Cathy Lanier-003

Police Chief Cathy Lanier said the Metropolitan Police Department has made a significant impact in reducing gang violence and street crime.

Six major events on or related to criminal activities, including homicides, kidnapping and money embezzlement, topped news headlines in the District in 2014.

Police Misconduct: In January of 2014 D.C. Police Chief Cathy Lanier attended hearings, where she answered questions on police misconduct in the District.  The occurrences of misconduct involved child pornography, a prostitution operation, and attempted murder.

Since those investigations the Metropolitan Police Department is now involved in a body camera pilot program that began on Oct. 1, 2014.

“While the population expands – with 1,100 residents moving into our city each month – we still saw a 9 percent reduction in violent crime in 2014. We are making progress,” Lanier told the AFRO Jan. 6.

She said the department has made a significant impact in reducing gang violence and street crime.

“We have worked to build strong relationships with the community,” she said. “More people are providing us information and tips that lead to preventing and solving crime.”

According to Lanier, goals for 2015 will focus on working more cooperatively with our partner agencies to prevent violence in the home, particularly homicides involving women and children. She said the department is currently redesigning its youth division to more efficiently address violence prevention.

Relisha Rudd’s Disappearance: The eight-year-old girl, residing at D.C. General Family Homeless Shelter in Southeast opened a litany of problems of child neglect, homelessness and school absences. It was reported that, under her mother’s permission, Shamika Young allowed her daughter to go with a janitor, Kahlil Tatum, who worked at the shelter. The two then disappeared and later, Tatum was found in Kenilworth Park with investigations reporting that he committed suicide. A 12-page report was done on the accounting of the girl in which the search for her is still open. Relisha has been missing since March 1.

Ban the Box: In July of 2014, the City Council voted unanimously (12-1) to forward the “Ban the Box” bill to give returning citizens greater access to employment.  Former councilmember Tommy Wells (D-Ward 6) introduced Bill 20-642, the Fair Criminal Records Screening Act. Congress is reviewing the specifications of the bill.

Vincent Gray Lost Primary:  Gray probably would have won a second term as mayor if his administration was not rocked by scandal.  Former council members Michael Brown, Kwame Brown, and Harry Thomas pled guilty to bribery and embezzling funds. Michael and Harry Thomas went to prison while Kwame, guilty of bank fraud, received six months of home detention.

But it didn’t stop there. Under Gray’s campaign, Thomas W. Gore, Suliamon Brown, Howard L. Brooks, Jeanne Clark Harris and Jeffrey E. Thompson were under investigation.  Gore, Brooks pled guilty to election violations and secret pay-offs, while Harris pled guilty to thwarting campaign laws. Thompson is still being investigated.  Despite a plea deal, Gray denies any illegal activity. He lost his bid for reelection in November to then Ward 4 councilmember Muriel Bowser. Bowser was recently inaugurated as Mayor of D.C. on Jan. 2.

Mothers Come to Washington: A delegation of 10 African American mothers of slain males who were killed by authorities came to the District between Dec. 9-11 to voice their criticism of police brutality and the criminal justice system.  Their sessions contained a strategy meeting of organizations working on issues relating to police brutality, a public forum at First Trinity Lutheran Church in Northwest, a congressional hearing and meetings at the Rayburn Building on Capitol Hill and a public vigil at the Department of Justice. There are plans for a Mother’s Day march against police brutality for May 2015.

Holiday Shootings and Homicides: The Christmas holiday season brought an onslaught of shootings and homicides in the District.  Fifteen people were shot, with about half losing their lives.  McFadden’s Restaurant Bar and Saloon in Foggy Bottom, where five people were stabbed on Dec. 27, has closed down permanently, according to recent news reports.