DCentric » Crime http://dcentric.wamu.org Race, Class, The District. Wed, 16 May 2012 20:20:35 +0000 en hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.2.1 Copyright © WAMU The Effect Of Youth Unemployment On Crime http://dcentric.wamu.org/2012/04/the-effect-of-youth-unemployment-on-crime/ http://dcentric.wamu.org/2012/04/the-effect-of-youth-unemployment-on-crime/#comments Mon, 30 Apr 2012 16:44:39 +0000 Elahe Izadi http://dcentric.wamu.org/?p=15784 Continue reading ]]>

puamelia / Flickr

Reducing unemployment among D.C.’s young people will help reduce crime, according to a new report by D.C. think tank Justice Policy Institute.

The group, whose mission is to lower the incarceration rate, found that neighborhoods with high crime rates also have high unemployment rates, particularly among young people. A previous report found a similar connection between boosting education levels and public safety.

D.C. has an unemployment disparity, in which joblessness is very low in wealthy neighborhoods, while low-income neighborhoods have Depression-era unemployment rates. The Justice Policy Institute report also showed how unemployment is chronically high in places with a lot of crime:

Courtesy of Justice Policy Institute

Youth workers, teachers and activists often point to jobs as a way to keep youth busy and out of trouble. The authors note that not having a job can lead “to feelings of worthlessness, futility and disenfranchisement.”

But preparing young people to get hired is another matter. Although there are quite a number of jobs in the District, more than half require a bachelor’s degree. From the report [PDF]:

For young people from economically depressed areas in D.C., developing survival skills such as avoiding violence, finding a meal, and staying out of trouble may have taken precedence over honing other marketable workforce skills more valuable to employers. As compared to their more advantaged peers who may have received more preparation from their family, school and overall community environment, youth from low-income areas of the District may need additional guidance to meet the expectations of the workplace.

The report includes some recommendations, including matching young people to programs in fields they’re interested in and getting employers to hire young people who have completed job programs, regardless of whether they have criminal records.

We’ve previously explored the impact of high unemployment and communities, finding that it contributes to a cycle of crime. Also, people with criminal records find it very difficult to get hired. About 10 percent of District residents have a criminal record.

http://dcentric.wamu.org/2012/04/the-effect-of-youth-unemployment-on-crime/feed/ 1
‘Avoid the Ghetto’ App and Pegging Neighborhoods as Dangerous http://dcentric.wamu.org/2012/01/avoid-the-ghetto-app-and-pegging-neighborhoods-as-dangerous/ http://dcentric.wamu.org/2012/01/avoid-the-ghetto-app-and-pegging-neighborhoods-as-dangerous/#comments Fri, 27 Jan 2012 13:00:20 +0000 Elahe Izadi http://dcentric.wamu.org/?p=13690 Continue reading ]]>

Alpha / Flickr

Critics have dubbed a feature for GPS tools that would direct pedestrians to take alternate routes based on crime and demographic data the “Avoid the Ghetto” app. They say it could redirect people away from low-income or minority neighborhoods, or reinforce stereotypes about such areas. Others say the app makes GPS devices more intelligent by giving people useful information.

According to Microsoft’s patent for the app, which was approved last month, pedestrian routes can be calculated relying on demographic and violent crime data, among other things. The potential result: a pedestrian would be directed to walk a route where violent crime falls below a certain threshold, according to the patent.

Dubbing neighborhoods as “dangerous” can be tricky. Calculating the probability that you’ll be the victim of a crime is actually quite difficult, University of Maryland criminology professor Charles Wellford says. For one, it’s most useful when examined by block, not by an entire neighborhood. That’s because crime is highly localized, partially having to do with the conditions of specific locations, he says. However, calculating an accurate probability by block is difficult because it’s affected by how many people travel there, not just by who lives there.

