United States. Congress. House. Committee on the J.

Combating crime in the District of Columbia : hearing before the Subcommittee on Crime of the Committee on the Judiciary, House of Representatives, One Hundred Fourth Congress, first session, June 22, 1995 online

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wished and terrorizing at will. They spread the poison of drugs
and guns and the violence it inevitably brings, wreaking havoc
on the community.

The Orange Hat Coalition has been instrumental in getting
many of these things off the street. They were removed from


the community with the help of the Police Department and the
F.B.I. The citizens realize that we need to take back our
neighborhoods, to make them safe for men and women to walk in,
for children to play in. Civil liberties are not just for
accused criminals, but are, first and foremost, for law abiding
citizens. One of those civil liberties is the freedom to walk
freely and without fear in one's own neighborhood.

The Orange Hat Coalitions are making that difference around
the city. We have reclaimed most of our streets and
neighborhoods from open air markets.

In the 80 's and early 90 's, open air drug markets, were
everyone, in every neighborhood and section, but in 1995 an
open air drug market is almost a thing of the past.

The once escalating crime rate in Washington, D.C., has
declined and in some areas the decline is substantial. The
progress we have made against crime is largely a result of a
strong effort by law enforcement, both local and federal, with
outstanding commitment by D.C. National Guard which provided
flood lights and manpower. The effort of General Davis Commander
of the DC Guard has been outstanding. From the very conception
of the Orange Hatters, Deputy Chief Joyce Leland, D.C. Police
Department has helped make this venture a success and the
Washington Bureau of the F.B.I, for day to day help in our

Metro Orange Coalition receives no government funds, local
or federal. These efforts can be duplicated throughout the
country at minimum monetary cost. We are willing and able to
help all that need it whatever "State" they may live.



^^H^k Where Caring People Meet ^KB^


In August 1988 a small group of concerned neighbora in the
Fairlawn section of Southeast Washington, D.C., joined together
to organize an effective Neighborhood Watch progreim to combat the
large numbers of youths selling drugs from their street corners.
An equally distressing problem was the offspring of these
activities — rajnpant increase in robberies and burglaries,
vehicular traffic, and crack houses operating throughout the

At that time, police were not regularly patrolling the
neighborhood and the "blue and white" response to citizens' calls
reporting crimes was, at best, slow. However, the neighbors soon
realized it was unreasonable to blame police for community
problems since everyone living in the neighborhood was
collectively responsible for allowing the criminal activity to
get out of hand.\ Pulling together, the determined group of
neighbors, renters as well as home owners, organized a successful
Rally and AntiDrug March in the Fairlawn area of Anacostia.

Eighteen people attended the initial organizational meeting
to establish a Neighborhood Watch Patrol; 8 of them pledged to
begin walking their streets the following week. At subsequent
meetings that were held in an open field near a busy bus stop,
flyers and drug information were distif'ibuted to people getting on
and off buses and to passersby. By September 21 the Coalition
membership had grown to 50 people and the group's name was
changed to Fairlawn Coalition.

When Captain Beheler of the Seventh Police District — with
Deputy Chief Joyce Leland's encouragement — joined forces witii the
Coalition in October, the foundation for effective citizen/police
cooperation was laid. Seventh District officers provided
training and information on drug-related criminal activities.
Officers accompanied Coalition members during patrols.

Orange Hats first appeared on the neighborhood streets on
March 15, 1989, both as a symbol and rallying spirit for
neighbors working together to save and improve their community
and as a way for Coalition members to identify one another at

As word of Fairlawn 's Coalition success spread throughout
the City, Coalition members were asked to assist other
neighborhoods form similar Orange Hat groups.

The Metro Orange Coalition was subsequently organized early
in 1990 to help coordinate the efforts of all Orange Hat
Coalitions on a metropolitan-wide basis and to provide a forum to
exchange .news and views. The Coalition provides neighborhood
patrollers to get to know one another, to network.


To encourage residents to become involved in anti-drug
activities, members of the -Fairlawn Coalition believe it is
important to show them what 'is actually going on in the
community. People who attend meetings are taken on a walk
through the area to see the problems to help them understand the
impact drug activity is having on their neighborhood.

