Welcome to ANC1A, Lt. Robinson!

RobinsonI (this is Dan writing here — others are welcome to submit posts to this blog too!) met yesterday for an hour with Lt. Michelle Robinson, who heads up PSA 409 (see this post for an explanation of what a PSA is and other local policing fundamentals).

Lt. Robinson took over this command one or two months ago from Lt. Angela Cousins, and she oversees the sergeants and officers who patrol the northern half of 1A.

As Chair of 1A’s Public Safety Committee I look forward to working with Lt. Robinson.  I am grateful for her work and leadership within MPD since she joined the force in 1990.  She most recently served as the head of the Domestic Violence Unit for the city as a whole.  I have already found her to be responsive by email (you can reach her at michelle.robinson@dc.gov, but please call 911 instead in any emergency, and 311 for non-police services)

We drew a little map on notebook paper and started discussing the geography of the neighborhood.

Lt. Robinson has three initial messages for neighbors in the area:

  1. She is committed to your safety and would love your collaboration and communication.  Your eyes and ears and gut feelings and concerns are incredibly helpful and she is listening — so please be in touch!  You can also get to know MPD better by signing up for a 4-hour ride-along with an officer at any time.
  2. The next joint PSA 409/302 MPD and Community public safety meeting will be October 19, 2016 — mark your calendars!  And when you see officers before then, if you feel so inclined please say thank you for their service — it really helps encourage the officers when they feel that the community gets that they care.
  3. Not everyone understands that MPD does not solve many of the issues that people are often asking officers for help with — whether it is broken streetlights, mediating a (non-violent) dispute, mental health support, etc.  There are other DC agencies for all of these things.  At the same time the police officers are often the most visible points of contact in the city.  Therefore Lt. Robinson agreed that she will work on putting together a quick reference list of contact points in other agencies that can handle common concerns, and have that list available for officers to look at and help citizens know who best to contact.  Of course you can also call 311 for most issues.

I really appreciated Lt. Robinson’s engaging attitude.  I believe she is going to work hard for our neighborhood every day.  She is in a learning mode as she gets up to speed on her new command, and you can help her do her job by staying engaged and by communicating.

Welcome to ANC1A, Lt. Robinson!

2016 — First Half Crime Stats

ANC1A – 2016 First Half Stats: Most Crime Down, Guns Up

Dear neighbors, here are the crime statistics for our neighborhood (ANC1A — Columbia Heights and Park View) in the first half of this year, compared to the same time period in the past three years.  The numbers do not themselves tell a full story (behind each number is a very human story, and not every crime is reported) — yet they are a useful starting point for understanding where we are now, and to think about it in perspective over time:


We can see quite a bit of good news compared to last year:

First Half 2016 compared to First Half 2015

  • Total violent crime is down, including the categories of homicide, sex abuse, and robbery (even if robbery-gun and robbery are added together)
  • Total property crime is down, most notably theft f/ auto and theft/other
  • The overall crime count is the lowest it has been January-February, last few years

There are are also some very concerning trends compared to last year, most notably:

  • Robberies and assaults with guns are up
  • Burglaries are up
  • The homicide rate was not zero, which is the only homicide number to truly celebrate for our neighborhood IMHO.  (Also note that since this analysis is January-June, it does not include a recent homicide July 30, 2016 on 14th Street).

First Half 2016 in multi-year perspective

Looking back a few years helps us gain some additional perspective.  (Please note that every time I mention a year here, I will only be referring to the first six months of that year.)  2015 had a very tough first half of a year, and so did 2013.  In many ways this year, 2016, looks more like 2014.  Across the last several years we see ups and downs across different types of crime, rather than a simple story of improvement or decline.

Last year’s homicide rate stands out as horrible, and this year’s back closer to average.  Despite rising somewhat last year, robberies have fallen in frequency to about half the number reached in a scary 2013.  Both of these reflect movements overall in the right direction.

Unfortunately, looking farther back also highlights that the rise in gun-related activity is not just from last year to this year — robberies with guns are back near 2013 levels, and assaults with guns are higher than they have been at any other first-half of the year in the period.

The uptick in robberies puts us only slightly higher now than the 42.5 average for the period.

What does this mean?

Most simply, these statistics show us that anyone trying to paint either a very rosy or very dismal view of the direction of crime trends in the neighborhood over the past few years is not telling a sufficiently nuanced story.  There are things to celebrate, and also trends to stay vigilant about.

Of course, if we look at a longer historical perspective, we are still in quite good shape.  For example, while DC’s overall homicide rate of 162 in 2015 (full year) was rightfully concerning compared to 105 in 2014, neither is in the ballpark of the 397 experienced in 1996, 20 years ago.

Currently, the gun trend seems particularly concerning, although it is important to keep in mind that with such low base numbers, it is also nothing to panic about.  22 instances of robberies with a gun means that in our whole area across six months, with approximately 24,000 residents in our ANC and many more people who pass through the area, there is a report of being robbed with a gun an average of less than one person once a week.  Yet we can do better, and we should ask ourselves how that better can be achieved.

