Copyright
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

. (page 16 of 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 16 of 18)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


I really think we need to look at that because, if we are able to
match — gain some additional resources for the Metropolitan Police
Department, which could put more police officers on the street,
which would lead to more arrests, then we also have to realize that
the entire criminal justice system should be able to avail itself of
additional resources as well. More arrests means more work for
this gentleman to my left on the bench, and that means that the
courts would need more resources. It also means there will be more
of a strain on the Department of Corrections. The whole discussion
and debate about what to do with Lorton is still on the table, but
in the meantime, while Lorton is under the control of the District
of Columbia, if we're going to increase the appropriations for our



26-242 - 96 - 6



150

police, we should look at making sure that Lorton has the tech-
nology and the manpower to absorb the additional strain and drain
on their resources.

I think this idea of information sharing is important. We put to-
gether — or the city put together — a Federal Crime Task Force
which you heard about — Chief Langston talked about it; Chief
Thomas talked about it — that worked beautifully. In the greenway
section of Ward 7, we would have a killing or shooting every week,
a killing once a month, sometimes more, and when this task force
was put together that included representatives from the DEA, FBI,
the Park Police, the Metropolitan Police Department — they went in
and in an intensive manner intervened in that community. We
didn't have a shooting, much less a killing, for a period of 4
months. These concentrated, unified, coordinated task forces work.
We have enough police personnel in various jurisdictions that could
come together, disseminate information, coordinate what they do,
and have some intensive, focused approach to certain problem
areas, and they end up having results.

So I think this whole idea of continuing to look at how we can
best coordinate these resources, and if it takes making sure that
the Park Police is fully funded or DEA or FBI, so that they can re-
lease some of their manpower in this effort, I think it's worthwhile
and I think the city benefits from it.

I want to talk, finally, about the area of grassroots crime preven-
tion and policing strategies. Harold Brazil talked about community
empowerment policing. He is absolutely right; this concept works
and it must be fully implemented here in the District.

Chief Thomas has made inroads of community empowerment po-
licing by mandating such training for officers, but, I'll tell you, com-
munity empowerment policing — and I don't have to tell you this,
Chief — it really works when the neighborhood officers know the
residents that they represent. I had an officer assigned to the sixth
district in my ward who has taken on his own community
empowerment policing approach, where he actually walks the
streets; he knows the residents; they know his cruiser and they
know him when he walks down the street. And when something
goes wrong, they call him; they beep him; they page him, and it
has gone a long way toward I guess improving the comfort level
more than anything else of the residents. In fact, when a new offi-
cer came in and stopped a couple of the young guys on the street,
he, the offiicer I'm referring to, came back the next day and apolo-
gized to the citizens, saying, "Well, that new offiicer didn't know
that Ms. Jones' grandson. I know Ms. Jones' grandson and I
wouldn't stop him."

But I think it helps a whole lot when the officers have that inti-
mate relationship neighborhood by neighborhood because they're
able to discern whether or not there is a new face or a new group
of guys hanging on the corner, or the guys playing basketball in
the alley are from the neighborhood and whether or not they're
troublemakers. It also goes a long way toward making sure the po-
lice don't waste resources in investigating some of these activities
if you have officers who come from the neighborhood and under-
stand how the neighborhood works.



151

This approach has been working in Paradise Parkside Housing
Development in my ward under the name of Co-Band, and Co-Band
has gone a long way because the oflficers not only patrol that area,
but they live in that area, and I really think in terms of dealing
with the public housing problems we need to have more police offi-
cers who actually reside in the neighborhood and offer some incen-
tives to them, because that can make a big difference.

Locally, I think that we should — I think Harold and I need to
talk about this more. This isn't really under your bailiwick, but I
think we should find some way to mandate that all administrative
functions be civilianized. I think that we have tended to reward of-
ficers by taking them off the streets and putting them in head-
quarters, and I think the reward really should be for them to help
train other officers or engage in more of the buddy system, where
they can show young officers how to really patrol. And I think that
we really on the council need to look at making sure that we don't
take our best officers and put them behind the desk.

There are other ideas that have been bandied around over the
past few years that I think would make some sense in the police
department: a young gang division, an illegal gun patrol, prostitu-
tion, a sex crime unit. These should not be viewed as special or
temporary task forces set up as public relation responses to high
profile cases that eventually quietly disappear, fade away. I really
think that we should look at institutionalizing some of these divi-
sions because that way there will be a focused energy from the de-
partment in these areas.

