- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 5, 2008

The Metropolitan Police Department will focus on increased visibility and better community relations as it steps up patrols on weekends and holidays this month, which is part of the third phase of the city’s All Hands on Deck program that started Monday.

“The most important thing is to increase our community involvement.” said D.C. Council member Harry Thomas, a Ward 5 Democrat. “We want there to be enough police around that if people are seen talking to them they won’t be labeled a snitch.”

Mayor Adrian M. Fenty, Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier, and Mr. Thomas appeared at a press event Monday at Bladensburg and Benning roads Northeast promoting the latest phase of All Hands on Deck.

“I know these officers are committed to making D.C. as safe as humanly possible,” Mr. Fenty said.

Police have faced heavy criticism after recent bursts of violence prompted Chief Lanier to twice establish vehicle checkpoints in the Trinidad neighborhood.

Police have already seen increased involvement by local residents. There has been a 600 percent rise in anonymous tips sent via text message since police started passing out detailed contact information to Ward 5 residents after a rash of homicides, Chief Lanier said.

After the news conference, Mr. Fenty and other officials walked to Holbrook Street Northeast in the Trinidad neighborhood, where the victims of a May 31 triple homicide were found. A suspect was arrested and charged in the slayings on Sunday.

The three shootings were part of a night of heavy violence in the District, during which seven people were killed in five incidents in less than nine hours. One of the victims was shot by police after he reportedly lunged at them with a knife during a domestic dispute.

City officials also promoted tonight’s National Night Out, in which local residents are encouraged to lock their doors and leave their homes to participate in community events in the name of crime prevention.

The 5th Police District - and Trinidad in particular - is one of the most violent areas in the city and has required the most police presence this year, according to Mr. Thomas.

Eight people have been fatally shot in the District and 19 wounded since July 22.



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