- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 25, 2000

Residents of a Northwest D.C. neighborhood stunned by a one-night vandalism spree that saw 34 tires slashed in the 4700 block of 15th Street say they're determined to stop the problem before it gets worse.

Residents of the 16th Street Heights community met with police and a federal prosecutor on Friday to talk about the tire-slashing, which happened sometime between 3:30 a.m. and 5:30 a.m. Thursday.

The front and rear tires along the curbside of 17 cars were slashed.

"The tire slashing was strictly a surprise. They have to nip it in the bud. We'll have to do whatever we have to do to curtail it now," said Moselle Cullen, a 32-year-resident.

Mrs. Cullen and other community leaders in this quiet residential neighborhood say the incident has galvanized the community's resolve.

Jan Bailey, a 22-year resident of the street, said his neighbors are "buzzing."

"We are somewhat apprehensive about what is going to happen. There's a lot of fear and concern in the community," Mr. Bailey said.

The price of new tires put a dent in residents' wallets, but they are more concerned with their peace of mind.

"It's something you can't measure the psychological costs," Mr. Bailey said.

When residents met on Friday with police, they expressed interest in re-establishing Patrol Safety Area (PSA) officers in the community. The PSA program is a community-policing initiative that puts officers on a regular beat in a small area.

Police said groups of rival teens are responsible for a spate of shootings, drug deals and vandalism in surrounding neighborhoods and that the trouble may be spilling over into 16th Street Heights.

Detectives say they have no motive for the mass vandalism, and nobody has been charged in the case. Police told residents they would report back to the neighborhood in four weeks on the department's plan for answering residents' concerns.

The incident brought residents who had never attended community gather ings to last Friday's meeting, where police painted a realistic picture of growing problems in troubled blocks around 16th Street, Mr. Bailey said.

"We're not anti-children or anti-young people … but we plan to be part of the solution," said Mr. Bailey, who works for the city.

Residents hoping to head to work Thursday instead found themselves facing the hassles of disabled cars.

"Nothing like this ever happened before," said Tom Gross, 44, a stay-at-home dad, who has lived in the neighborhood for 10 years.

"It wasted a day. You add it all up, it's a lot of money [on one street]," Mr. Gross said.

"Everybody went to work late," said Marcel P.L. Dessin, 74, a retired airport dispatcher.

Mr. Dessin has lived on the block for 30 years and raised five children there, all now college graduates. But he says the recent trouble has him thinking it might be time to move elsewhere.

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