- The Washington Times - Saturday, August 3, 2002

D.C. police, clergy and community organizations took over the streets yesterday to celebrate the end of "40 Days of Increased Peace" with a block party in Southeast with gospel bands, refreshments and radio personalities.

Unfortunately, the celebration was after one of the bloodiest months since October 1999. Thirty-one persons were killed in the city last month, which accounted for most of the 40-day period.

"This type of gathering is a blessing, since folks rarely get to get together like this," said Kenneth Glover, 34, a member of the East of the River Clergy-Police Community Partnership and the host of the afternoon event in the 4100 block of First Street in Southeast.

"Our city is going through a lot with so many deaths. It's good that we have a day like this. My hope is that brothers will stop killing one another and selling drugs because the outcome isn't worth it," the native Washingtonian said.

Mr. Glover spoke from firsthand knowledge. He said he just finished a six-year stint in prison, and now he has taken to the streets to counsel young people who are living fast and loose and not considering the consequences.

About 500 people attended the block party, the culmination of 40 days of nonstop activities for children and young adults throughout the District. The anti-violence effort makes a difference, Mr. Glover said.

"The 40 Days of Increased Peace lets young people know that there are adults who do care. Just by working with the clergy and the police I've gotten lots of exposure. And it's not just for children it's for everybody," he said.

The laughter of children echoed throughout First Street as they lined up to get inside a moon bounce to jump around. Despite high-90s temperature, DeAngelo Spann, 12, lined up to bounce to his heart's content, and the hot summer afternoon didn't dampen his spirits one bit.

"This is all fun the moon bounce, the food and seeing cars that I've never seen before. Oh, and the music," said the seventh-grader, who attends Charles Hart Junior High School in Southeast.

The moon bounce was a hit with the youngsters, but so was the 1989 Mercury Cougar, a Metropolitan Police squad car bearing the license plate KIDS1. The children piled into the car and pretended to drive it.

Children weren't the only ones enjoying the festivities yesterday. Metropolitan Police officers were relaxing, chatting with residents and looking forward to a hot dog or a hamburger. Sgt. R.J. Arce, 36, a 12-year veteran on the force, said the 40 Days of Increased Peace was most effective.

"We have an opportunity to interact with people in nonstressful settings. And they get to see us in a better light," he said.

"In [Police Service Area] 710, crime is down for the last couple of months somewhere around 40 percent and we're very proud of that. Obviously, we want it to go down further," Sgt. Arce said.

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