Thursday, January 24, 2008

Community Policing Comes to Adams Morgan Tonight

Community Policing came to Adams Morgan tonight when Sergeant Aceto brought his friends from the Latino Liaison Unit to the Mary Center to meet with the tenants of 2359 and 2401 Ontario Road, NW.

The buildings of 2359 and 2401 Ontario Road have been under siege for a long time from a lot of sides. The landlord is an absentee slumlord. The city levied fines against the buildings’ owners for housing code violations, but the city has not begun the collection of the fines. The hallways were lined with gang graffiti and solid waste for a long time before ANC Commissioner Wilson Reynolds got involved, at the request of the tenants and neighbors. The buildings are in his single member district. The tenants came to the Adams Morgan Advisory Neighborhood Commission meeting in October 2007. One mother showed video of a shower from the ceiling in her kitchen that happened nightly at 8:00 pm. The Commissioners decided to help the tenants clean the buildings, starting with painting the hallways and plugging up rat holes.

The landlord decided to retaliate by suing one commissioner for a hundred thousand dollars, claiming destruction of property. The DC Office of the Attorney General, under the former OAG, refused to take the case. ANC commissioners are by law indemnified against these kinds of lawsuits. Four of us took part in the clean-up. The only commissioner being sued is the one who “led the charge” to address the problems the tenants were dealing with daily. It’s his Single Member District and his responsibility.

Tonight the tenants met with the police to address the issues of crime in their buildings. Jose Sueiro translated while Officer Rodriguez spoke to the tenants of how to be safe from ATM robberies and telephone scams. After the scripted issues came issues of the building: Michelle goes out every morning early and sees a police car parked across the street with an officer sleeping inside. Sergeant Aceto told her to get the number of the car and report it and told her where to find the number of the car. There was a discussion of a homeless person living on the top floor of 2359, and marijuana smoking in the hallway and possible prostitution going on in one of the apartments. The tenants were given directions on what to do. There were ten tenants, 3 commissioners and 5 MPD representatives at tonight’s meeting.

The group of people who came to the ANC in October have now incorporated into a Tenants Association. That makes the situation more viable, more believable, more reason to hope for a bright outcome for the people who live in the two buildings.

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