Stay tuned on this blog for further discussion of highlights to celebrate and lowlights to discuss in our area.

2016 — First Half Crime Stats

Police Fundamentals in 1A

PSAs 409 and 302

The Metropolitan Police Department (MPD)’s coverage of the ANC1A area (Columbia Heights and Park View) is divided into two police Police Service Areas (PSAs), 409 and 302.  Here is a good map of this division.

Each PSA has a Lieutenant in charge.   PSA 409 is currently led by Lt. Robinson (michelle.robinson@dc.gov) and PSA 302 is led by Lt. Hodge (mark.hodge@dc.gov).

There is usually a joint meeting between 409/302 for the public, held quarterly at the 4th District Substation located at 750 Park Rd. NW.  The last such meeting was in June 2016, so the next one should be in September 2016.

If you have a notably positive or negative experience with your local police, I recommend contacting your Lt. by email.  When you reach out to your Lt., please feel free to cc the Chair of the 1A Public Safety Committee, currently Dan Kornfield (danielkornfield@yahoo.com), and your ANC Commissioner.

Our local officers should absolutely be held accountable for their interactions with citizens.  Please also remember to say a sincere “thank you” when you have a positive experience, or just say “thank you for your service, I really appreciate it” when you pass an officer on the sidewalk.  Please keep in mind that the police put their lives on the line for our safety, and often work night shifts or in uncomfortable weather, and too rarely get thanked.  Even if an officer behaves in a frustrating way, they still deserve to be addressed respectfully — as do each of us.

Underneath the Lt., each PSA also has three Sergeants, which lead the three shifts (morning, evening, and night).  If you tend to have a particular issue in your area during roughly the same time of day or night, you may want to ask your Lt. which Sergeant you should be in touch with to report the patterns that you are seeing.

Calling 911

Whenever you have something to report that you have recently seen/experienced, please call 911.  In DC, 911 is not just for active emergencies.  Even if the event is basically over, it is worth calling, because MPD uses 911 stats to help determine which areas to patrol more intensively.  If people do not call, MPD will not have a record of regular activity even if a lot is going on in the area.  If you contact the police by email about any criminal or suspicious activity, tell them (truthfully!) you have first called 911.  If you do not, they will generally ask you to do that first. 911 is also the best way to get hold of Fire/EMS.  If you have a general request for city service (e.g. can someone please remove this rusted bike body from that street sign in front of my house) then you should call 311.

Finally, it is worth knowing that 911 is not actually run by the police, it is run by the Office of Unified Communications, which in turn contacts other agencies, such as police and fire.  Therefore if you experience a breakdown in communication, it could be on the side of OUC or MPD.  Generally speaking, response to serious events is quite rapid.  If you do not get a sufficient response in the form of police showing up, first call 911 back, and later contact your local police leadership.  It is your choice whether or not to leave your name and phone number when you call 911, but it is highly encouraged, since a dispatcher can then call you back to put you in touch with an officer approaching the scene (the dispatcher and officer communicate via radio).


Police Fundamentals in 1A

Monthly Meetings


Dear neighbors,
On a monthly basis there are meetings of the Public Safety Committee for Columbia Heights and Park View (ANC1A) for one hour, often at the ANC 1A office at 3400 11th St NW Suite 200 (above Kangaroo Boxing Club). Generally we are meeting the third Wednesday of each month at 6pm.  Everyone who lives or does business in the area is welcome!
Look forward to seeing you there, and feel free to refer other interested persons to me as well.  Also please let us know if you cannot make it to the meeting but have something you want to express to me or to the group.  You can verify this month’s meeting time and place or contact the Committee at 1APublicSafety.DC@gmail.com
Preliminary AGENDA.  Please let me know if you would like to add anything.
  1. Introductions around the room
  2. Review of last month’s crime stats
  3. Update on 3 priorities for 2016: Block Organizers and Clean-Ups, Public Information Blog, Youth Activities
  4. Open discussion on additional neighborhood concerns and potential activities
  5. Conclusions and next steps
Monthly Meetings

What’s This Blog For?

Welcome!  The purpose of this blog is to serve as a public information center on public safety issues for people who live and/or work in Washington DC’s Columbia Heights and Park View neighborhoods.  It also offers an opportunity for citizens, if they chose, to get involved in supporting safety in the neighborhood.  It will cover:

  • News and updates on current events of public concern and reasons to celebrate
  • Analysis, questions, proposals for improvement, and calls to volunteer action
  • Background context for understanding our public safety environment, such as how the MPD is organized, how they relate to other DC agencies, etc.

The blog is maintained by the Public Safety Committee of the neighborhood’s local representative body, ANC1A (http://anc1a.org/).

Here is a map of the geographic area in focus for ANC1A and for this blog — it is the area inside the purple lines:


You will notice that ANC1A is divided into 12 sub-areas.  Each of these is a single-member district represented by an elected ANC Commissioner.  You can find your Commissioner’s contact information here: http://anc1a.org/cms.html

If you have any questions or would like to submit a post, please contact us at 1APublicSafety.DC@gmail.com.

What’s This Blog For?