Rowhomes on 8th St NW in the Petworth neighborhood

Rowhomes on 8th St NW in the Petworth neighborhood. (Courtesy photo)

Residents from the Petworth neighborhood in Northwest D.C. gathered at Truesdell Education Campus, located at 800 Ingraham St N.W., recently to tell the Washington Metropolitan Police (MPD) of their concerns about rising crime and poor police response.

Residents complained about open prostitution, robberies and what they said was the failure of police to respond to their calls for help during their monthly Advisory Neighborhood Commission meeting Oct. 21.

Zillah Wesley was one of them.

“I was coming home at night at like two in the morning and this guy tried to get in my friend’s car,” Wesley said. “He was drunk, and then he didn’t let me in my house. We went around the block, we came back and then we called 911, because he still wasn’t going to let me in the house.”

“D.C. cops never came,” she continued.

Other residents complained that assaults, robberies, and prostitution have reached a level to where it is now a part of the local economy.

“Time and time again I have been complaining to a couple of police officers,” Andrene Finn said.  “Cab drivers are picking up prostitutes. Sometimes you see cab drivers sitting still. They are not just sitting there for no reason.”

MPD Officers Raul Castro and Ernie Davis listened patiently and responded to the residents’ concerns.

“I’m sorry that happened,” Davis said in response to Wesley’s story.  “It shouldn’t have happened like that.”

The commission’s fourth district meeting Chair Donna Brockington asked about a reported sexual assault in a taxi cab in Northeast.

“Was that someone taking a cab from the area or had they been picked up somewhere else?” she asked.

“That we don’t know,” Davis responded. “I was told that after further investigation there was no sexual assault.”

The officers told residents to not call the police directly, even if the response time is longer than expected after calling 911.

“Do not call the fourth district, call 911,” Davis said.  “While they are talking to you, they can dispatch officers depending on how high or low the priority is.”

Castro and Davis gave residents tips on how not to become a victim, such as closing their blinds, making sure their doors are locked and cutting down trees so possible assailants won’t have a place to hide.

“Alarm systems are great,” Castro said.  “I don’t know which is the best, but I’m telling you they do work.”

He also suggested that residents purchase cameras, because they are a great deterrent and let burglars know to stay away from their homes.

Ward 4 commissioners Renee Bowser, Bill Quirk and Lisa Colbert also attended the meeting.