- The Washington Times - Saturday, March 11, 2006

Ward 5 residents yesterday used their annual meeting with District leaders to discuss crime and other neighborhood issues.

“There have been five homicides [this year] in the Michigan Park area near Turkey Thicket,” resident Dino Drudi told Metropolitan Police Chief Charles H. Ramsey. “The last time we had even one, was 1997.”

Mr. Drudi, also president of the Michigan Park Citizens Association, was among the dozens of residents who attended the seventh annual Constituent Summit at Trinity University in Northeast.

Though many residents commended Chief Ramsey and the department, Mr. Drudi was among those concerned about increasing violence and too few police officers in the area. Mr. Drudi said he was the victim of a robbery attempt and that his neighbor — who is 6 feet, 2 inches tall and weighs 230 lbs. — was carjacked in front of his house.

“The list goes on,” he said. “We live in fear in our houses.”

Chief Ramsey acknowledged the increasing number of robberies. He also said robbery is a citywide problem and that a third of those arrested for the crime are juveniles.

“When they’re juveniles, they tend to get right back out,” he said. “We’ve made a lot of arrests, but we’ve got to continue to get information from the public. If we stay in touch and work together, we can have an impact — get them off the streets and keep them off the streets.”

Yet, he acknowledged the department must do a better job and said he would put more patrols in and focus on the area.

“Accountability is not something I shy away from,” he said, “but I don’t have a magic wand to change anything that hasn’t happened already. All I can do is what I [say] I am going to do. … I’m going to do what I need to do to get the situation straight.”

D.C. Council member Vincent B. Orange Sr., Ward 5 Democrat and mayoral candidate, led the meeting. He and Chief Ramsey joined officials from the departments of transportation, parks and recreation, public works and consumer and regulatory affairs, who listened to residents’ inquiries, comments and concerns about land use, youth summer-employment opportunities, refuse management and other matters.

“This is an opportunity to hold the agencies accountable,” Mr. Orange said. “These are everyday complaints that citizens have — a pothole on my block needs to be filled, get my sidewalks [cleared], there’s a drug house next door. We want to get all the issues addressed in one day.”

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