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Brookland group criticizes MPD efforts

(Published July 31, 2000)

By KATE ALEXANDER

Staff Writer

Angry Brookland residents scoff at police contentions that a rash of similar crimes in the area are unrelated and not indicative of a larger problem.

Fifth District Lt. Garret Baxter said police are more concerned about the neighbors’ perception of a problem rather than the possibility that these crimes may signal a violent trend.

"If they have the perception (that there is more crime), then it is a problem," Baxter said after a July 25 meeting of the Brookland Neighborhood Safety Association.

Several group members, although reserved during the meeting, harshly criticized police afterwards.

"It is disingenuous for them to claim that because (crimes) are down a little bit since last year it is our misperception," said Darcy Flynn, a two-year resident of the Northeast Washington neighborhood and co-founder of the association. "This is unbelievable given the brutality of the incidents."

The Brookland Neighborhood Safety Association formed in early June after an armed robbery of two Catholic University students who lived in the neighborhood, Flynn said. The robbery occurred on the tail of a series of 30 burglaries within the neighborhood the previous fall and highly publicized neighborhood outrage in response to public drunkenness and rowdiness by Catholic University students, which association leaders said galvanized the community.

The association currently has 200 people on its mailing list, Flynn said.

In addition to the two recent robberies that police presume to be related, the neighbors point to several other incidents that have occurred since January, all of which involve a group of four to five armed teenagers, as evidence of a growing problem.

Joan Corboy, a longtime Brookland resident, expressed her concern about the violent nature of the crimes.

"I am worried that one of these times somebody will be shot," she said, a sentiment echoed by others during the meeting.

Baxter attended the meeting to brief the residents on police efforts to apprehend the assailants and assuage fears of increasing crime. Those efforts include increasing patrols in the area and tracking crime statistics for incidents solely within the neighborhood’s defined area.

The tracking figures presented at the meeting indicated that robbery, assault and burglary since June 1, when the neighborhood group first expressed its concern, were down more than 50 percent when compared to the same period last year. However, police statistics that cover crimes since this January show both robbery and assault with a dangerous weapon in the same defined area have increased more than 30 percent compared to last year’s figures.

Copyright 2000, The Common Denominator