After a series of high-profile shootings, District officials said yesterday that they will take a broader approach to fighting crime in coming weeks by posting "Most Wanted" lists of criminals around the city, increasing enforcement of curfew laws, reviewing probation and sentencing procedures and cracking down on gangs.
"What you have to have is a multifaceted approach," said Mayor Anthony A. Williams (D).
Police Chief Charles H. Ramsey said the department will assemble a list of the most-wanted criminal suspects from each police district and will post their pictures around the city and on the World Wide Web. He predicted that the list would include about 30 people "who are really a menace to the community."
"We need to be better coordinated in terms of getting information out so people know who we're looking for," he said.
Ramsey also said he would instruct "focus mission teams" in each of the department's seven districts to concentrate on gang violence and to develop better intelligence on gang leaders.
"A lot of it is a combination of gangs and drugs," he said.
Ramsey said the department's summer mobile force--a group of 80 to 100 officers who volunteered for the detail--was scheduled to be on duty last night. But Ramsey said he would not rule out adding more patrols if the situation warrants.
"We'll monitor the situation every day, and we'll see what we have," he said. "It's difficult to anticipate. We'll have to keep our ear to the ground and monitor what's going on in the community."
The moves come after violence that shocked the city, including the wounding late Friday of a woman and baby in Southeast and the death last Monday of a woman who was ushering children to safety in Southeast after they heard gunfire.
Saturday night, police officials blanketed the city with 300 extra undercover and uniformed officers, and Williams toured neighborhoods where some of the shootings occurred.
Yesterday, Williams spoke about crime at a Washington National Cathedral service and again at the end of the annual fund-raising AIDS Ride at the Washington Monument.
Police reported eight shootings Friday night, including an attack by two masked gunmen that killed a man and wounded a woman and her 5-month-old son as they sat on an apartment building stoop in Southeast Washington. In Columbia Heights, four bystanders were shot when a gun battle broke out between feuding gangs after a party at the Latin American Youth Center, police said.
Williams said a court ruling that upheld the District's youth curfew law would allow police to keep teenagers from wandering the streets. He cautioned that before the increased enforcement goes into effect, however, other agencies will need to have plans in place to make sure "they have someplace to go. . . . It's a question of shelter."
Williams also said he would send staff members to Boston to examine steps that city has taken to combat gang crime.
At the core of Boston's effort has been extensive intelligence-gathering on gang activities, as well as academic research that has led police to concentrate pressure in particular areas, an approach Williams said he favors.
"They've done a great job in Boston. We're looking to go up there and look at what they've done and import it," Williams said. "You need to look at broader issues while you're stepping up enforcement.
"We're now at the point where we need to use this as a tool to really maintain a comprehensive approach," he said.
Williams said that the D.C. criminal justice coordinating committee, a group that includes members of the D.C. financial control board, the U.S. Justice Department and the mayor's office, will have an elevated profile in the coming days. The committee, he said, will be the focal point for new crime policies, and he called this something "we've wanted to do for a long time."
Some officers said that although Ramsey's decision to flood the streets with police officers over the weekend might help in the short term, they doubted it would bring lasting benefits.
"We can't be on every corner," said Officer Timothy Steffes, of the 6th District.
Many officers were brought in to work overtime Friday with little notice. Officer Carmen Pagan-Yates said she thought the last-minute order to work would hurt morale. The longer hours, she said, probably will wear out some officers who have to report to court regularly.
"How effective can you be when you're worn down?" she asked Saturday. Williams said such complaints do not worry him.
"By definition, public safety is a stressful job. . . . I'm sure they understand the urgency of the situation," he said. "We were elected to make the government work. Part of that is ensuring public safety."
Staff writer Allan Lengel contributed to this report.