For example, downtown D.C.’s population swells during the day as commuters increase the city’s daytime population by 73 percent. Is the probability that you’ll be the victim of a crime in downtown D.C. based based on how many people live there? The app patent is unclear on how it would take that into account. Wellford cites another example: he says the “most dangerous” place in San Francisco last weekend was Candlestick Park, where the New York Giants played the San Francisco 49ers.

“Any city that has an NFL team, the day they play at home, there’s a lot of crime around and within the stadium,” he said.

The app could potentially tell you to avoid that area. Depending how the data is used, the app can “paint pictures of communities that aren’t useful or accurate,” Wellford says.

Wellford says there is a “triangle” used to explain most crime: how motivated an offender is, the vulnerability of victims and the “absence of guardianship.” That last point refers to low police presence or having few people around. If an app tells pedestrians to avoid an area, it could potentially mean fewer eyes on the street, making it easier for people to commit crimes.

The other issue has to do with the types of crime. Pedestrians should be interested in the types of crimes that affect them. Victims of armed robberies don’t usually know their assailants, and robberies often happen outdoors, Wellford says. But victims of homicides, sexual assaults and aggravated assaults tend to know their assailants, and such crimes typically happen indoors. Not always, “but a substantial number,” Wellford says.

D.C.’s first and third police districts led the city in total number of crimes, according to 2009 Metropolitan Police Department statistics. Those districts include communities such as downtown, Logan Circle, U Street and Adams Morgan, areas with high concentrations of residents and businesses. The third district also leads the city in robberies. The seventh district, which includes Wards 7 and 8*, has the most homicides. So which areas are “most dangerous,” and for whom?

Figuring out if an area or block feels dangerous can be based on a number of things: personal experience, a gut feeling, stereotypes. Wellford says if the app does provide accurate information, it could be useful in helping people decide whether they want to adjust their behavior, such as walking down a different road.

In the end, such micro-decisions about safety are highly personal. One person may feel safe walking down the street at night in Columbia Heights or Anacostia, while another person wouldn’t. So should you allow an app to change your mind, or is it just a useful tool giving you a suggestion?

*This post originally stated the police department’s seventh district includes Ward 7; it’s in the department’s sixth district.

http://dcentric.wamu.org/2012/01/avoid-the-ghetto-app-and-pegging-neighborhoods-as-dangerous/feed/ 6
Why Crime is High Where Housing Voucher Users Live http://dcentric.wamu.org/2011/12/why-crime-is-high-where-housing-voucher-users-live/ http://dcentric.wamu.org/2011/12/why-crime-is-high-where-housing-voucher-users-live/#comments Tue, 27 Dec 2011 16:25:04 +0000 Elahe Izadi http://dcentric.wamu.org/?p=13033 Continue reading ]]>

Ian Britton / Flickr

Typically when there’s a move to provide more affordable housing in a neighborhood, some existing residents rail against it. One of their main concerns: people using housing vouchers, or government subsidies to pay rent, bring crime.

Yes, crime rates do tend to be higher in neighborhoods where many people use housing vouchers. But it’s not because those individuals increase crime — it’s because they move into neighborhoods where crime is already increasing, according to a recent study [PDF].

Researchers at New York University’s Wagner School and Furman Center for Real Estate and Urban Policy examined the relationship between housing vouchers and crime in ten U.S. cities, including D.C. Their evidence shows that people using vouchers choose to live in neighborhoods where crime is high and rising.

That may be due to a number of reasons. As crime increases, vacancies increase and rents drop, meaning landlords may be more willing to take people using housing vouchers. Also, voucher holders can only live in neighborhoods with affordable rental housing, “and they may only know about—or feel comfortable pursuing—a certain set of those neighborhoods, given their networks of social and family ties,” the study’s authors note.

