D.C. police investigating drug-trafficking at 14 city schools over the past year have arrested 24 persons allegedly involved in sales at the schools, city officials were told yesterday.
The disclosure was made in a confidential report given to members of the City Council by Police Chief Burtell M. Jefferson at a hearing on juvenile drug abuse convened in the wake of recently voiced community concern about the problem.
Police also are continuing investigations at least three schools, in some instances using unercover officers, according to a ranking police official who asked not to be identified.
Only one copy of the written report was made available, and Jefferson, saying that public disclosure of the report could hinder police operations, refused several council members' requests to discuss the materials.
However, council member Nadine P. Winter (D-Ward 6) inadvertently remarked as the list of schools was passed to her. "I see 14 schools here, and two of them are in my own ward." Winter's ward includes Capitol Hill, near Northeast and parts of Anacostia.
Council member David A. Clarke (D-Ward 1), chairman of the council's Judiciary Committee, quickely reminded Winter that the information was supposed to be confidential and took the report out of her hands.
Jefferson again refused to discuss the material, but later it was learned that a total of 10 of the arrests were made at Eastern High School, 17th and East Capitol streets NE, and Anacostia High School, 16th and R streets SE.
Elizabeth Yancey, vice superintendent of schools, said the school system is aware that the schools, including Eastern and Anacostia, were under investigation. "We have good liaison with them [the police]. They inform us on each occasion when they want to come into a school," she said.
When asked about the arrests at Eastern and Anacostia, Yancey said, "I am aware there had been some incidents there, but I can't remember the others off the top of my head."
Jefferson appeared with other wittnesses from federal and local law enforcement agencies, the school system and social serive agencies, who told the council members that the drug problem in the city is serious, but has not reached epidemic proportions.
That testimony, however, did not stop council members from criticizing police and school officials who they felt were not strigent enough in their efforts to combat juvenile drug abuse.
Charles F. C. Ruffs, the U.S. attorney here, said city and federal agencies were cooperating to solve the drug problem, but, Ruff said, "There will never be a time in a week, a year or a hundred years when there is no drug problem here."
"I am not of the opinion that we cannot run dealers out of the District," Winter told Ruff. "We know this problem exists, and I wonder if extra effort and tighter surveillance might not go a long way to clear it up."
Jefferson said the police department was doing its best, but was hindered by limited funds. "Manpower is the bottom line in enforcement," Jefferson said.
Council member Hilda Mason (S-At Large) said, "It just seems to me like we're spinning our wheels when we talk about how much money we need to fight this problem and I know the chief has come here for more money. What I want to know is, what are we doing with what we've got?"
Between 1978 and 1979, the number of juveniles arrested on durg-abuse charges here has increased by 26 percent, from 280 in 1978 to 335 last year, according to police statistics. Yesterday, Inspector Winford K. Coligan said that 158 arrests were made through July. No more recent figures were available, he said.
Coligan said heroin, which is coming into the area from the "Golden Crescent" areas of Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan, is posing the most problems for police, along with cocaine, the hallucinogenic drug PCP, marijuana and two pharamaceutical drugs -- Preludin and Dilaudid.
After the meeting, Clarke said he believed there was more coordination than he had suspected among federal and local agencies, but the effort is still insufficient. Clarke said social service agencies and schools officials were not adequately operating in conjuction with law enforcement teams.