Thursday, March 13, 2008

Police yesterday outlined plans for deploying officers around the new Washington Nationals stadium in Southeast and in the surrounding neighborhoods on game days.

Cmdr. David Kamperin, who runs the Metropolitan Police Department’s 1st District, where the stadium is located, said officers with the department’s Special Operations Division would be deployed on foot, on bicycles, in cars and on Segways to at least 39 “static posts” around the ballpark to direct traffic and assist in crowd control.

Additionally, he said, 10 beats — staffed by either one or two officers — will patrol, mostly on foot, the neighborhoods surrounding the stadium, looking out for auto thefts or other property crimes in the hours before and after games.

“I think there is more crime opportunity because anywhere there is an increase in vehicles and an increase in people there’s an opportunity for crime,” Cmdr. Kamperin said.

Cmdr. Kamperin said the beats would be staffed by officers working overtime assignments, so no patrols would be lacking in other parts of the city.

He said the Nationals also have hired off-duty police officers to patrol the stadium.

Police spokeswoman Traci Hughes said the extra patrols and a security detail will cost $1.2 million to cover all of the home games this season.

Some residents expressed concern that the plan will not go far enough to stem crime, which is particularly rampant at neighborhood construction sites and abandoned lots.

“If they are so focused on patrons and not locals, it’s difficult on us,” said Vanessa Ruffin-Colbert, who lives in the area.

In the past week, police received reports of a midday shooting near the ballpark and a robbery at the Shulman’s Wine & Liquor Store on First Street in Southwest, about two blocks west of the ballpark. No one was injured in the incidents.

The shooting occurred Monday in the 1300 block of Half Street in Southwest, police said.

The robbery unfolded about 10 minutes after the liquor store closed at 9 p.m. last Thursday. A gunman pointed his weapon at a cashier’s head and demanded cash and his wallet.

“I’ve been working here for more than five years, and this is the first time ever,” said the store’s owner, Arun Phull. “I hope things get better, and there is more security.”

In the past month, 18 crimes were reported in the ballpark’s Police Service Area (PSA). In the neighboring PSAs, six robberies were reported, including a robbery with a gun, two assaults with a gun and one assault without a gun.

According to police statistics, violent crime in the 1st District has decreased in the past month. Lt. Nicholas Gallucci, who is in charge of PSA 104 adjacent to the ballpark, said crime numbers are declining because police are deploying additional officers.

“The plan is concentrating on parking [patrol cars] in high-concentrated areas, undercover operations and having gun-covering units assisting,” Lt. Gallucci said.

However, he pointed to a jump in the number of auto thefts. Within the past 30 days, police received reports of 10 thefts from autos and three cars stolen.

Ron McBee, an advisory neighborhood commissioner, said he was concerned about quality of life in the area.

“We’re much more concerned about pedestrian safety, the trash or [having] one of our seniors hit,” he said.

Miss Ruffin-Colbert said the sidewalks are in disrepair, and she fears the stadium will bring back nuisance crimes. The area once housed adult-entertainment clubs.

“Large events with limos, tailgating, the whole fanfare, brings a lot of things that this community has once abated,” she said.

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