“I’m trying to determine what type of resources I have and how we will deploy — foot patrol versus bike patrol versus cars,” Lanier said in a recent interview.
These days, police study not only where crime happens but also where they think it will happen. As residential and retail development pushes more people and businesses into new areas, economic development data can be as important in shaping police staffing decisions as armed-robbery statistics.
In communities identified as redeveloping, the police presence can become more visible through increased foot and bicycle patrols. More detectives are assigned to investigate the crimes that occur. Officials reach out to residents and community leaders, and they survey business owners on their needs.
Lanier keeps a binder stuffed with numbers on 14 areas considered the District’s up-and-coming shopping and residential hubs, including the Southwest Waterfront and City Center along New York Avenue NW.
She’s preparing a five-year plan to detail how she intends to police those neighborhoods in the future.
“My primary goal, as these areas roll out, is that not only are they safe, but that they feel safe,” Lanier said, explaining that she deploys an “initial surge of officers” as an area becomes established. “We need to set the standard very quickly of what is what is not acceptable.”
Today, her attention runs toward areas that include H Street in Northeast and Columbia Heights and the U Street corridor in Northwest. On H Street, residents had long complained of rampant drug dealing and prostitution. Redevelopment has brought new businesses, residents and visitors, but also more street robberies and late-night nuisance crime.
Years ago, the area around Gallery Place in Northwest was the epicenter of District revitalization. In a place once largely deserted, the construction of a downtown arena produced a gradual escalation in the number and quality of restaurants, shops and residences. It also attracted problems — including crowd issues, traffic congestion, shoplifting and robberies.
The District is not a 24-hour city. Still, residential neighborhoods largely served by corner-store retail have been transformed into day-and-night destinations for people from across the region. That has meant a change for a police department that for decades chiefly struggled with homicide and the drug trade.