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  •   Evans Campaigns Against Drugs

    By Steven Gray
    Washington Post Staff Writer
    Friday, July 17, 1998; Page C07

    Mayoral candidate Jack Evans yesterday pledged to sweep the District's streets of open-air drug markets, vowing to move more than 1,000 uniformed police officers from administrative work and special units to street duty in an effort to lower crime.

    Against the backdrop of what he called one of the most notorious open-air drug markets in the city, at Seventh and T streets NW, Evans proposed a program to use a special task force to crack down on organized drug trafficking.

    The program would send more police officers to patrol streets that are known corridors of open drug sales. Evans, a Democrat who represents Ward 2 on the D.C. Council, said he would also work to find the owners of decaying buildings and urge them to "clean it up."

    "If it's a private owner, what incentives can we give the owner to clean it up? Once the environment looks safe, your community gets safer," Evans said before a small audience that included workers and students bound for a nearby Metro stop.

    District resident Haydee Patterson, 49, agreed that drug dealers and prostitutes should be removed from the street corner, but he said the biggest issue in this year's election is securing jobs for young people.

    "My first issue is getting jobs for these kids. We need to give these kids jobs and let them know that we really care about them," said Patterson, who approached Evans and told him that he originally planned to vote for council member Kevin P. Chavous (D-Ward 7) for mayor but that he would be "following Evans's campaign."

    Evans isn't the first to pledge to redeploy 900 officers from desk jobs to street duty. Last year, then-Police Chief Larry D. Soulsby made a similar vow, but he was unable to deliver on his promise. Evans, chairman of the council Judiciary Committee, said he will issue a proposal next week outlining his plans to restructure the city's police force. Part of that restructuring, he said, would move 1,000 of the city's 3,600 police officers onto street patrols.

    "There's no reason I can't have that many officers on the beat," said Evans, who explained later that he wants to free officers from administrative jobs by hiring civilians to do some of that work.

    Restaurant owner David Xu said groups of men and women who regularly stand on the street corner have stormed into his restaurant, harassing employees and customers and openly selling drugs.

    "A lot of them sell crack right there. They just stand there and sell drugs," said Xu, pointing out of the thick bullet-proof window of his Georgia Avenue takeout restaurant.

    Xu says he often calls for help from the police, and they chase the drug dealers away.

    "If the police move them out, they come right back," he says, adding that he is building a wall around the windows in an effort to deter them from coming in.

    Staff writer Hamil R. Harris contributed to this report.

    © Copyright 1998 The Washington Post Company

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