Over the weekend, more than 75 community members came together for a public safety meet and greet that I hosted with the 4th District MPD Commander, ANC 1A and ANC4C in Petworth.
The meet and greet gave community members an opportunity to discuss their concerns directly with MPD leadership, community leaders and elected officials to learn what is being done to decrease violence and address public safety concerns affecting their community.
Some community members passionately requested MPD to deploy more officers out on the streets in their neighborhoods. I echoed their call for increased visibility by MPD to ensure residents feel they are safe. 4th District Commander Manlapaz in turn explained that MPD wants greater community involvement and for officers to build stronger relationships with residents.
The issue of police brutality was also discussed. Far too often around the country, including here in the District of Columbia, residents of color, particularly young men, have been targeted, harassed and mistreated by law enforcement.
While discrimination and abuse are not the norm, it does occur, and any level is unacceptable. So what can we, as residents of the District, do about this problem?
The answer is not the violence and looting that we saw in Baltimore after Freddie Gray’s funeral last night. That type of behavior is unacceptable and there is no excuse in a society where we all want to help one another.
Instead, let’s work for solutions to the frustration and despair – lack of jobs, educational obtainment, homelessness and the entrenchment of poverty – that frequently besets the mistreated and voiceless that have turned to destruction in communities.
I am an advocate for better communication between neighbors and law enforcement officers. Let’s talk to each other so we can understand one another’s perspectives. Let’s train our police officers better, provide greater transparency, including moving forward on the full implementation of body cameras on our officers, and establish clear procedures against discrimination because every life matters and knows no color.
Finally, please join me in keeping our thoughts and prayers with the family of Freddie Gray, law enforcement, the peaceful demonstrators and Baltimore City officials.
If you wish to share your thoughts, please send me an email: firstname.lastname@example.org.