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Capitol Hill Residents Organize to Weigh Concerns About Recent Crime

by Sean Meehan October 23, 2015 at 3:45 pm 13 Comments

First District Commander Jeff Brown with Police Chief Cathy Lanier, April 7, 2015Some Capitol Hill residents are organizing neighborhood watches and groups to advocate for a more robust police presence after a week of violent crime in the area.

Crime was the main topic of conversation at Ward 6 Councilman Charles Allen’s community office hours this morning at Curbside Cafe in Hill East.

After a week in which five armed robberies occurred in Ward 6 in 40 minutes on Wednesday night and two shootings happened this morning, Allen has scheduled an additional community safety meeting for next week.

Metropolitan Police Chief Cathy Lanier and First District Commander Jeff Brown will also be at the meeting, which will take place at 7 p.m. Tuesday at Friendship Public Charter School (1345 Potomac Ave. SE). Allen said he also invited representatives from the U.S. Attorney’s Office to the meeting.

However, some Hill residents are unsatisfied with a string of safety meetings that they say have not led to any progress combating crime in the neighborhood.

On Thursday, Hill East resident Sarah Spurgeon created a group called Citizens
for a Safe Capitol Hill. By this morning, more than 100 people had signed up to participate in the group, which Spurgeon hopes will be able to advocate for more and better police presence across the Capitol Hill area.

Citizens for a Safe Capitol Hill will hold their first meeting on Sunday at Bayou Bakery at 901 Pennsylvania Ave. SE. The meeting will take place at 2 p.m., and those interested in attending are encouraged to RSVP online. Spurgeon said the first meeting will give the neighbors a chance to articulate their various concerns and brainstorm ideas for how the group can take action.

Also on Sunday, Capitol Hill church The World Mission Society Church of God at 700 A St. NE will hold a public neighborhood watch and public safety fair. The fair will be held at 1 p.m., and will include a presentation from MPD First District Captain Mark Beach on neighborhood safety.

According to a press release from the church, security cameras around the church have caught several area robberies on video, leading to some arrests. However, representatives at the church said they wanted to do even more to combat crime around Capitol Hill.

“By uniting the community, we can turn our vulnerability into a strength by working hand-in-hand with our public safety officials to reduce future incidents and establish an active Capitol Hill neighborhood watch program,” church representatives said in the press release.

Additionally, the “Orange Hats,” a group that has done community safety walks in Hill East for more than 20 years invites neighbors to join their walk tonight at 8:30. The group starts their walks at the intersection of 14th and D streets SE.

  • Hill Resident

    “However, some Hill residents are unsatisfied with a string of safety meetings that they say have not led to any progress combating crime in the neighborhood.”
    I’m one of them. I put this in an earlier comment that didn’t make the article earlier in the week.
    There is no deterrent to crime in this city right now. I applaud neighborhood watches but that will be only a temporary measure.
    A deterrent is something that should make the act of committing a crime not worth the risk of being 1) caught or 2) hurt themselves.
    More police or Vice like activities at the street level is one way, maybe a higher more visible Hill population taking to the street (probably between 2200-0300 are the ideal hours to be making the rounds [need to data mine the crime statistics to find the ideal timeframe]).
    What would make the criminal feel like they would potentially be hurt by committing a crime? I know what I can do at a personal level, but am prevented by the laws that don’t allow me because “just living in a high crime area” isn’t justification. MPD and our elected official know what I mean. Are there other measures?
    I would like to hear from the Chief/Mayor/Mr. Allen and the AJO what they think is an appropriate response to these two criteria? Of course the subject of funding (or lack of) will come to light.
    Honestly (and I have said this in the past)…I would rather see a more robust police force supported by the city than streetcars on H Street.

    • Andrew

      Another shooting this evening at 17th and Independence, SE.

    • facts_not_emotions

      All the crimes that were mentioned in this article happened during the daytime or evening.

      • Hill Resident

        Regarding time of day of crime events….hence my comment: “need to data mine the crime statistics to find the ideal timeframe”.
        A 24-hour “footprint” may be a bridge too far, but heck…DC may need it now.

        • facts_not_emotions

          Yes…..but you had already hinted toward 2200 to 0300 hours.

  • John Johnson

    It is great that a church is taking a proactive action to solve the problems in the community. Church of God is already well known for their active volunteer services and I have no doubt that they will help the city become a safer place to live in through this fair.

  • James P.

    The safety of residents living in the Capitol Hill area, or anywhere for that matter, should be taken very seriously. It is reassuring to see people not sitting still, but coming together with local officials to do something about the recent crime waves and help to ensure safety in the community, especially when they are taking an active role to bring about change. Organizations like Citizens for a Safe Capitol Hill and the World Mission Society Church of God, who offer not only their support, but also their time and resources to stop crime, are commendable and are instrumental in bringing about positive action and results. If everyone is willing to lend support in whatever way they can, in the end, justice will prevail, and will lead to a safer neighborhood, offering peace of mind.

  • liyali

    Wow, this sounds like a great initiative. And it’s super impressive that this Church of God is working with the community to support neighborhood safety. I’m actually really impressed by the comments they released. They sound like they have a genuine resolution to help not just the community, but also the world.

  • Sarai Riviera

    It is troubling to hear about the increase of crimes yet again, but I’m glad the community is gathering together to help face the problem. I went to a blood drive the World Mission Society Church of God held a few weeks back at NYU and one of their reps mentioned many of the members are CERT trained in case of emergency. Seems like a pretty awesome group.

  • DC-Native

    DC would first need to recognize that crime is in fact illegal.

    • Josh

      That’s the thing. DC Police can arrest every person that commits a crime in the city immediately, but that does nothing when the U.S. Attorney doesn’t prosecute, when the judges release them back to the streets before trial, and DC juries don’t want to convict no matter what the evidence shows.
      Dealing with crime issues is not just a police matter, as the causes of it are numerous and complicated, but when the police/court aspect of the system isn’t working, it makes things harder.

  • hosino

    Wow, Church of God is already well known for their active volunteer services.


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