DC attorney general looking for organizations to run 4 crime-prevention sites

As the District closes a deadly year, D.C.’s top prosecutor says he’s ready to expand a violence-prevention program into four new neighborhoods.

D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine explained that the funding is there for organizations who want to run a Cure the Streets site. The nationally recognized program, up and running in D.C. since 2017, employs former felons and community members who know their neighborhoods to disrupt and prevent crime there.

The expansion would bring the city to 10 Cure the Streets sites. The program is funded through the D.C. Council and the attorney general’s office.

“I understand that there’s a greater demand right now than there is supply of Cure sites. And so I’ll just hold off and ask people to be patient with us, as the program expands,” Racine said.

Racine’s office identified the four sites as Congress Heights, Brightwood Park-Petworth, Ivy City and Historic Anacostia.

“Among the neighborhoods we looked at, and to be sure we looked at at least another 15, those were the ones that were the most crying out for help,” Racine told WTOP.

There have been 204 killings in D.C. so far in 2021, a 12% increase compared to this time of year in 2020. However, 2020 was also deadlier than the year before, according to D.C. police data.

Racine’s office is still collecting data on the impact of the pilot program, but he said it is clear that there are fewer homicides and shootings where sites are active in D.C. Racine said he is cautious about reading too much from the data, as he has to keep the long view in mind as to whether the program is worth the city’s future investment.

“And so while the numbers are good, I’m looking at numbers for the next three or four years, so that the city can make a responsible decision as to how much to spend its taxpayer resources,” he said.

The Cure the Streets site breaks down why the four neighborhood areas were chosen to host the new locations. A map showing the geographic boundaries of the new sites is available here.

  • Congress Heights: This residential and commercial neighborhood had the highest number of incidents of violent gun crime in the District in 2020 and 2021. According to D.C. police data, since 2018, there have been 114 gun assaults with a dangerous weapon and 27 gun homicides in the target area alone.
  • Brightwood Park-Petworth: This target area will include residential and commercial areas from Brightwood Park to Petworth and part of Columbia Heights. Within this area, ongoing and complex conflicts have resulted in multiple shootings and retaliatory violence in recent years. Since 2018, there have been 107 gun assaults with a dangerous weapon and 17 gun homicides.
  • Sursum Corda-Ivy City: The target area located within these two residential and commercial areas has been the site of 47 gun assaults with a dangerous weapon and 12 gun homicides over the past three years.
  • Historic Anacostia-Fairlawn: This area has experienced high rates of gun violence for decades. Since 2018, there have been 54 gun assaults with a dangerous weapon and 15 gun homicides in the target area.

Council members reacted positively to the announcement that the city plans to add four new Cure sites.

“So much of the gun violence we see in our community stems from personal disputes and conflicts between neighboring crews,” said Ward 4 Council member Janeese Lewis George. “Thankfully we will soon have a dedicated Cure the Streets team working day in and day out in Petworth and Brightwood Park to forge trust, resolve conflict, prevent retaliation, and build lasting peace in our neighborhoods.”

Racine said Cure the Streets has a model that is particularly effective in identifying and resolving “beefs” or tensions between neighborhoods that could lead to violence.

“We’re happy to have the council as a partner to fund the Cure the Streets sites,”
he said.

Megan Cloherty

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

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