In our ward. Ward 7, we are looking at involving the community
in this policing effort by looking at the schools and the churches
as safe houses. We have over 100 places of worship in Ward 7, an
area that has about 70,000 people, and we are trying to encourage
churches to become safe houses, so that young people, senior citi-
zens know that they have a place of refuge that they can go when
they are being victimized by potential criminals. A number of these
additional community initiatives can be launched or housed by
churches. One church is taking it upon itself in my ward to insti-
tute its own confidential hotline, and neighbors have started to call
there, frankly, because they've had some concerns about calling the
hotline that exists with the police department. And I think that we
can have more of those kind of neighborhood-by-neighborhood ini-
tiatives, and they go a long way toward solving the problem.

In terms of legislation, the District of Columbia, as you know,
has one of the strictest gun laws in the country, and we also have
approved a teen curfew. I think Harold Brazil's efforts have to be
applauded. It is a small step, but it's a step in the right direction.
The curfew isn't aimed at criminalizing young people, but it's more
aimed at identifying what I would refer to as dysfunctional home
settings. Any time you have 10- and 11-year-olds out until 2 and
3 in the morning, then there is a problem at home somewhere.
There's a problem with supervision. And I think this curfew,
though it's being opposed by many civil liberties groups, is the
right type of legislation as young people are identified who may
have some problems at home, and we can work toward addressing
those problems.



152

I wanted to talk about a couple of other pieces of legislation. One
is a bill that I introduced that I hope will be marked up by the
council and passed that will provide community-based recourse for
citizens to eliminate nuisance properties such as crack houses from
their neighborhoods by petitioning directly to the courts. Right
now, before we can close a crack house — and it's really frustrating
for citizens when they know that there's a particular crack house
and everyone knows what's going on; they have to wait for there
to be some undercover investigation; they have to make sure that
people's rights aren't violated. It can take weeks or literally
months, and that doesn't help in terms of the confidence that the
people have in law enforcement.

This legislation is similar to what they do in Prince Georges
County, where once citizen groups have a particular home or resi-
dence identified as a nuisance, there would be an emergency hear-
ing down in Superior Court of the District of Columbia. The court
can hear from both sides, and then a restraining order can be is-
sued in a matter of a few days which will ask the residents of that
home to cease and desist from continuing to do that nuisance activ-
ity; i.e., sell drugs. Then the police can evict those individuals not
because they're engaged in so-called criminal activity, but because
they are continuing to foster a nuisance. I think this legislation can
provide some swift action in terms of us shutting down some of
these crack houses, and I think it would go a long way toward re-
storing the public's confidence in law enforcement.

We have already adopted stiffer penalties for illegal dumping and
increased resources for the police and the Department of Public
Works to combat that problem. I talk about dumping as it relates
to crime because the environment in which our community finds it-
self does contribute to criminal elements. If it's a rundown, shoddy-
looking neighborhood, it is more likely that other criminal elements
may emerge from that neighborhood.

We have, amazingly, over 200 dumpsites in the District of Co-
lumbia where people regularly dump trash, tires, and the like. We
have now instituted stiffer penalties to try to combat that dumping.
We've traced some of that illegal dumping to construction compa-
nies based in Maryland and Virginia, banks, and the like. Now we
can snatch driver's licenses and vehicles from individuals who are
involved in that dumping activity.

These are just a few of my suggestions and opinions. I think the
primary consideration must be to provide the District with the ade-
quate resources and support to allow existing programs to flourish
and to allow the community-based ideas time and the means to get
off the ground. The District in all of its uniqueness as the Nation's
Capital is, nevertheless, a microcosm of America. I've left this point
for last because, as we all know, we cannot legislate morality or
personal behavior, nor can we just throw money at serious prob-
lems without providing more leadership and examples necessary to
begin the process of changing the attitudes of those who have lost
for their future, particularly our youth.

I appreciate having the opportunity to testify before you, and if
there are any questions you may have, I'm willing to answer them
at this time.

Thank you.



153

[The prepared statement of Mr. Chavous follows:]

Prepared Statement of Kevin P. Chavous, Councilm ember, Council of the

District of Columbia

Chairman McCollum and members of the House Subcommittee on Crime, thank you for
affording me an opportunity to appear before you this morning to present my views on how best to
reduce crime in the District of Columbia.

My name is Kevin P. Chavous and I am the Ward 7 Representative to the Council of the
District of Columbia. My ward contains some of the best and the worst of what the "real"
Washington is all about. The communities that I represent in the far Southeast and Northeast
portions of the District have some of the most beautifiil natural landscai?es, communities, and homes
in the city. Ward 7 also contains neighborhoods that have been ravaged by poverty, violent crime,
drugs, and a collapse of family structures, personal morals, and resp)ect for human life.

As I look at how best to combat crime in the District, my comments will focus less on
specific funding levels or back-end punishment for crime, but rather on possible front-end preventive
measures and the eradication of the social and environmental conditions that have helped create an
atmosphere conducive for violence and crime in the nation's capitol.

