The July 4 Metro story "Deaths Highlight Mayor's Strained Community Relations" reported that D.C. Mayor Anthony Williams had "upset" Latino community leaders and myself "by not inviting them to come along" on a community walkthrough following shootings the night before.

That characterization trivializes our concerns and misses the point.

What upset us was not the absence of an invitation. What upset us was the lack of engagement with major community concerns about violence and tragedy. Police Chief Charles Ramsey has acknowledged that the principles of community policing, for which he is an advocate, were not utilized in this incident. Instead, the response was limited to obviously important yet traditional crime-solving -- "whodunit stuff," as he put it -- and a highly publicized walk around in a neighborhood blocks from the one in which the shootings occurred.

Meanwhile, there had been no direct contact with those involved in the tragedy.

Imagine the trauma inflicted by 10 shots fired randomly with a semiautomatic weapon into a crowd of teenagers who had just left a party on a warm Friday night at a community-based organization, not only on the five persons who were injured but also on everyone who was there. And yet there was no contact, no opportunity of engagement on the various aspects of these shootings.

Chief Ramsey has said repeatedly that community policing can work only if there is trust. Trust is built through engagement and participation. On that weekend, nothing like it happened.


Council Member (D-Ward 1)

Council of the District of Columbia