Friday, February 15, 2008

MPD is Watching

On the 1400 block of R Street MPD recently installed a surveillance camera. The camera, one of six in Ward 2, is part of an effort to monitor higher crime areas throughout the city. I have mixed feelings about its location; I like that the camera may prevent crime and assist in prosecutions of crimes, but I hate that this block so close to our home is considered a high crime area.

I do not, however, have mixed feelings about this recent development on the 1400 block. The 1416 building of Wardman Row has a DC Housing and Community Development posted in the yard. I hope that DHCD's involvement is a sign that we can keep affordable housing in Logan Circle while improving the safety and appearance of blocks along 14th Street.

A quick history of the 1400 block of R Street NW for the unfamiliar: Crimes both large and small have plagued the block for decades. Problems have ranged from periodic unlawful entry to nearly constant drug dealing to a fatal shooting in 2001. At one time the building owners did such a poor job of providing security and monitoring illegal activity in and around the apartments, that the United States Attorney's Office for DC successfully prosecuted them. In 2005 MPD attempted to combat persistent problems with drug dealing through the temporary placement of large flood lights on the block. This past summer, police began nightly foot patrol of the block, and monitoring has continued through the cooler months. The patrols did drastically reduce loitering, and there was a commensurate decrease in crime. However, the USAO's "Court Report" documents from last year show quite number of prosecutions of residents from the 1400 block of R Street.

This past summer, the five buildings that were under the ownership of R Street Associates were purchased by a developer who requested DHCD's and the DC Finance Agency's assistance in funding renovations. Current residents will be given the option to remain in their units or apply Section 8 vouchers toward rent at another location. After renovation, several income-based pricing tiers will be offered, including six units to be offered at market rates.


mediocre bad guy said...

Also, couldn't the camera be package in a way so as to make it less big brother is watching you?

I mean a nice little casing housing all of those boxes perched atop a post maybe disguising itself as a light fixture, I dont know..just a thought.

If this were done in Europe you could bet there would be some delicious design something used for this application.

Mr. 14th & You said...

Or maybe the MPD WANTS people to know the cameras are there? Dunno...