- The Washington Times - Friday, September 15, 2000

The 5th Police District's new commander is promising tougher enforcement and lining up her "A-Team" of new captains to deal with rowdy student parties that have upset Brookland residents.

Cmdr. Jennifer Greene, appointed to the post last week, told residents in her first meeting on Monday, "When it comes to breaking the law, there is no discretion," and her officers will arrest violators.

"It's my commitment to make sure you get what you need to make your community safe," Cmdr. Greene said.

Despite a few testy moments during the meeting, residents left expressing confidence in the new leadership and said they were willing to give Cmdr. Greene a chance to deal with the area's problems.

"We're glad to have a new commander here to bring this terrible three-year ordeal to an end," said Mary Baird-Currie, an advisory neighborhood commissioner.

Cmdr. Greene, an 18-year veteran of the Metropolitan Police Department, already has placed four new captains she calls them her "A-Team" to tackle the primary issues in the district: raucous Catholic University student parties, continued fear over a rash of brutal armed robberies this spring, and one of the highest homicide rates in the city.

Those issues are part of the reason why police Chief Charles H. Ramsey demoted Anthony Poteat from the commander position last week. Now in the 2nd District, Capt. Poteat had told the chief that the demands of the job were weighing on him.

Cmdr. Greene, who last headed the department's recruiting efforts, said she has followed the troubles in the 5th District for the last year and was brainstorming to find solutions before her promotion.

"Now, I'm the one here dealing with these things and it's my responsibility," she said.

Cmdr. Greene must deal with one of the most vocal and critical neighborhood groups in the city: the Brookland Neighborhood Safety Association.

At the community meeting Monday, Mrs. Baird-Currie expressed the group's and other residents' frustration.

"We want and we need zero tolerance to the disruption of the community," she said. "We are entitled to that. Our crime is out of control."

Residents said they were frustrated by a lack of response and accountability from officers who patrol the area, particularly in the way they have handled the armed robberies and loud student parties.

Cmdr. Greene got firsthand experience with that frustration when she told the group that several juveniles in custody probably were connected to the remaining unsolved robberies.

Darcy Flynn, an organizer of the neighborhood group, interrupted the commander and explained that on the night of the juveniles' arrest, Aug. 22, a resident fought off two would-be robbers until a third man pulled a gun on him.

"Our statistics never match the police," said Mrs. Baird-Currie. "We don't plan to live through this another year, and we don't have to."

Cmdr. Greene promised she will demand results from her lieutenants, who are in charge of the police service areas, and she already has ordered them to write up specific plans.

"We certainly will be holding them accountable for their areas and their responsibilities in those areas," she said.

When she was picking four new captains to take charge in the district, Cmdr. Greene asked them two key questions: "How will you work to reduce the 5th District's crime rate?" and, "What will you do about the problems in Brookland?"

Cmdr. Greene said Capt. James Crane will head the police service areas that encompass Brookland, where much of the district's crime and complaints have centered. The commander said Capt. Crane brings a community-oriented approach to law enforcement.

The commander also had met with the head of security at Catholic University to discuss how to handle loud student parties, which have incensed neighbors over the past few weekends.

Cmdr. Greene said she is researching ways to crack down on the student parties, including regulations from the D.C. Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs that govern establishments charging individuals to drink alcohol.

Complaints from residents that police are practicing racial profiling in their enforcement of public-drinking regulations arresting blacks for the violations but not white college students caught Cmdr. Greene by surprise, but she said she would look into the matter.

Mrs. Baird-Currie and Mr. Flynn indicated they would wait for a response from Cmdr. Greene before filing a complaint about the issue with the Justice Department and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

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