bike patrol.
  • Q) What is the long-range strategic plan for the area, factoring in the new developments and population increases? A) CM McDuffie said he is working on filling the gap between resources and need. He noted a strategic plan that he requested for the Trinidad neighborhood. Actions like increased patrols were implemented, but we can’t leave everything at foot of MPD. He said he is working with other agencies to try and connect young men with resources. He meets with the Deputy Mayor who is very interested that neighborhoods receive adequate policing for new developments. Also MPD looks at areas with developments and strategically deploys resources.
  • There was discussion from residents about cleaning up our own neighborhood and getting to know each other. We shouldn’t assume unemployed people are not invested in the community. Let’s take control of our community.  No one wants to hire kids with no skills, they need opportunity and skills.
  • Q) I see kids smoking pot at Turkey Thicket or the gas station at 8:30 – 9:30 every morning and walk toward Luke C Moore. I didn’t  know if they are students or not, but if they are, this is a problem because they cannot focus on school. We need plain clothes cops. A) Commissioner Porter promised to re-visit the Luke C Moore issue.
  • ANC Commissioner Janese Jones noted that she has gotten a lot of feedback from residents that she could share. An ongoing issue is that Turkey Thicket is the 5th District and the Neighborhood across from it is the 4th District. This causes issues when the two districts aren’t coordinated or calls where police don’t respond because of district borders.

3 thoughts on “Brookland Crime Meeting Well Attended – Action Plan Still Needed”

  1. “Also, they offered practical advice such as making sure your home’s exterior lights are on, not to leave valuables like purses and laptops in cars and don’t use electronic devices or earplugs when walking.”

    Yes, because we all know it is ultimately our fault

    Was there an update on the MBT beatings investigations?

  2. Everyone at MPD takes orders from ‘higher-ups’– including Chief Lanier. The reason the “Academy is full” @ 100 new recruits, as A/C Groomes asserted, is because Vince Gray failed to authorize an increase to 4,300 to keep pace with DC’s young adult population explosion– up about 12%. That’s just part of MPD-HQ’s misleading political hypocrisy (represented by Groomes at this meeting apparently).

    Fact is, ANY police department anywhere should remain scrupulously NON-POLITICAL and NON-PARTISAN in ALL aspects of its official policing functions. One does not have to be an ethicist to understand why that is a fundamental maxim of urban policing best practices.

    However, MPD under Lanier’s watch– and especially under Vincent Gray, has become openly and outrageously POLITICAL– demonstrating both open favoritism for, and implying OFFICIAL MPD POLICE BIAS against, individual MPD critics and entire groups of people whom MPD is sworn to serve and protect.

    Did A/C Groomes explain why Commander Solberg (5D) and Commander Hickson (1D) were so abruptly and gracelessly replaced on 4 February? And might that require divulging MPD-HQ’s political secrets?

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