Mayor slates new security cameras for DC public housing after its cameras miss killings

D.C.’s mayor has concerns about safety in public housing, and is placing some of the city’s new security cameras there following a number of killings that were not caught on existing cameras.

A day after announcing a $5 million investment to expand the District’s crime camera network, WTOP asked Mayor Muriel Bowser and police Chief Peter Newsham why some of the 140 CCTV security cameras are slated for areas on and within the D.C. Housing Authority, which already has its own security cameras.

“We have concerns about gaps in coverage in public housing. None of the cameras on public housing properties are within my jurisdiction, or the chief’s jurisdiction,” Bowser said, following an unrelated press conference Tuesday.

“We aim to change that with the new investment in cameras and working with the housing authority to get our cameras in those spaces,” she added.

The areas across the city where the cameras will be installed starting next week were identified as those plagued by violent crime, some around public housing, Newsham said.

Placing some of the new cameras near Housing Authority properties stems from the need for better coverage, not due to lack of access, he said.

The increase in security comes three months after a maintenance crew found 16-year-old Domonique Franklin’s body in an empty public housing apartment on M Street in Southwest D.C. He had been shot to death, police said.

That morning, on Aug. 30, Newsham expressed disappointment after learning a nearby security camera was broken.

“You know, it’s very frustrating. We have a camera that sits right over the apartment, and it appears that that camera is not operational,” Newsham said at the crime scene.

While there’s no telling whether security footage could have helped the investigation, D.C. police said the teenage boy’s killing remains unsolved.

Noting there haven’t been many other recent cases of inoperable cameras, Newsham spoke to the need for increased security coverage, especially in the Kenilworth, James Creek and Greenleaf neighborhoods.

D.C. Housing Authority spokeswoman Christine Goodman said it appreciates the partnerships with the city and D.C. police in the enhanced CCTV coverage, but maintains approximately 2,000 internal and external cameras of its own.

“While there is no requirement for cameras in our communities, DCHA realizes that CCTV cameras are an effective crime deterrent and investigative tool,” Goodman said in a statement.

Public housing security is run by the D.C. Authority Police Department, which is independent from the Metropolitan Police Department.

WTOP’s Kristi King contributed to this report. 

Megan Cloherty

WTOP Investigative Reporter Megan Cloherty primarily covers breaking news, crime and courts.

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