D.C. Mayor Sharon Pratt Dixon announced last night the formation of a multi-agency task force headed by City Administrator John Bond III to combat violence among young people.
Dixon made the announcement during a walking tour of the Oakwood section of Southeast Washington with Police Chief Isaac Fulwood Jr., residents who regularly patrol the neighborhood's streets and other city officials.
The task force will include officials from several city departments, including Human Services, Corrections, Recreation, Public and Assisted Housing and D.C. police, Dixon said. "We've got to pull these agencies together," she said.
Dixon's announcement of the task force came a day after a 13-year-old youth was stabbed and critically injured at Kramer Junior High School in Southeast, allegedly by a 15-year-old girl schoolmate. Dixon said the task force is not being formed as a reaction to the stabbing, but said the incident reflects the violence among youth that the group of officials will try to curb.
Last night, Dixon walked several blocks in the Oakwood area, near Fifth and Oakwood streets SE, to see firsthand what problems are current and to emphasize the need for police foot patrols, she said. She assured residents that she would check back in 10 days to see whether police are regularly patrolling the area on foot.
Dixon and Fulwood played down the tension that surfaced after Dixon proposed trimming $13.5 million from the police budget in light of the city's budget crisis, a plan Fulwood has said could lead to more crime.
Dixon, who said last night she wants to hire more civilians for the department to free more officers for patrolling, said the task force could help reduce violence by having several agencies focus on improving the quality of life in high-crime areas of the city.
During her walk with Fulwood, Dixon saw a sidewalk and an alley strewn with garbage.
"There are things we can do better," Dixon said. "Trash collection, following up on vacant buildings and buildings with housing violations."
Fulwood and Dixon said last night that they are working together to get the most mileage out of the police department with available funds.
Fulwood said Dixon had given him authority to hire more civilians in the communications department, which would free uniformed officers to return to the street.