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Thursday, May 23, 2024

Chief Smith and Commander Hall Visit ANC 7D

Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 7D met March 12 via Zoom. Commissioners Siraaj Hasan (7D01), Wendell Felder (7D03, chair), Mike Davis (7D04), Ebony Payne (7D05), Marc Friend (7D06), Brett Astmann (7D07, treasurer), Brian Alcorn (7D08, vice chair), Ashley Schapitl (7D09), secretary) and Brianne Eby-Stockert (7D10) were in attendance. Single Member District 7D02 remains vacant.

Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) First District Commander Colin Hall briefed the commission on crime trends and public safety initiatives. Gunfire around in the area is his “top concern.” The department is “pouring resources” into the area, he said. The increased police presence has improved public safety, he argued. “I think we are getting to a better place.”  Neighbors have noticed.

Chair Felder commended the department’s community engagement citing safety walks and increase in patrol vehicles and officers on foot. Treasurer Astmann echoed Felder’s praise, commending their “visibility and availability” and effectiveness in pulling over vehicles on residential streets.

“We’ve definitely, anecdotally, noticed a big change, not only the police presence, but things just anecdotally seemed calmer,” Astmann said. “It feels like it’s making a big impact on the community.”

MPD Chief Pamela Smith later joined the conversation. She pointed to the Secure DC Act, promising upcoming public safety initiatives. Enforcement and accountability, Smith stated, are key to mitigating violent crime in the city.

“We don’t want anybody or anyone to think that they can get away with crime in the District of Columbia, which is why you’ve seen a significant number of arrests and why you see our officers are working very, very diligently 24 hours a day, seven days a week to ensure that we keep the people of the District of Columbia safe,” Smith said.

The Real-Time Crime Center, Smith said, will allow the department to work beyond jurisdictional lines with local, state and federal partners to track crime as it’s happening in real time. She attributed the delay in its opening to a missing piece of technology. Smith urged residents and business owners to grant MPD access to their security cameras for integration into the center once it is running.

Commissioner Friend inquired about possible alternative approaches to crime control. He referenced Baltimore’s city-wide gun violence reduction plan that examines crime from a public health perspective. Could a similar approach aid the District? he asked.

A holistic approach, Smith said, including economic development, mental health and wraparound services, particularly for youth, is key to the mitigation of crime and something MPD is actively engaging with. She emphasized the importance of working with the District of Columbia Public Schools (DCPS) to “rebuild and reestablish trust” with young people.

The commission voted to:

• write to Events DC requesting community engagement and coordination during the RFK campus spring festival season to help minimize negative impact to nearby residential communities;

• support the implementation of a District Department of Transportation (DDOT) Bikeshare Station in the 1500 Block of North Carolina Avenue NE.

• request that DDOT extend the comment period beyond 10 days and to provide the commission with additional information about the lane re-configuration project on westbound C Street NE between 17th and 16th Streets NE.

ANC 7D will meet next on April 9 at 6:30 p.m. via Zoom. You can learn more about the commission and register to attend at 7d0761.wixsite.com/anc7d-1.

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

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