The Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) of the District of Columbia is changing how it conducts patrols in anticipation of the summer season and response to an uptick in cr!me. On Monday, May 1, the department will implement a new approach departing Chief Robert Contee describes as “a return to the basics.”
On Thursday, Contee and Mayor Muriel Bowser held a press conference to discuss the new initiative. “This isn’t putting someone in the corner to deter a cr!me or officers writing tickets and making arrests,” Contee said.
According to Contee, according to MPD statistics, his officers will take a “community-based approach” to patrolling while also being assigned to “areas of concern” most affected by cr!me.
“This is about officers getting out of their vehicles and engaging the community by being problem solvers, talking with community members to identify issues, and checking in with businesses and apartment complexes,” Contee said.
Unlike in previous years, when MPD officers only interacted with residents in areas considered “hot spots” over the summer, officers will be present in all eight wards to prevent and reduce cr!me. According to the most recent statistics supplied by MPD, cr!me the District is up by 25% compared to last year.
Residents like Ursula King in ward eight, worried about recent g*n violence, recall community policing as a time when the cr!me was lower. Positive since it was more of a “we get each other” than anything else. King told police officers had “a lot to offer” the public.
In the Congress Heights area, where eight people, including a 12-year-old girl, were shot a week before, we met with King. With the walking and talking with people, “they know that they are out here, they know that they care, and it establishes better communication,” King said.
Maria Grijalva and her other volunteers served food to locals only a few feet away. “I can see how people will be apprehensive, especially with how things have been with the police,” Grijalva added. She thinks the plan might help reduce tensions between police and locals.
Getting out and around and making personal connections is critical. She said this was possible by anticipating people’s wants and meeting them in kind.
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In an interview with John Henry, Mikki Charles, a leading organizer with the activist organization Harriet’s Wildest Dreams, expressed fear that Contee’s resignation from MPD will reduce the efficacy of the most recent approach.
She said, “I think the city has a turnover in leadership positions that affect our public safety. How can we trust the decision-making of Bowser’s administration when key players keep leaving?”
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