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Posted at 07:05 AM ET, 04/04/2008

Pressing for a Crime Emergency in Ward 5

Councilmember Harry Thomas, Jr. (D-Ward 5) called yesterday for D.C. police to declare a "crime emergency" in his ward, the second council member to raise an alarm about neighborhood violence this week.

Muriel Bowser (D-Ward 4) held an emergency meeting Tuesday night to discuss the two homicides last weekend in her ward-- one in the 1200 block of Kennedy Street NW and another behind the 6900 block of Georgia Avenue NW.

But it seems police aren't taking Thomas' crime-fighting suggestion.

"There won't be a crime emergency," said police spokeswoman Traci Hughes.

The councilman says his ward is in a dire situation.

He noted that robberies and killings are up. There have been nine homicides this year, most of which occurred in the Langston, Trinidad, and Edgewood neighborhoods. Last year at this time there were six slayings.

He wants Chief Cathy L. Lanier to follow the direction of former Chief Charles H. Ramsey who declared citywide crime emergencies, including one in the summer of 2006, when homicide and robberies jumped sharply.

The emergency in 2006 gave Ramsey the freedom to switch officers schedules and have them work extra days and hours for much longer stretches of time. It cost the city $14 million.

"The declaration of a Crime Emergency in 2006 quelled a surge of violence that had overtaken the city.
We have a similar level of violence right now in Ward 5," Thomas said in a news release. "I would like to see what worked at the city-wide level implemented at the Ward level. We must do whatever it takes to bring an end to the violence gripping Ward 5."

Police said the district commander in charge of Thomas' ward has already put more officers out on the street, and more are coming.

Thomas might try talking to Assistant Chief Diane Groomes who is in charge of patrol. She has the authority to move officers around from district to district -- and as long as she doesn't change their schedule -- it doesn't have to cost the city a dime.

While crime is up in some areas of the city, violent crime citywide is down five percent.

Allison Klein

Also: Klein writes today about Police Chief Cathy Lanier's scaling back of her gun search program.

By Marcia Davis  |  07:05 AM ET, 04/04/2008

Categories:  D.C. Council, D.C. Council

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