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U Street Area Crime Spike Draws Large Crowd to PSA 305 Meeting

PSA 305, U Street corridor, DC Police

Police Service Area 305 includes most of the U Street corridor east of 16th Street NW. (DC Citizen Atlas)

From Cody Telep. Follow him on Twitter @codywt, email him at cody@borderstan.com.

About 40 residents attended the Police Service Area (PSA) 305 Community Meeting held Tuesday night at the Third District Station on V Street NW. A large number of residents living on 12th Place NW and surrounding streets were in attendance, in response to a spike in burglaries and other incidents in October.

PSA 305 covers much of the U Street corridor and also extends beyond Borderstan’s boundaries into Ledroit Park and areas surrounding Howard University.

Third District Commander Joseph Kishter called it the biggest turn out he had seen at a community meeting during his time in the Third District. The commander of PSA 305, Lieutenant Alberto Jova, and Councilmember Jim Graham (D-Ward 1) addressed a number of resident concerns about crime and safety.

Crime Down, Back to September Levels

Lieutenant Jova reported that violent crime in PSA 305 was down 55 percent from October numbers and property crime was down 41 percent. However as Brian Card, Public Safety Co-Chair of the U Street Neighborhood Association, pointed out, while these declines are welcome news to PSA 305 residents, because of a rather dramatic crime increase in October, the declines more accurately reflect a return to previous (i.e., September) crime levels.

iPhone Thefts, Choronic Offenders

When asked what could explain the crime spike in October, Lieutenant Jova placed some of the blame on the release of the Apple iPhone 4S, which came out on October 14. As noted last week, robberies were up across Borderstan in October (Everyone Fears Robberies: Where and How They Occur in Borderstan). In October, 31 of the 44 October robberies in Borderstan occurred on or after October 14, and 18 of these 31 were in PSA 305.

Graham and Kishter also both pointed to the problem of a small number of chronic juvenile offenders committing crimes in PSA 305, particularly violent crimes. Kishter noted the frequent disappointment of police when juvenile arrests are not fully prosecuted. Graham detailed his efforts to ensure that a new law that eliminates confidentiality protections for chronic juvenile offenders is being properly implemented. This would allow the community to be better informed about the identities of juvenile repeat offenders.

Residents asked Kishter both what the department was doing to address crime and also for tips on how to avoid crime victimization. The Commander pointed to the use of the Crime Suppression Team (CST) as one tool to tackle problems that arise across the Third District, including those in the area of 12th Place. CST officers work in plain clothes and unmarked cars and have a more flexible schedule than standard PSA officers, allowing them to more easily “put out fires” as Commander Kishter noted.

He also described an “astronomical” number of arrests in PSA 305 in the past 60 days. He pointed out that the close to 200 arrests in the PSA are not necessarily the preferred way to deal with crime. He would much rather be preventing crime than responding to it through arrest.

Prevention Tips

In terms of prevention, Kishter stressed the importance of residents paying attention to what they are doing.

  • Daytime Crime Patterns. He pointed out that while daytime violent crimes are only a small proportion of all violent crimes in PSA 305, they typically occur when individuals are using their phone or iPod and not paying attention to their surroundings. He recommended residents walk in crowds and go to areas where they feel comfortable.
  • Home Security. To avoid property crime victimization, Commander Kishter encouraged residents to install home cameras and security systems. He noted that cameras not only deter potential offenders, but if a break-in does occur, footage from the home system is often very useful in solving the case.
  • Call 911. Kishter also emphasized the importance of calling 911 whenever suspicious activity is observed. There is not a non-emergency number to reach the police, so 911 is the best way to report anything suspicious. The call taker can then dispatch the call at the appropriate priority level based on the information provided. The Commander told residents to provide the 911 call taker with as much information as possible regarding the physical appearance of any suspicious persons and the direction they are traveling. He pointed out that looking at the shoes of the individual can be especially useful, since offenders may change clothes after committing a crime, but they are less likely to switch their shoes.

New PSA Boundaries Coming in January

As of January 1, 2012, new PSA boundaries are expected to go into effect, as discussed before on Borderstan (Police Districts and PSAs Changing in Borderstan Area). The new PSA 305 will be smaller and largely restricted to the U Street corridor. No announcements have been made yet on PSA Lieutenants for the Third District once realignment occurs.

This post was written by:

- who has written 123 posts on Borderstan.

A resident of the U Street area, Telep writes about crime and the police. He’s slowly but surely finishing a PhD in criminology at George Mason University. When he’s not working on his dissertation, you can find him eating and drinking all over Borderstan. Follow him on Twitter @codywt. Email him at cody@borderstan.com.

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