- The Washington Times - Monday, September 25, 2006

D.C. Mayor Anthony A. Williams plans to ask the D.C. Council to extend the provisions of his anti-crime legislation on an emergency basis for another 90 days to give legislators an opportunity to authorize its provisions permanently.

The legislation, which is to expire Oct. 19, allowed police to deploy 48 neighborhood surveillance cameras and appropriated $2.3 million for them. If no action is taken by the council, police will be required to stop using the cameras when the legislation expires.

A surveillance camera that points down a dead-end street in Southeast caught an image of a man entering an apartment complex Sunday evening, just before he and a 14-year-old boy were fatally shot.

Capt. C.V. Morris, head of the police department’s Violent Crimes Branch, said that the camera did not catch the shooting or provide police with a description of a suspect but that they are reviewing footage from private security cameras deployed at the complex for more information.

Curtis Watkins, 32, of no fixed address, was found in the hallway of a building at 3414 13th Place with a gunshot wound to the lower back. He was taken to Howard University Hospital and pronounced dead at 12:30 a.m.

Andre Pee, 14, of the 3300 block of 14th Place Southeast, was found in front of a building at 3408 13th Place also suffering from a gunshot wound to the lower back. He was taken to Washington Hospital Center and pronounced dead at 12:13 am.

Capt. Morris said police have no motive and don’t know whether the victims knew each other.

He said a high-tech audio-monitoring tool called ShotSpotter, which can detect gunshots and triangulate their location, alerted police to the gunfire at 11:16 p.m. Investigators determined that the fatal shots were among five shots fired from the same gun at the same location.

Capt. Morris said that so far, the surveillance cameras have not helped police in any homicide investigations.

“We had one case in the 3rd District. That one showed us a homicide, but the guy was caught pretty much on the scene,” he said.

The first four cameras were installed beginning Aug. 10 with others following in groups of about a dozen. The last set of 13 cameras was expected to be in place by the end of last week.

Metropolitan Police Chief Charles H. Ramsey said yesterday that police have pulled tapes from cameras as part of three investigations. He said it is “inevitable” that the cameras will prove their worth.

“I think it’s too early to tell,” he said. “You have to give it time before you see the results.”

Chief Ramsey said that in the permanent version of the legislation, he does not intend to recommend any changes to the way the camera network is administered. He said that the cameras will continue to tape on a 10-day loop and that they will not be monitored in real time. He also said he has no plans to acquire additional cameras in the near future.

Ed Reiskin, interim city administrator and deputy mayor for public safety and justice, said that permanent legislation has been introduced to the council but that it could not be passed before the authorization for the cameras expires.

He said the permanent legislation contains the “exact same language” as that passed by the council on an emergency basis.

The council’s Committee on the Judiciary plans two oversight hearings in the next 10 days on the crime-emergency legislation. A hearing Friday is scheduled to examine the effectiveness of the crime emergency and the success of the mayor’s emergency legislation. Another hearing scheduled for Oct. 4 will address the effectiveness of the crime cameras.

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