Let me say at this point, in the strongest terms possible, that any discussion of crime in the
District of Columbia must be preceded by a frank and open examination of the culture of crime and
violence that has emerged in America. This continued trend toward violence is not endemic to the
nation's capitol or other urban centers, but indeed, is a national problem approaching epidemic
proportions that requires an expeditious national response.

In the aftermath of a senseless shooting in June of 1993, where six young children were
wounded in a gun attack at a swimming pool in my ward, I called upon President Clinton, in an
"Open Letter to the President," to convene a White House Conference on Violence in America. The
conference would have brought together national and local political leaders, social service providers,
judicid representatives, law enforcement officials, parents and youth to discuss the root causes of
crime and violence and to look at what communities around the country are doing to successfiilly
address public safety concerns.

To date there has been no response. This national approach must start at the highest levels
of government, and must be initiated immediately in a bi-partisan fashion. The Office of National
Drug Control Policy has conducted a few regional meetings to help formulate a "T^Iational Drug
Control Strategy" for the Clinton administration.



154

Page 2

However, to my knowledge, there has not been a comprehensive national forum on these
issues with the aim of developing grassroots solutions, aided by federal policy and financial
assistance, that will pool resources so that local governments and individual communities may
implement the programs that will work best for them.

The proliferation of crime and violence in the District of Columbia, while showing some
positive signs of decrease is still nonetheless an ever present concern. For instance, according to the
Metropolitan Police Department, in 1994, over 50,000 people were arrested in the District and
approximately 4,500 of those were juveniles. That accounts for just under ten-percent of the
District's population.

Despite a great deal of criticism, some of which is legitimate, I do say that the Metropolitan
Police Department has performed admirably under extremely difficult circumstances. Fomier Chief
Isaac Fulwood and current Chief Fred Thomas have both made tremendous strides over the years,
however, much remains to be done.

Many of the solutions to crime and violence have little to do with arresting law breakers and
ensuring their incarceration. We must attack the root causes of crime and violence on the front-end.
Generally, solutions can be found in a better educational system, improved job training, increased
economic and job development, humane social services (particularly for youth), and adequate
prevention programs at the absolute earliest stages of child and family development. I am pleased
to note that you and your colleagues have already begun to discuss these and other topics with
District residents and elected officials.

The following are recommendations that should be considered for possible legislative,
administrative and/or managerial refonns to change existing approaches to public safety challenges
in the District of Columbia. Admittedly, some of the suggestions I am about to present are not for
Congress to act upon. Rather these proposals form a working framework for possible solutions that
can be addressed by the community, MPD, the Mayor and the Council. 1 cannot, however, claim
complete ownership of many of these ideas. Several of these suggestions come from the Ward 7
Public Safety Task force, comprised entirely of Ward 7 residents, and was chaired by Chief Fulwood
and former Fire Chief Ray Alfred. This task force was convened after another tragic shooting in my
ward in which an innocent four-year-old child was killed.



155



Page 3

Federal Rc sourcca and Cooperation

♦ Special Congressional Appropriation to the Metropolitan Police Department . If Congress
is going to commit to ensuring that the District experiences an appreciable reduction in
crime, I suggest that a special appropriation be made to MPD to hire additional officers,

. purchase badly needed equipment and new technology. Chief Thomas has outlined a number
of technological improvements that will enhance the department's efficiency. The cost to
complete these improvements and rebuild the force to previously authorized levels should
not be held against current spending ceilings imposed for the District.

♦ Relax Access to Federal Crime Prevention Aid and Other Funding . Given the District's dire
financial condition, its ability to successfully apply for all federal grants and aid that it is
eligible for has been impaired. By relaxing certain amplication and other grant requirements,
many of the dollars earmarked imder the Crime Reduction Bills of 1994 and 1995, as well
as other health, human service, and community development grant programs can be given
directly to the Metropolitan Police Department, Department of Corrections, the D.C. Courts
and other agencies for badly needed technology, additional manpower and equipment. This
program should be similar to the initiative promoted by Transportation Secretary Frederico
Pena that would release federal highway funds to the D.C. Department of Public Works
without matching funds and other normal requirements.

♦ Mandate Prot ocol's for Information Sharing Between Federal Law Enforcement and District
Agency's . Often, District officials are not apprised of federal initiatives in a timely manner.
Further, useful information often is not shared because there is no institutionalized protocol
for disseminating the information. This lack of communication and coordination often leads
to a drain on DC police personnel and causes budgetary overages.

♦ Explore Expanded Use of D.C. National Ciu^ (\ j> pd Other Military Personnel to Supp ort
Police Efforts . Expand the use of the National Guard and other military as appropriate,
particularly during the summer months, to work with DC law enforcement by supplying
additional equipment, training, and support.