When asked to help other communities organize against
illegal drug activities, the Fairlawn Coalition educates them
about the strategies that they have been using successfully.
Though some are afraid of drug dealers, Coalition members
emphasize that there is safety in numbers and they challenge and
coax residents to take action. The drugs dealers depend on
citizens inertia from remaining afraid. Once citizens form a
group and take power, they realize that they have power to run
the drug dealers out of their neighborhoods and they no longer
fear them.

Resources ;

Police officers were assigned to protect residents as they
patrolled the neighborhood and the community/police relationship
improved as police learned that residents were determined to take
back their neighborhoods. Residents and police now cooperate:
Residents provide information about suspicious activity and see
that police act on the information; uniformed police offers
regularly accompany the patrol; undercover police officers often
walk with residents on patrol; police refer residents of other
neighborhoods to The Metro Orange Coalition for help in
organizing patrols.

Advice to Others; I

The Metro Orange Coalition believes that a critical element
of the group's success is their commitment to change the
environment they live in. We encourage residents in other
communities to get involved and "believe that each individual can
make a difference."


Video Camcorders have been an important tool. They have
been used to rid communities of illegal drug activities. They
are set up on street corners with the groups of orange hatters
recording vehicular and pedestrian traffic moving in and out of
drug markets. Information is turned over to law enforcement.

Radios are used by group members to communicate between
different locations.

Orange hats and jackets are used to identify the group
members .

26-?4? - qe - A


Reclaiming the Streets

Citizen Patrols:
The \eighborlv
Thing to Do ^

I'm getting Chm«« over
Oie CB. so 1 aaiust the
squelch. It's probablv conung
iron Qujutown 15 Wodti
away, wbere another Oranje
Hats group is on patrol.

Mv oeigbhors and 1 are
staoaing on the comer of 2nd
and S streets NW (eeiing
powertui- We are urtian
guerrillas, the occupying (orot-
We are icdamung our turi
trom the drug dealers.

While we stand oo our
coraer. nobody txrys drugs.
The dealers stand around.
coniounded. Time passes, and
they don't make any nxjney.
They have to make nxxiey to
p>y their suppliers, and they
know what happens if they
doo'L One youth was killed oa
this bkxM last winter. Mayt>e
be didn't pay his suppber.

Twelve years ago. when I
moved into this tnangular
Northwest neighborhood
bounded by Rhode Island and
Flonda avenues and North Capitol Street, it
was a sedate place, populated by the mostly
blacK and middle-class. Manv residents were
reared homeowners. Streets and alleys were
dean. Neighbors cut grass lor one other. There
were no boarded-up houses.

But It seems to take bttle for a neighborhood
to slip mto disarray. About eight months ago.
hartl-eyed youths started selling drugs out on
the corner. Trash accumulated. Parking
became scarce. Traffic increased. Viheu we
drove home at night, dealers eved us brazenlv.
We stayed mside and became afraid, strangers
on our own block.

We tried reporting the drug-selling acuvity.
Police woukl respond to our calls — sometimes.
Thev would put dealers up against cars and
search them or search the trasn-strewTi comer
for drugs. They never found anv. And wnen the
pobce left, tfie dealers came back.

We learned there was not much more police
could do. But we also leamefl [.lat we rrjgnt be
able to be eaeoive where the pouce
weren't — we could interrupt the drug

A lew weeks ago. on our lirst nignt out as
Orange Hats, we occupied the comer oi Jnd
and S The dealers moved to a nearbv
comer and eve".irs.

though, are the ones with cJiildren in the hack
apparently, children make good cove:.

At about 9:30. a bmousine pauses at the
comer, men catching sight of us. picks up
speea ana disappears. 1 glimpse satin go«-ns
and tuxedos. What's a wedding party oooie
here on a Tuesday mght. I wonoer aloud. The
other Orange hats bugh at me. Not a wwJcunc
pnnv — the occupants of the bmo are bound tor
the high scnooi prom. 1 am stui rune

KneeH^p says we are responsible tor our
streets. When we run rrom our cars to our
air-condiiioned bving rooms, we enecti>*v
abandon our neighborhood. Cnmuiab. he says,
bve aoanaoned are.i;

li wasn't alwavs this w-ay. Respcnsibif
citirens once spent evenings on porch

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 10 12 13 14 15 16 17 18

Online LibraryUnited States. Congress. House. Committee on the JCombating crime in the District of Columbia : hearing before the Subcommittee on Crime of the Committee on the Judiciary, House of Representatives, One Hundred Fourth Congress, first session, June 22, 1995 → online text (page 10 of 18)