Guest Column: Jim Graham

Jim GrahanAs we close out 2013 we once again give thanks to Laura and Chris Amico and the Homicide Watch Team of volunteers. Your work reminds all of us of the spirit of community service and ways in which each one of us can contribute to improving quality of life — and in particular — public safety.

Each year I receive scores and scores of emails and phone calls from Ward One constituents concerning neighborhood safety. There is no more important constituent service than neighborhood safety.

Ward One is safer today than it was fifteen years ago — five years ago — even last year. There is no doubt we are safer due to the daily attention we receive from MPD Chief Cathy Lanier, Third District Commander Jacob Kishter, Fourth District Commander Kimberly Missouri, and our 3D and 4D MPD officers.

Our community prosecutors at the US Attorney’s Office and the DC Office of Attorney General team daily with MPD to make solid arrests and get the bad guys off the street. Just within the last few days the USAO has successfully prosecuted several members of Ward One gangs that have long held neighborhoods - - and other young people - - hostage. We have seen a decrease in gang and crew related shootings, stabbings, and fights in our neighborhoods and schools over the last year.

District agencies like the Departments of Youth Rehabilitation Services and Human Services - - both under the purview of the Committee on Human Services which I Chair - - work closely with MPD and my office to deliver intervention services to persons at risk of bringing harm to themselves and the community. DC Departments of Transportation and Public Works help keep streets and alleys well lit, clean, and safe. The new Department of Behavioral Health offers mental health and substance abuse street outreach teams to help provide services to those who need it the most.

Ward One schools and community based organizations also contribute significantly to making our neighborhoods safe. Countless after school programs, health services, parent support groups, and youth leadership development programs are available in multicultural settings throughout the Ward.

All of us have been touched by the Navy Yard shooting this year. Our hearts go out to the families, friends, and colleagues of the 12 persons killed there - - and all those who lost their lives in senseless violence in the District this year.

May the memory of loved ones taken away from us in 2013 bring all of us closer to each other in 2014.

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