More than 11,000 D.C. families use housing vouchers. The D.C. Housing Authority launched an initiative this summer, Beyond the Voucher, to help such families dispel the negative stereotypes often associated with housing voucher holders.

http://dcentric.wamu.org/2011/12/why-crime-is-high-where-housing-voucher-users-live/feed/ 1
Fraudulent Fundraising for a Good Cause http://dcentric.wamu.org/2011/09/fraudulent-fundraising-for-a-good-cause/ http://dcentric.wamu.org/2011/09/fraudulent-fundraising-for-a-good-cause/#comments Mon, 26 Sep 2011 18:59:05 +0000 Anna http://dcentric.wamu.org/?p=10868 Continue reading ]]>

Flickr: Images_of_Money

Blogger Mari of “In Shaw” alerts us to a possible scam:

There is a scam going on where a youth will knock on the door of a resident and ask for money for…the Eastern Branch Boys & Girls Club, which has been closed for 5 years. As far as I can tell minors are not supposed to do any fundraising of this sort (going door to door, going on the Metro, etc) for the Boys & Girls Club.

Unfortunately there wasn’t any guidance on what to do when one encounters one of these youths.

The Eastern branch has been closed for five years, Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner Gigi Ransom confirmed on the MPD-5D listserv, an email list hosted by MPD to alert subscribers to news and information for the fifth police district.

“Report it as a crime. Call 311 and report it, like any other crime,” said Sgt. Raul Mendez, public information officer for the police department. He added that having a description of the kids and where they are targeting people for donations would be helpful.

“But when they approach you, ask them for identification, a call-back number, something official” and give the information to police, Mendez said. The documents could be fake, in which case police would consider that fraud.

http://dcentric.wamu.org/2011/09/fraudulent-fundraising-for-a-good-cause/feed/ 1
“Lazy Policing” and a Hate Crime in Columbia Heights: Your Take http://dcentric.wamu.org/2011/08/lazy-policing-and-a-hate-crime-in-columbia-heights/ http://dcentric.wamu.org/2011/08/lazy-policing-and-a-hate-crime-in-columbia-heights/#comments Thu, 11 Aug 2011 15:55:41 +0000 Anna http://dcentric.wamu.org/?p=9616 Continue reading ]]>

Flickr: aliciagriffin

Columbia Heights Metro, as seen from 14th Street NW.

There are some lessons that can be learned from an incident late last month when five women were assaulted by two men near the Columbia Heights Metro, according to observers. Originally, the men were flirtatious, but when one of the women identified another as her partner, the men shouted homophobic slurs, then physically attacked them.

Chai Shenoy of Holla Back DC noted that it was a bystander who called police. “Kudos,” Shenoy said. “Community engagement is key to creating safe spaces in DC.”

She said Police Chief Cathy Lanier was smart to send a strong signal by investigating the police officers who were involved.

Shenoy said that’s key “with the increase of gender-based crimes happening in the LGBTQ community.”

D.C. residents used social media to air their concerns about the case:

http://dcentric.wamu.org/2011/08/lazy-policing-and-a-hate-crime-in-columbia-heights/feed/ 2
Weed Arrests and Racial Disparities http://dcentric.wamu.org/2011/08/weed-arrests-and-racial-disparities/ http://dcentric.wamu.org/2011/08/weed-arrests-and-racial-disparities/#comments Thu, 04 Aug 2011 16:36:33 +0000 Elahe Izadi http://dcentric.wamu.org/?p=9430 Continue reading ]]>

Torben Hansen / Flickr

Racial disparities in drug enforcement are well-documented. Today, Washington City Paper‘s Rend Smith digs into how this plays out in the District, where black residents are eight times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession than whites.

Smith writes about the common notion that white people tend to buy and smoke marijuana inside their homes, as opposed to African Americans who deal and smoke outside more frequently:

Court records for some of those arrested east of the river back that belief up. They describe vice officers spotting suspects engaging in open-air blazing or buying from street corner dealers. One subject “was walking down the street smoking a brown cigar” when cops spotted him. The recklessness involved would seem to disqualify disparate rates of marijuana arrests in the city as a civil rights issue: Black smokers are choosing to be flagrant about their pot use and so attracting the attention of cops who have no choice but to grab them.

