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Key findings in a new study, released June 28, conclude District of Columbia residents who live in Ward 8 feel the least safe of any in the city, are more likely to have observed or experienced a violent crime, and are least likely to trust police than those who live in other wards.

The Community Preservation and Development Corporation (CPDC), and the Council for Court Excellence and the Local Initiatives Support Corporation conducted online and face-to-face interviews with 909 people in each D.C. ward to determine perceptions of personal and community safety and promote strategies for improving interactions with law enforcement.

“Public safety is core to a community’s quality of life,” said Pamela Lyons, CPDC senior vice president for Community Impact Strategies. “Our goal with this survey is to identify what we need to do to strengthen partnerships between residents who live in communities across the city and the law enforcement officers who are supposed to protect them.”

CPDC launched the survey following a number of shootings in Ward 8. The incidents increased awareness of and concern about the safety and security of residents who live there as well as in surrounding neighborhoods. CPDC is leading a “Collaborating for Prevention” initiative to foster community-driven public safety plans so residents who work, live and play on their properties can thrive. CPDC is seeking funding to convene three community listening sessions during summer 2016. These sessions will focus on showing survey results and processing recommendations that could lead to the development of public safety plans.

“As a community developer that makes heavy investments in housing in Ward 8, we have a role in helping residents find their voice to create safer places. The findings from this survey offer an opportunity for residents and police to see where the problems are and work together toward solutions that can result in better and improved communications and levels of trust,” said Lyons.

Ward 8 resident Kalenda Lyles, who lives in a Congress Heights neighborhood plagued by random acts of violence and what she describes as “casual lawlessness,” told the AFRO the survey reiterates what law-abiding citizens have complained to city officials about for decades. “The survey is important because it quantifies what District residents have been saying,” Lyles said. “Many African-American homeowners from the H. Street corridor to the Petworth moved away from the city because of heightened crime, poor crime solving rates, and fear of being victimized. Now that the city’s racial demographics have changed, let’s see how similar fears are answered.”

The survey also found that residents in Wards 2, 5, 7, and 8 were much less likely to feel safe in neighborhood parks and playgrounds than residents in Wards 1, 3, and 4; younger residents experienced the highest rates of exposure to violent crime in Wards 7 and 8, and were more likely to report negative interactions with law enforcement than youth in other wards.