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Police and Public Safety

It Takes More Than Police to Fight Crime in Shaw
By Jack Evans
Mar 2, 2008, 14:16

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Sunday, March 2, 2008; Page B08

Gunshots, drive-by shootings, bullets in alleyways. The neighborhood of Shaw, in the District's Ward 2, is experiencing blatant acts of violence, and it will take more than policing to stop it.

Over the past couple of years, the D.C. Council has designated millions of dollars for the Metropolitan Police Department's gang and prostitution units to quash the surge of violence. The police have had some success. Additionally, groups such as the Citizens Organized Patrol Efforts, Teaching America Sound Knowledge, the Alliance of Concerned Men, Peaceoholics and others have patrolled our neighborhoods and reached out to youths. Yet the violence continues.

I receive many phone calls, e-mails and letters from residents asking, "What is being done by the city to get this problem under control? What can this city do that it isn't already doing? Provide the necessary resources to law enforcement and allow them to do their job? Provide a quality and effective support network to our youth that allows them to capitalize on lawful, productive opportunities?" My question is: What can the community do as a "village" to be supportive and proud of its residents and to aid in helping its residents grow to be responsible neighbors and citizens?

I remember an old saying: "Community begins with family." I will not pull any punches. The Shaw community is split and broken. Pointing fingers, spreading he said-she said rumors, conscientiously looking for negatives and other unproductive distractions continue to drive the wedge further. In the meantime, violence rages.

A community that is united has a much better chance of solving its major problems. Again, the police cannot do it alone. My promise is to do everything I can to make sure that Shaw receives the support it needs from the city. But all of the city services in the world will not make a difference if the community does not come together and work to make Shaw all that we want it to be. This means putting away the petty differences and uniting for the betterment of the community.

Our young people need to be engaged, be it through employment, pre-employment training or education. To this end I commend the Washington Convention Center Authority, the Hotel Association of Washington DC, the University of the District of Columbia and the carpenters union for stepping up to the plate and offering training and apprenticeship programs. This is a great start, but more is needed. I am committed to getting more of these innovative programs in place.

Is this a means to an end? I don't think so, but we can get a handle on crime in Shaw. We can work together to make today's Shaw a reflection of its wonderful history. We can and we will succeed, but it will take each and every one of us. We have been down this road before and we have been successful. We can do it again. Are you game?

-- Jack Evans

Washington

The writer, a Democrat, represents Ward 2 on the D.C. Council.

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