Crackdown Is Yielding Results, Ramsey Says

By Allison Klein
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, October 21, 2006

D.C. Police Chief Charles H. Ramsey and his federal law enforcement partners declared progress yesterday in combating violence in the District, which spiked over the summer and prompted the declaration of a citywide crime emergency.

From July through mid-October, the number of violent crimes fell 18 percent compared with the same period last year, Ramsey said. He made the announcement after members of more than a dozen law enforcement agencies held a "crime summit" to discuss ways to keep moving forward.

This year, homicides are down about 12 percent compared with last year, and robberies are down 2 percent. As of yesterday, the District had recorded 141 homicides this year, compared with 160 at the same point in 2005.

"The initiatives we took in July have stemmed the tide in violent crime we were beginning to see," Ramsey said. "But we have not declared victory."

Ramsey declared the emergency in July, a move that gave him more flexibility in scheduling officers. The D.C. Council passed emergency legislation that authorized the installation of dozens of neighborhood surveillance cameras, set an earlier, 10 p.m. youth curfew and gave police about $10 million in overtime funds.

The chief imposed a mandatory six-day workweek on police officers, which he later limited to twice a month. He said yesterday that most officers will go back to regular schedules in a few weeks. Some units will work mandatory overtime, and the department will ask for volunteers to fill other shifts, he said.

This week, the D.C. Council approved a revised emergency crime package that includes another $4.2 million for police overtime. The youth curfew was returned to 11 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and midnight Friday and Saturday.

After the crime emergency was declared, about a dozen federal agencies -- including the FBI, U.S. attorney's office, U.S. Capitol Police, U.S. Park Police, Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency and U.S. Marshals Service -- formed a task force to attack crime from various angles. They created a robbery task force, executed more arrest warrants and detained more suspects before trial, among other initiatives.

At the summit yesterday, officials said they were pleased with the outcome so far.

"We have defied national statistics, which show spikes in crime," said Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.). "We are not closing shop; we are looking for ways to build on it."

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