- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 10, 2006

D.C. police today will begin installing surveillance cameras in four high-crime neighborhoods, nearly 30 days after officials declared a citywide crime emergency.

The closed-circuit television cameras (CCTV) will be installed at 14th and Girard streets Northwest, the 400 block of O Street Northwest, the 1200 block of Valley Avenue Southeast, and between the 1500 and 1700 blocks of Benning Road Northeast.

“The deployment of CCTV cameras in D.C. neighborhoods is not a panacea to the serious problems of crime and violence on our streets,” Metropolitan Police Chief Charles H. Ramsey said. “But the cameras do provide us with one additional crime-fighting tool that will help to deter criminal activity in the first place and, if crimes do occur, help us identify, apprehend and convict the offenders.”

A fatal shooting occurred during broad daylight yesterday at one of the proposed camera sites.

A man in his early 20s was shot several times in front of an apartment building in the 1400 block of Girard Street about 12:30 p.m. yesterday. Police arrested a 15-year-old boy in connection with the slaying.

Police spokesman Kevin Morison said it has not been decided where or on what structure the camera would be mounted at the Benning Road site.

Installation of the cameras is expected to be completed by the end of this week.

Officials said the four cameras are temporary and will be replaced by permanent cameras later this month. They will operate 24 hours a day, but will only be reviewed by police when a crime is committed.

Chief Ramsey said it took awhile to determine where to install the cameras. He declared the crime emergency July 12.

“We choose the site, [but information-technology] people have to go out and figure out where we’re going to mount the cameras,” Chief Ramsey said. “What’s the signal like? There are trees that need to be trimmed. It doesn’t make sense to put a camera up if you can’t see anything.”

According to police, about two dozen cameras will be deployed by the end of this month and 23 more cameras in September.

A 30-day citywide crime emergency was declared after a British activist was killed in Georgetown on July 9, the District’s 13th homicide in 11 days.

The law allowing the surveillance cameras was approved by the D.C. Council as part of 90-day emergency legislation introduced by D.C. Mayor Anthony A. Williams in response to the increase in crime.

The legislation allows Chief Ramsey to place cameras throughout the District at his discretion. He is required to notify only a D.C. Council member and an advisory neighborhood commissioner about plans to place a camera in their jurisdiction.

The first four camera locations were chosen based on crime rates and resident requests, officials said.

Chief Ramsey said officials have looked at 48 sites throughout the city as possible camera locations and have identified 10 other sites as backup locations.

Mr. Williams and Chief Ramsey have been criticized for delaying the deployment of the cameras, but both defended the city’s methods yesterday.

“We want to do it right,” Mr. Williams said. “Anyone can just slap some cameras up, but then we’d be getting in even more trouble.”

The legislation also institutes a 10 p.m. weeknight curfew for city teenagers through the end of the month.

Mr. Williams said he plans to introduce a bill to the D.C. Council after it returns from its summer recess that would make the emergency legislation permanent.

The crime emergency, which was scheduled to end today, will be extended indefinitely, a spokesman for the Metropolitan Police Department said yesterday.

Chief Ramsey said he will decide when to end the emergency after reviewing crime numbers in the near future. The crime emergency also allows Chief Ramsey to change officer work and redeployment schedules without warning.

“Our officers have families, too. … I don’t want to extend it any longer than it has to be,” Chief Ramsey said.

Mr. Williams said enforcement changes made during the crime emergency will continue after the emergency ends.

“The trend is going in the right direction, but there’s still a lot of work to do,” Mr. Williams said yesterday. “I look at what we’ve done here in the emergency as setting a foundation for what we have to do in the fall.”

Crime has dropped 4.6 percent since the emergency was declared, officials said, despite a small increase in homicides and assaults in June and July.

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