These days, Steve Miller feels completely safe pushing his 15-month-old daughter in her stroller on a day trip to the Shepherd Park Neighborhood Library.
Such a mundane outing would have been out of the question more than a year ago; his Northwest Washington community was a setting for open-air drug dealing.
"It's a completely different feel on Georgia Avenue," Miller said in an interview last week.
In December 2003, an attempted drug robbery near Juniper Street and Georgia Avenue NW left a Silver Spring man dead and galvanized the community. Police Chief Charles H. Ramsey made a bold promise at a meeting of residents that within four months, his 4th District officers would eradicate open-air drug sales.
The Juniper Street market was a small-time affair compared with some more lethal and lucrative markets across the city. But what it lacked in volume, it made up for in durability, lasting for about two decades. It brought door-jarring burglars, thieves and addicts to the area from the city and the suburbs.
"There wasn't a large market, but it was a market that people knew about," said Hilton Burton, now the commander of the 4th District and formerly commander of the city's major narcotics unit.
Residents of single-family homes and rowhouses prodded police for change, and officials responded with a plan, increasing patrols in the area. Dealing dropped off, mostly fading away last year.
"The drug market has never come back. You've just got to call that a success," said D.C. Council member Adrian M. Fenty (D-Ward 4).
Fenty extended praise to the community for setting a high standard and to police and city workers who helped create a less crime-friendly environment.
Burton also credited other city agencies for helping to clear the neighborhood of abandoned cars and fix poor lighting. Gone are unlighted back alleys, cuts in chain-link fences and a garage that used to house dealing, residents said.
What has remained is a community that has seen scant dealing on the street, a regular foot patrol and a decrease in burglaries.
"A lot of the crime we had was driven by heroin addicts and crack addicts," Burton said.
Small indications of dealing have flared up since the spring of 2004, including drug needles being found on an elementary school playground. But police have kept listening to residents' concerns, some neighbors said.
Police officials said overall crime is down 50 percent in the immediate Police Service Area.
Fenty said he has asked police for similar written plans, with benchmarks and deadlines, along Kennedy Street and other areas. Burton said that this strategy has become a model for him and that having a written contract with the community provides accountability for his officers.
"This government can get things done when we put our minds to it," Fenty said. "The real goal is that we institutionalize that in the police department."