WASHINGTON D.C., DC — The District of Columbia has deployed a new multiagency Night Life Task Force in an effort to curtail ongoing violent activity in three nightlife corridors.
DC police and other district agencies will focus their resources throughout the summer months on Connecticut Avenue Northwest, H Street Northeast, and U Street Northwest.
The working group will address ongoing issues like enforcing traffic and parking regulations like idling cars, dispersing people who are loitering, and making sure businesses in the corridors are not overserving alcohol; all factors that contribute to the violent activity in those areas according to Police Assistant Chief Morgan Kane.
"When we go out and we deploy as teams with everyone taking their individual responsibility and making sure they're executing it," said Kane to WUSA9. She says the traffic control officers and crane operators help them deal with issues that arise in these congested areas so that the D.C. police officers can focus on greater security issues that arise.
"We still have our officers in those corridors to focus on gun recovery and the criminal activity that we are seeing," said Kane.
The plan has been in place for three weeks and will continue every Friday and Saturday through Labor Day weekend. Due to the Fourth of July weekend, crews will also be out on Sunday, July 3. The efforts on the three corridors coincide with extra safety measures in place for Independence Day.
"Our public safety Go Teams will be engaging residents in areas where we expect larger gatherings to happen. Our Go Teams are made up of nonlaw enforcement partners like credible messengers and violence interrupters," said Mayor Bowser during a Thursday press conference about public safety.
Business owners on U Street that spoke to WUSA9 said that crime is a top-of-mind issue. Tesfamicael Berhane has owned a liquor store at the intersection of U Street Northwest and 14th Street Northwest for 40 years. He says the June 19 fatal shooting of 15-year-old Chase Poole has left him with many questions.
"I am really really concerned, we need the special officers to do their job," said Berhane.
Poole was shot during a massive event called Moechella that city officials said was not authorized. Officers were on the scene when the teenager was shot. Three other adults were also wounded, one was a police officer.
"We have to have events that are planned for and permitted. Especially when they are large events we need to be able to plan for safety," said Assistant Chief Kane about D.C.'s police response to the Moechella event adding "There wasn't anything in place to ensure we did not get a gun into that circumstance, and that's part of the plan."
Other residents like Henry Sikes expressed concern about the new tactic being used to curb violence.
"That's what you should be looking out for, people that are doing something out of the ordinary not just people having fun," said Sikes who worries that this plan might lead to harassment of residents or displacing of residents who congregate in the area and do not pose a threat to public safety.
"Like Fourth of July, I don't really want to be out when they're shooting fireworks because I don't know if it's a gun," added Sikes who admits that the recent shootings have forced him to make changes.
Sikes said he will not partake in Independence Day celebrations because the fear of getting caught in crossfire he says is unnerving.
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