156



Page 4

Grassroots Crime Prcvtntion/Po licing Strategies

♦ Community Fmpowerment Policing (CEP) . This concept must be fully implemented in the
District. Chief Thomas has made inroads with CEP by mandating training for officers.
However, for community empowerment and community-based policing to be effective, the
entire culture of District government must be attuned to supporting the effort.

Law enforcement cannot make the program work without the support and input of all
agencies of government that impact the social well-being and physical envirorunent of the
residents.

♦ Mandate That All Administrative Functions Be Civilianized (except for absolutely essential
purposes that require the services of a sworn officer). This will increase the number of
available officers for patrol duty on the street. Again, many of these functions have been
civilianized, however, as the District budget continues to shrink, so does the department's
ability to bring on more civilians for administrative positions.

♦ Coordinate local resources . All EXT agencies should be networked to better coordinate inter-
governmental activity among, MPD, Corrections, Court System, Dept. of Human Services,
Youth Services Administration, Department of Public and Assisted Housing, Dept. of
Recreation, and D.C. Public Schools.

♦ Permanent Special Patrols/Task Forces for All Areas of Citv . The following special outfits
should be coordinated on a permanent basis: Youth Gang Division, Illegal Gun Patrol,
Prostitution, Sex Crime Unit. These should not be special or temporary task forces set-up
as PR responses to high profile cases that then quietly disappear after attention fades away.

♦ Proactive Community Mobilization . Community leaders as well as elected officials must
stop waiting for tragedies to occur before they get actively involved in the process of solving
community-based problems. We must continue to work with local residents, the police, and
others to impress upon all residents of the District that rampant drugs, crime, and violence
will no longer be tolerated.



157



Pages

♦ Church Safehouses . In Ward 7 alone, there are nearly 100 places of worship. We must
encourage these institutions to participate more fully in the civic life of the communities in
which they are located. By servicing as "safehouses" churches will provide young children
with a place of refuge and/or recreation. Further, a number of additional community
initiatives can be launched by, or housed at the various churches.

Legislative Proposals

The District of Columbia already has one of the strictest gun laws in the country. Further,
we at the Council have just approved a teen curfew. Thanks to my colleague Harold Brazil's efforts,
this will provide just one more small tool to help curb some of the violence in the District,
particularly among youth. Although this legislation is being opposed by some civil liberties groups,
we feel that this is the right kind of legislation to keq) as many young people as possible of the street
and out of harms way.

Other legislative remedies that impact on the environmental and social factors that cause
crime include:

Providing community-based recourse for citizens to eliminate nuisance properties
such as Crack Houses from neighborhoods by petitioning the courts directly. This
would allow community groups to bring civil action against landlords and specific
tenants if a nuisance can be proven. Also, legislation should provide swift
authorization of housing and/or health officials to close and board such properties if
deemed necessary.

Stiifer penalties for illegal dumping and increased resources for the police and
Department of Public Works to combat the problem, f)articularly dumping by
suburban haulers that dump on District streets rather than pay dumping fees.

These are but a few of the many suggestions that can be employed to fight crime in the
District. In my opinion, the primary consideration must be to provide the District with adequate
resources and support to allow existing programs to flourish and to allow community based ideas
time and the means to get off the ground.



158

Page 6

Our communities are full of talented, caring individuals that all share a common goal~to
make the District a safer place. In addition to the influx of much needed financial and technological
resources, we must provide the moral and spiritual leadership to our residents that has somehow
disappeared from so many homes and neighborhoods.

The District in all of its uniqueness as the nation's capitol is nevertheless a microcosm of
America. I have left this point for last because, as we all know, we cannot legislate morality or
personal behavior. Nor can we just throw money at serious problems without providing the moral
leadership and examples necessary to began the process of changing the attitudes of those that have
lost hope for the future, particularly our youth.

I believe that the efforts of the elected leadership of the District, our hard working police
ofiBcers, and our residents will ultimately stem the tide of crime and violence in our communities.
There are countless instances where young people are excelling in positive activities, communities
are embracing their children and providing sound parental guidance and leadership, and of the
District government, particularly our police responding quickly, professionally, and compassionately
to the many needs of our residents. Unfortunately, these are not the images that are seen each day
in the newspapers or on local television, but they are the norm.

With Congressional support, I am confident that the District will soon turn the comer to a
lasting reduction in crime and violence. Again, thank you for proving me the opportunity to present
my views to the Committee. I am available to respond to any questions you may have.



159

Mr. Heineman. Thank you very much, Mr. Chavous. I'm glad to
see your involvement, your deep involvement, in this.

Let me say that the witnesses will have 10 working days so that
any additional written testimony may be submitted.

We do have probably 12 minutes left for a vote. Mr. Coble, do
you have any questions for

Mr. Coble. I'll be very brief, Mr. Chairman.

Gentlemen, I thank you all for being here.

Judge, you were called by Mr. Chavous "legendary and a long


1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 16 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 16 of 18)