But even if assumptions about smoking and dealing habits are solid, that doesn’t mean there’s no problem with the way marijuana laws are currently being enforced in black and white neighborhoods. Taking my own experience as an African American who grew up poor into account, I remember some family and friends who puffed outside—whether that involved a pack of Kools or a joint meticulously sculpted from Top rolling papers—out of respect for others in their household, particularly where there was more than one generation (and therefore more than one set of moral values) under one roof. Dealing inside the house would have been all the more inappropriate. Although that’s certainly not the situation for every black person who tokes up or does a hand-off in Ward 7 or Ward 8, the idea is that you can’t just assume they’re being belligerent, and therefore asking for repercussions.

The problem becomes even more pronounced in D.C., given the city’s high incarceration rate (fourth in the nation, when compared to states). Marijuana possession can land you six months in jail and up to $1,000 in fines.

http://dcentric.wamu.org/2011/08/weed-arrests-and-racial-disparities/feed/ 0
Latinos Present Opportunities for Crime in Columbia Heights http://dcentric.wamu.org/2011/08/latinos-present-opportunities-for-crime-in-columbia-heights/ http://dcentric.wamu.org/2011/08/latinos-present-opportunities-for-crime-in-columbia-heights/#comments Wed, 03 Aug 2011 17:31:32 +0000 Anna http://dcentric.wamu.org/?p=9335 Continue reading ]]>

Flickr via blahmni

Fiesta D.C. 2010, Mount Pleasant

D.C. Assistant Police Chief Diane Groomes says that the Metropolitan Police Department is facing “challenges” in and around Columbia Heights, where Latino immigrants are often the targets of a growing number of robberies and assaults:

The reason? “I think people realize they might be carrying cash, also they might not report it to police, so I think they become victims of crime more than others…they present a unique opportunity,.” Groomes said.

The area, which law enforcement call Police Service Area 302, is bordered by 16th Street NW, Harvard Street NW and Park Place NW, and it’s 31 percent Hispanic. Groomes characterized the incidents as crimes of opportunity, not hate crimes.

Didier Sinisterra, deputy director of the Mayor’s Office of Latino Affairs confirmed that the office is working with police to provide information to Latino residents on protecting themselves. .

“We have identified three key locations where we will be doing local outreach to inform people and hand out additional information: Spring Road, Mount Pleasant St and Columbia Heights.”

According to Sinisterra, the outreach efforts received a positive response. “We engage our community, go into local businesses. We let people know about the situation and we encourage them not to carry a lot of cash. We chose Friday because that is when a lot of Latinos get paid.”

OLA is also encouraging people to open bank accounts, so that they aren’t carrying large amounts of cash. This week, they will be in Mount Pleasant on Friday, from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m.

Josie Rizo, who works on the 1400 block of Irving St NW isn’t concerned. “So far nothing has happened and I’ve been working here for a year now,” she said, adding that she would go to the police if she is targeted by a crime. “I feel pretty safe…In this area especially, there are a lot of people walking around, so that helps.”

http://dcentric.wamu.org/2011/08/latinos-present-opportunities-for-crime-in-columbia-heights/feed/ 2
Homicide Rate in D.C. Dropping, but Racial Disparity Still Large http://dcentric.wamu.org/2011/06/homicide-rate-in-d-c-dropping-but-racial-disparity-still-large/ http://dcentric.wamu.org/2011/06/homicide-rate-in-d-c-dropping-but-racial-disparity-still-large/#comments Tue, 21 Jun 2011 21:16:31 +0000 Elahe Izadi http://dcentric.wamu.org/?p=8151 Continue reading ]]>

Flickr: Tony Webster

D.C.’s homicide rate is dropping, but blacks are still disproportionately affected, according to Metropolitan Police Department statistics. Greater Greater Washington reports:

D.C.’s black homicide figures are still much higher than comparable rates at the national level. In fact, on a per resident basis, blacks in the District face over double the homicide rate as blacks in the nation as a whole.

