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Mayor Adrian Fenty and MPD Chief Cathy Lanier 
Press release
: Expanded Public Safety Initiatives
June 4, 2008




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News Release for Immediate Release
June 4, 2008

Mayor, Chief: Expanded Public Safety Initiatives Aimed

Today, Mayor Adrian M. Fenty and Metropolitan Police Chief Cathy Lanier announced the expansion of the Focused Improvement Area (FIA) initiative into four new neighborhoods and the creation of the Neighborhood Safety Zones (NSZ) initiative. Both programs are targeted initiatives aimed at reducing criminal activity and increasing quality of life in at-risk communities.

“The residents of the District of Columbia depend on their government to keep the city where they live, work and play safe,” said Fenty. “These initiatives allow us to deploy tools we already have available in a targeted way to have the greatest impact.”

Expanding Focused Improvement Areas

The Focused Improvement Areas were established as a pilot program in November 2007 to combine an increased law enforcement presence with support from human service agencies and community-based organizations to address deeper societal issues facing at-risk communities. The program will be expanded into four new neighborhoods (maps attached), which will bring the total number of FIAs to seven. FIAs involve several District agencies in cooperation with non-governmental community-based organizations to address the root causes of crime by increasing employment services, engaging youth in meaningful activities, promoting individual health, well being and family strengthening, and improving neighborhood appearance.

In addition to intensified efforts to improve neighborhood appearance, human services resources are focused on at-risk individuals, their families and households. Individuals and households selected for direct outreach and intervention are identified through public safety information and outreach led by non-governmental volunteers including faith-based groups and government agencies and school outreach, with an emphasis on root-cause analysis. Crime statistics have shown overall reductions in crime in the pilot FIAs, particularly in the categories of assaults and automobile theft.

The new FIAs are located in the Third, Fourth, Fifth and Seventh police districts. Lead District agencies for FIAs include the Department of Employment Services, Department of Human Services, Department of Parks and Recreation, Department of Health and Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs.

Neighborhood Safety Zones

The Neighborhood Safety Zone initiative has been developed to help increase security for those who live in high-crime areas around the city and to help residents reclaim their communities. The program will authorize the Metropolitan Police Department to set up public safety checks to help safeguard community members and create safer neighborhoods in the District by increasing police presence aimed at deterring crime. 

The safety zones will be established only upon request by a District Commander where there is evidence to support the existence of neighborhood violent crime, such as intelligence, violent crime data, police reports and feedback and concerns from the affected community. 

Potential Neighborhood Safety Zones must be approved by the Chief of Police, and will be in effect for a maximum of 10 days. Public safety checks will be established along the main thoroughfares of the established neighborhoods. Anyone driving into a designated area may be asked to show valid identification with a home address in that neighborhood, or to provide an explanation for entering the NSZ, such as attending church, a doctor’s appointment or visiting friends or relatives. Pedestrians will not be subject to the public safety checks. 

“The Neighborhood Safety Zones is just another tool MPD will employ to stop crime before it happens. The Neighborhood Safety Zone initiative will help residents terrorized by violent crime to take back their neighborhoods,” said Chief Lanier.

Initiatives such as the Neighborhood Safety Zones have been accepted by federal courts as a legitimate law enforcement practice in keeping with the Constitution’s Fourth Amendment. The constitutionality of the NSZ initiative has been reviewed by the D.C. Office of the Attorney General. 

The NSZ will be launched next week in the Trinidad area.

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