PSA 404/407 meeting notes

Tonight was the PSA 404 & 407 meeting at 801 Shepherd Street. A larger turnout of residents this time, about 18 or so, each with concerns or questions.

The biggest concerns were the shootings, drug dealing, public drinking and loitering by people residents considered “suspicious.” (For example, suspicious is driving up in an alley in a Maryland car, parking for 20 mins while people come to the car window, then driving off.)

The new lieutenant for PSA 404, Lieutenant Raul Figueras, arrived early and came with a chart showing crime stats for the past 30 days and calendar year. (Picture of the chart is below). Also in attendance was Officer Motley, Lt. Van Crawford (PSA 407 manager) and ANC 4C commissioners Zach Teutsch, Rickey Williams and Joe Martin. 

Looking at the stats, Lt. Figueras said robbery was down in the winter for the obvious reason that it’s cold out, so less people are on the streets. Consequently, theft from auto goes up, as it’s an easier crime of opportunity (especially gifts during the holidays).  Burglary also tends to go up during the daytime (thieves aren’t interested in meeting you when you’re home at night, but when you’re at work and the house is empty… prime time burgle time). Lt. Figueras mentioned that MPD will come out and do a security assessment of your home, free of charge. Contact 4D headquarters for more info.

Lieutenant Raul Figueras PSA 404 manager. Officer Motley in the back.

We went through some of the other numbers from the chart: the sex abuse cases were, unfortunately, mainly “intra-family issues, generally with young family members.” Stolen auto was up, and like theft from auto, is mainly a crime of opportunity. 

Lt. Figueras explained the difference between “robbery” and “theft” as a category of crime. Pretty interesting. Robbery is when you, as the hypothetical victim, are in control of an item or object and it is taken from you (a one-on-one crime). Theft is when your property is taken while it out of your possession. (So if you leave your hypothetical iPhone on a table and it’s stolen, that’s theft. If someone grabs it from your hand, that’s robbery. Hypothetically speaking, you need to be more careful…)

A resident asked about the spate of shootings at 4th and Taylor & Upshur Streets. There has been four shootings this year, once recently near 4100 Taylor Street. Lt Crawford said they were in contact with the owner. (Interesting side note… if someone shoots a bullet through your window, that’s only “destruction of private property.” Just like throwing a rock. I thought “attempted murder” or “mayhem” would be more apt, but I digress…) 

Lt. Van Crawford, PSA 407 manager.

Lt. Crawford, in ever his straightforward style, said “Look, you just want to know: ‘Is my neighborhood safe,’ right?” 

The answer, according to Crawford, is yes. Crimes against persons are down for the year, and the shootings seem to revolve around 2-3 young guys that MPD is aware of (he wasn’t able to share more info).

A resident said that he calls 911 pretty often as he witnesses drug dealing near his home in the Taylor area. He wanted to know what more he could do. “Is calling 911 making any kind of difference?” he asked.

“Taylor, Webster, Varnum, they’re a ‘hot area,’” Crawford said. “When you see something, call 911. We have an idea of who we’re looking for, so continue to do what you’re doing. Call.”

Officer Motley said that MPD really recommends cameras for home safety. This discussion went on a for a bit, but suffice it to say, cameras are best for after the fact to know what happened in your home, or to help MPD if you have street-facing cameras. One resident who lives near Rock Creek Church Road and Upshur has been able to provide MPD with footage of several crimes in the immediate area of his house, as he has cameras on the front and back. “And I’ve only lived here a year!” he said.

Another resident cited concerns if she provided MPD with video, wanting to ensure her name wasn’t given out. (Lt. Crawford and I briefly touched upon the idea of some type of secure registry for MPD of resident cameras, so they knew where to check when crimes are committed… I still think this is a good idea.)

I asked about two issues on behalf of residents who contacted me today. One was a concern about a house and a church by the Georgia Ave metro where this resident believed active drug dealing was occurring. I didn’t get a good answer from MPD on this issue, and I think it needs the ANC 4C commissioner for the area and Lt Crawford to contact the church and see if the local pastor can help deal with the issue of who may be (or may not be) dealing drugs on the church’s property (apparently they own the next door residence as well). I’ve already contacted the ANC commissioner, for what it’s worth.

The other issue was the recent spate of robberies (about 15) in the last few days along Kennedy, Van Buren, Buchanan, Gallatin, Sheridan, Quincy… Again, no real data on this. Some of the crimes occurred outside of 404 & 407, so I think concerns about these robberies (most with a handgun or a knife) should be addressed with Commander Manlapaz or Inspector Parker, who oversee the  fourth district.

Commissioner Teutsch asked about a recent shooting (10 days ago) in an alley around 13th/14th Streets and Randolph. A man was selling a motorcycle and was robbed instead (he listed the motorcycle on Craigslist, and instead of making a sale, got shot at). MPD detectives are tracking down the suspect, no other info was available.

Meeting ended after an hour. I think it was a good turnout of concerned citizens. The smaller number is manageable, but I do recommend you try to attend these PSA meetings. The next one is August 27th.

Oh, and turns out Lt. Crawford’s retires in September sometime, not June… but he’ll be taking some of his use-or-lose leave over the summer.

Any questions, contact me.

Lt. Figueras:
Lt. Crawford:

Drew Schneider

Local DC blogger in Petworth, Washington DC.

submit to reddit