- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 3, 2000

National Night Out is a time for people to show they're not afraid of crime, but that message may have been lost in the roar of gunfire late Tuesday and early yesterday in the District of Columbia, where four men were killed in separate incidents.
The slayings bring to nine the number of persons killed in the city since Friday and prompted Metropolitan Police Chief Charles H. Ramsey to hurry an announcement that more police will be put on the streets in violence-plagued districts.
"Because of the rash [of homicides] we just had, we could not wait any longer," Chief Ramsey said yesterday as he outlined a plan that will put all officers under the rank of captain on the streets at least 12 weeks a year.
"We have a very violent city. We have a violent society," Chief Ramsey said. "We are going to use all of the officers in the department… . There are no exceptions to this rule."
The most recent violence came on the heels of several high-profile National Night Out events throughout the city, including one Tuesday night at the Metropolitan Police Boys and Girls Club on Benning Road NE headed up by D.C. Mayor Anthony A. Williams.
"Tonight," Mr. Williams said, "is going to be a safer night in D.C."
But the mayor's anti-violence message went unheeded in the District. In all, six persons were shot in three apparently unrelated incidents over 3* hours.
The trouble began at 10 p.m. Tuesday, when police and medical personnel were called to an apartment in the 4900 block of Foote Street NE. Two unidentified males there had been shot in the head.
Two hours later, just after midnight, police found Tyrone James Johnson Jr., 24, of the 5000 block of Sixth Place NE, outside a nightclub in the 2100 block of Queens Chapel Road NE. He was pronounced dead from gunshot wounds in the head and body at 1:03 a.m.
Two other men were wounded in that shooting, which police were told resulted from an argument over a woman.
At 1:20 a.m., police responded to the sounds of gunfire in the 3200 block of 15th Place SE. They found Donnell Chatman, 23, of the 4100 block of Livingston Road SE, lying in a courtyard. He had been shot several times in the back.
No arrests have been made in any of the incidents.
National Night Out went more smoothly in other jurisdictions: The District had the only homicides reported in the Washington area.
Crime overall is down in the District this year, but homicides are up, with 153 reported as of yesterday compared to 144 at this time last year, according to Executive Assistant Chief Terrance W. Gainer. The District should have fewer than 100 murders a year, he said.
Chief Ramsey's plan, which will begin Aug. 20, will put 250 additional uniformed officers on the street from 6 p.m. to 2 a.m. Tuesdays through Sundays. It will involve 1,000 officers and supervisors who will work the shift one week each month.
Chief Gainer said the officers will be in uniform and work patrols on foot, bicycles, motorcycles and patrol cars. They will always be assigned to one of the seven districts, particularly communities with highest crime levels like Brookland and Shepherd Park.
"This is permanent. It is not temporary," Chief Gainer said.
Upper-echelon officers are not exempt. Captains, inspectors and commanders who are not assigned to districts will work from Operations Command on a rotating basis as "field commanders."
Most of the 3,600-plus police officers know about the plan and none has complained, Chief Gainer said. In fact, he said, some officers in specialized duties "look forward to work on the street" as less stressful.
"We have to maximize the use of all of our resources," Chief Gainer said, and "This is good old-fashioned police work."

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