Veteran officer says these elements contribute to violence in DC neighborhoods

With homicides up 13% this year compared to the same period last year, a D.C. police commander detailed some of the issues she says play a part in the escalating violence in her district, which spans parts of Southeast and Northeast.

Sixth District Police Cmdr. Durriyyah Habeebullah told a Ward 7 Advisory Neighborhood Commission meeting last week about some incidents of people breaking the law, including a shooting attack on a vehicle on a Southeast street earlier this month that happened right in front police officers staking out the neighborhood.

“I placed them (the officers) strategically in a spot where they could see everything coming forth. And … they were sitting there, people are just so brazen to start shooting. They came around a corner and started shooting,” Habeebullah said during the meeting last Tuesday.

She said officers quickly apprehended the suspect in the shooting on June 6 on 37th Street SE, in which a mother and her adult son riding in a car were shot and had injuries that were not life-threatening. The alleged shooter was in another car. The street is beset by illegal drugs and violence, according to Habeebullah.

She said police are seeking leads in the May 15 drive-by shooting on the 3900 block of Minnesota Avenue NE, in which one person was killed and three wounded. A car was recovered, but there are no known suspects.

Habeebullah listed several neighborhoods as part of her “hot spots” list, including the Mayfair and Kenilworth areas in Northeast and 37th Street in Southeast

“Those are the areas that I really can’t sleep at night because I have to worry about that conflict brewing,” Habeebullah said.

She blamed rival rap groups for helping fuel the violence.

“Some of the violence is attached to some of the rap music that many of our younger people in different areas are involved in,” Habeebullah said.

She urged residents to reach out to mentor any young family members involved in rap groups and conflict in order to avert the potential of deadly violence.

Pictures on social media are also being used to provoke conflict, according to Habeebullah.

“Someone from one of those areas will come take a picture on 37th Street and post it and say, ‘Hey, I’m in your neighborhood and nothing happened to me,’ and all of those things feed this type of conflict and make it a little bit more violent,” Habeebullah said.

She said police are focusing on the neighborhoods in conflict and the individuals known to be involved, and added that regular police stakeouts have been in place in areas, including 37th Street SE, for a year and a half.

Police are also working with the city’s new violence interrupters, focusing on specific individuals who are known to be in conflict with others in rival neighborhood camps, Habeebullah said.

In addition, she offered advice to residents to avoid being carjacked in their own neighborhoods.

The U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia said last month that D.C. chalked up 129 carjackings so far this year, more than double the same period last year.

“If you see somebody hanging out and that person isn’t familiar to your neighborhood, then you should be a little hesitant and you might want to drive around the corner,” Habeebullah said. “If you’re pulling stuff out of your car, try to be as quick as possible … don’t dawdle, especially at night.”

Habeebullah also reminded residents that D.C. offers rebates for the purchase and installation of security cameras up to $500 per home and up to $750 for businesses.

“The cameras not only help MPD, but they also serve as a deterrent … if the neighborhood is flooded with cameras … people are less likely to choose that street as a place where they can commit crime,” she said.

Dick Uliano

Whether anchoring the news inside the Glass-Enclosed Nerve Center or reporting from the scene in Maryland, Virginia or the District, Dick Uliano is always looking for the stories that really impact people's lives.

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