Bowser, Newsham unveil summer crime prevention initiative

D.C.’s mayor and police chief identified six areas of the city that police will target in an effort to reduce violent crime this summer.

At a news conference at Benning Park Community Center Field, on Southern Avenue in Southeast, Mayor Muriel Bowser and police Chief Peter Newsham detailed the 11th annual Safer Stronger DC Summer Crime Prevention Initiative.

Bowser touted the success of last year’s program, saying that targeted areas saw a 25% decrease in assaults with a deadly weapon, a 34% decrease in burglaries and a 15% decrease in overall violent crime.

Asked about what’s new in this year’s program, Newsham said, “I don’t know how much you tweak a program as successful as this one.”

He said that each target area would be assigned a captain whose round-the-clock job would be to coordinate police response.

Newsham added that the police approach to violent crime would involve targeting illegal weapons and repeat violent offenders, and bringing District and federal resources to bear to prevent people from being involved in violent crime in the first place.

The target areas are Langston Carver, Trinidad Kingman Park, Fort Dupont, Benning, Benning Ridge, Marshall Heights, Historic Anacostia, Congress Heights and Washington Highlands.

The six target areas for the 2019 Summer Crime Prevention Initiative. Click to expand. (Courtesy D.C. Government)

Both the mayor and the chief repeated the effectiveness of the city’s private security camera rebate program, which provides rebates of up to $200 per camera and up to $500 per residential address. She said that so far 14,000 cameras have been delivered across D.C. at no cost.

“We want to see our special crime areas saturated with private security cameras,” Bowser said.

In her review with police officials, she stressed how she’d learned “how important video is to solving crimes … When we have clear video, it helps the police and detectives in making sure that we can drive those crimes out of our neighborhood.”

Newsham agreed: “The cameras that are available to the community, in my estimation, are the number one thing that has helped the Metropolitan Police Department apprehend violent offenders in our community. I talk to chiefs across the country — they do not have the luxury that we have here in Washington, D.C.”

Bowser also said she would review every homicide in the District this year with the D.C. police personally.

Both officials mentioned other efforts to strengthen communities to bolster them against violent crime. Bowser touted budget initiatives such as $1.6 million for centers for families to recover from traumatic incidents, $1.6 million for schools to act as neighborhood hubs and $4.7 million for family success centers to “empower families with the services that they need.”

Many people don’t realize all the services available to them, Bowser said, so, “We are going to bring these services to communities.”

For his part, Newsham mentioned police community programs including the National Night Out, community bike rides and walks, ice cream socials, Youth Creating Change program, Junior Police Academy and more.

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