There were 1.3 homicides per every 100,000 white D.C. residents in 2010, the same year that saw 37.7 homicides per every 100,000 black D.C. residents.

Homicide Watch D.C. editor Laura Amico, whose mission is to document every homicide in the District, wrote in a GGW comment:

It is so tragic to add victim photo after victim photo to the albums and see young black man after young black man (with some exceptions). Sit through court and you see much the same parade. The one thing that becomes so clear is that in homicides, there are so many more victims than just those that are killed. All the families and so many friends, of both victims and defendants, are impacted and affected by the deaths, too.

Communities are affected by violence in multiple ways. Take health: violence, or even the perception of violence, can prevent young and old alike from being physically active, as we’ve previously noted:

Obesity rates are higher in Wards 6, 7 and 8 than elsewhere in the city. Ward 8, which has the highest homicide rate, also has the lowest physical activity rate. According to D.C.’s Overweight and Obesity Action Plan, 15 percent of all deaths in the District are a result of obesity. But in some parts of the District, the fear of getting shot while walking in your neighborhood can trump the more subtle reality of dying from an obesity-related illness.

http://dcentric.wamu.org/2011/06/homicide-rate-in-d-c-dropping-but-racial-disparity-still-large/feed/ 0
Update on Easter Monday Stabbing at Zoo http://dcentric.wamu.org/2011/04/update-on-easter-monday-stabbing-at-zoo/ http://dcentric.wamu.org/2011/04/update-on-easter-monday-stabbing-at-zoo/#comments Tue, 26 Apr 2011 23:11:11 +0000 Anna http://dcentric.wamu.org/?p=6141 Continue reading ]]>

Flickr: Smithsonian’s National Zoo

The crowd reached 25,000 at the National Zoo yesterday, on Easter Monday.

Mshairi Alkebular, the 16-year old who allegedly stabbed another teen during Easter Monday celebrations at the National Zoo yesterday will be charged as an adult, according to WUSA9:

Charging documents show the victim identified (Alkebular) by photo.

According to charging documents, the victim said he was stabbed twice in the right elbow area by Alkebular inside the National Zoo and police broke up the fight.

Then, according to documents, Alkebular and others exited the zoo and chased McNeal again. Alkebular allegedly stabbed him four more times in the chest.

African American families have been visiting the National Zoo on the day after Easter for over a century. WUSA’s Bruce Johnson said that the victim is 14-years old and is now in stable condition. NBC reported that the attack was gang-related.

http://dcentric.wamu.org/2011/04/update-on-easter-monday-stabbing-at-zoo/feed/ 1
Teen Stabbed at Zoo’s Easter Monday Celebration http://dcentric.wamu.org/2011/04/teen-stabbed-at-zoos-easter-monday-celebration/ http://dcentric.wamu.org/2011/04/teen-stabbed-at-zoos-easter-monday-celebration/#comments Mon, 25 Apr 2011 22:03:48 +0000 Anna http://dcentric.wamu.org/?p=6112 Continue reading ]]> A teenager was stabbed today at the National Zoo, on Easter Monday, a day traditionally celebrated by African American families:

Update - stabbing - 2900 blk Connecticut av NW - EMS transporting - 1 teenage male - priority 1 - serious, potentially life-threatening

According to this report, the boy was wounded several times. A similar incident occurred on Easter Monday in 2000, when seven young people were shot.

The tradition of celebrating Easter a day late at the zoo originated over a century ago:

The free gathering, which dates back to the 1890s, almost as far as the White House Easter Egg Roll. Oral history says that black domestic workers were required to work on Easter Sunday, so Monday was the day of family celebration. And since the White House in those segregated days either didn’t allow or strongly discouraged African-Americans at its egg roll, the District’s black residents created their own.

http://dcentric.wamu.org/2011/04/teen-stabbed-at-zoos-easter-monday-celebration/feed/ 0