Uptick in DC teen violence is a ‘deeper problem’

WASHINGTON — DC police say the number of teens losing their lives on the streets of the city is not a trend, but a deeper problem.

Ten kids have lost their lives so far this year, according to DC police data, and investigators said that does not count the many more who were hurt or suspected to be responsible for the shootings. Now a District councilman and assistant police chief are leading a new charge to make a change.

It was pouring down rain Wednesday afternoon, when a D.C. school resource officer heard gunfire and saw a group of teens run from an alley near Democracy Prep Charter School.

“It’s just a trauma for everybody and so disturbing to me … You just see the number of kids out there, so I mean my heart goes out to them to have witnessed this,” Assistant Chief Chanel Dickerson said.

Dickerson grew up not far from where Ballou High School freshman Jaylyn Wheeler, 15, was shot to death. Democratic Council member Trayon White (D-Ward 8), joined a rally, asking men in the community to step up and be mentors. 

Making a connection with the community is essential to changing the reality of violence, Dickerson said.

“I don’t know what the answer is now, other than combating the illegal firearms and focusing on them because if we remove them off the streets then those young men wouldn’t have had the weapon to take Jaylyn’s life,” Dickerson said.

Among other police initiatives, Dickerson wants to start a mentoring program to offer underprivileged kids a new perspective on their future.

“We just have to start somewhere because their lives really matter. I just need them to realize their lives matter as well,” Dickerson said.

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