- The Washington Times - Friday, January 5, 2007

D.C. Mayor Adrian M. Fenty and Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier said yesterday they want to customize police presence on city streets to residents’ suggestions but critics and activists criticized their plans for lack of detail.

“Community policing is a huge priority for the mayor and chief,” said Mr. Fenty, a Democrat elected in November to replace outgoing Mayor Anthony A. Williams. “When we wake up in the morning, we’re thinking about how to get more officers out on the street. I think that’s the commitment people wanted us to make.”

Mr. Fenty, 36, long has advocated putting more officers on streets to reduce crime, a strategy known as community policing.

“I have walked every neighborhood in this great city and there was one theme that I heard in every ward, every block and every town hall,” he said. “This theme was the need for increased community policing.”

Mr. Fenty called for the strategy as a Ward 4 council member and during in mayoral run, including the subtle promise to replace Chief Charles H. Ramsey if he failed to put more officers on the street.

Chief Ramsey made no clear attempt to embrace the strategy and was replaced in late November by Chief Lanier.

Mr. Fenty said the talks with residents and officials will conclude Feb. 28 and the suggestions will be included in “customized community policing plans” for each part of the city, which will be ready in March.

Dorothy Brizill, executive director of the D.C. government watchdog group DCWatch, questioned whether the strategy is a rehash of failed initiatives and whether Mr. Fenty indeed has a plan.

“I’ve been here more than 35 years, tell me something in [the strategy] that’s new,” Mrs. Brizill said yesterday.

Mr. Fenty and Chief Lanier said officers in the 1st District are on foot patrol for at least two hours a shift.

The 6th District has split up evening and “power” shifts into 32 small, geographical beats and is deploying officers on foot, bicycle and motorcycle patrols for those shifts.

“Our department is moving quickly and energetically and in close partnership with the communities to combat crime in all of our neighborhoods,” Chief Lanier said.

Despite Mr. Fenty’s criticism of Chief Ramsey, he acknowledged the department improved greatly under his direction, particularly in reducing crime and improved hiring standards.

The Metropolitan Police Department has more than 4,400 sworn officers and civilian employees, according to the department’s Web site.

The annual homicide total in the District has decreased every year since 2002, when 262 were recorded. Last year, the Metropolitan Police Department reported 169 homicides, the lowest total in the past 20 years.

“I’m cognizant of the fact that the public’s expectations of MPD are very high,” Chief Lanier said. “Our residents have witnessed sharp reductions in crime in recent years, and they’re calling for even more results. We’re prepared to produce those results.”

Chief Lanier said she is challenging every member of the force to engage community members in helping to develop the strategy.

“So that the people who are carrying out the work, the police officers that are in the community every day, the people that live in the community every day are engaged … instead of me setting a strategy and pushing it down to those [under me] to carry out,” she said.

The strategy was backed by an handful of council members, including Jim Graham, Ward 1 Democrat.

Mr. Graham, who last year introduced the legislation to increase the department’s force by 100 officers, said the 3rd District, which is in his ward, is “heavily battered” by crime.

“I’m very excited about this leadership,” he said. “Just a few hours into this new administration, and crime, public safety and community policing is spotlighted. … Community policing is the answer, our neighbors working with the police, engaging with the police, giving them intelligence, feeling confidence, is the key to public safety.”

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