WASHINGTON, DC – Residents of a suburban neighborhood in Northeast DC were subjected to a gun battle Friday evening.
Other people are seen running away as the shooters position themselves behind cover and continue to engage. One shooter appears to be wounded.
As the sound of sirens fades in, the shooting ceases. One shooter is seen hiding his weapon inside a car parked on the street, and the participants disperse. The camera field is clear of movement as the police arrive on scene.
In response to the increasing violent crime in 2019, Mayor Bowser established the Fall Crime Prevention Initiative
in October of 2019, which was intended to imitate her Summer Crime Prevention Initiative of 2019 in its use of “increased police presence and crime-fighting technology,” with focus on neighborhoods with the most violence.
The initiative also directed a “coordinated effort” among departments, to include services and support in other areas, such as mental health and substance abuse.
During the Summer Crime Prevention Initiative, “crime fell significantly
” in the areas of focus, where there were “more cops on the streets.”
In December 2019, two months after the implementation of the FCPI, Mayor Bowser announced:
“The Fall Crime Prevention Initiative has proven successful in driving down crime in the targeted areas and extending the program will help us build on that progress as we head into the new year.”
“Between October 14 and December 10, violent crime in FCPI areas decreased three percent, property crime decreased 22%, and total crime decreased 19% when compared to the same period in 2018.”
In 2020, the Metropolitan Police Department again announced
the continuance of the initiative programs, in the form of the 2020 Summer Crime Prevention Initiative.
As with previous iterations, focus again resided on the areas with the most violence and gun crimes, and resources were thrown behind approaching “repeat violent offenders through intelligence, tactical operations, gun recovery, technology, and patrol enforcement.”
In fact, her submitted budget for 2021 shows a 3% increase to the Metropolitan Police Department over previous funding, for a total of $578 million
Metropolitan Police Chief Peter Newsham “attributed the department’s notorious use of excessive force in the 1990’s to a lack of proper funding, adding that sufficient funds are necessary for recruiting the best people and providing training in implicit bias, cultural competency and de-escalation techniques.”
Last week, Newsham informed council members
that the Metropolitan Police Department “has undergone 20 years of reform, turning around an agency that in the 1990’s led the nation in shootings by officers.”
With regards to police funding, Newsham warned
at a budget hearing that “underfunded police agencies are less accountable and have less money for training and programs that teach de-escalation, recognizing implicit bias and cultural sensitivity. The result, he said, could make issues of excessive force even worse.”
Newsham also notes that, as 91%
of the budget is earmarked for salary and benefits, budget cuts would necessarily require cuts in personnel.
“To all of a sudden dramatically reduce the number of officers in our city without a plan of how we’re going to handle the calls for service and the violence is a little scary for me.”
So it appears that the Mayor of DC and the Metropolitan Police Chief see attention to police funding, and increased police presence, as a recipe for success when addressing issues of community violence and even the potential use of excessive force by law enforcement.
Success has been borne out by reported decreases in violent crime rates, particularly in areas selected for Crime Prevention Initiative focus due to their high incidence of violent crime.
However, apparently many in the DC community, along with council members, disagree with this approach. A virtual public hearing
was held Monday by the DC council committee to discuss the proposed budget for the Metropolitan Police Department.
Charles Allen, Chairman of the Committee on the Judiciary and Public Safety, reported receiving “far more public input than ever before” on this issue, to the tune of over 15,000 testimonials by phone, through video, and in writing, most of which favored cutting police funding
Sean Blackmon, of the Stop Police Terror Project DC, found himself at odds with the previous successes of the Crime Prevention Initiatives, and the recommendations by Chief Newsham, by stating at the hearing,
“More police in our community do not make us safer; in fact, they make us less safe. When we say ‘Defund the D.C. police,’ we’re talking about an intentional reinvestment in community programs like the Office of Neighborhood Safety and Engagement.”
In the home surveillance video above, shooting activity quickly wound down as the sirens approached.
Increased police presence through the Crime Prevention Initiatives has been documented to have aided in reducing violent crime in the most violent neighborhoods in the DC area. Adequate budgets have allowed DC Metro to turn around a once criticized methodology of police physical response.
And yet, DC community representatives and residents call for what can only be termed a reduction in proven safety methods as they seek to reduce police presence on their streets.
If they get their wish, it may be that future shootouts are no longer curtailed by the mere sound of sirens, and will continue to play out, much to the detriment of innocent people nearby.
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