MPD patrol car sitting on First Street NE (Elise Kline/ 最新蜜桃影像).

Rise in violent crime in NoMa creates anxiety for residents

The Metropolitan Police Department believes they are working to address residents鈥 safety concerns and reduce violent crime.

NoMa residents expressed concern over a recent increase in violent crime. Laura Hernandez, NoMa resident, said even though she feels relatively safe walking around her neighborhood, she is still always looking over her shoulder.

鈥淵ou kinda always have to have your guard up,鈥 Hernandez said.

Another NoMa resident, Gabriella Fernandez, said she feels similarly.

鈥淚 feel relatively safe, but I still am cautious in the way I think most women are cautious in a city when it鈥檚 darker or less populated,鈥 Fernandez said.

According tofrom MPD, dangerous weapon assault increased over 1200 percent from 2019 to 2020. That trajectory has remained the same for 2021. The number of dangerous weapon assault incidents jumped from 4 in 2019 to 54 in 2020 and is currently at 47 to date, for 2021.

Source: Pictured is a screen grab of MPD鈥檚 crime card data website, representing three years of dangerous weapon assault crime within 2000 feet of 22 M Street NE. The year total includes 2019, 2020 and 2021.

Because this number is so dramatic, the Wash contacted MPD to verify the data posted on their website is correct. MPD verified that it is accurate.

Hernandez said she lives close to First St. NE, pictured here, and that she sees a lot of residents walking their dogs which helps bring her some comfort when feeling worried about her safety walking alone. (Elise Kline/最新蜜桃影像).

Neighboring NoMa resident, Caty Jay, who lives in Trinidad, said she normally has confidence walking home alone at night because of the self-defense classes she takes, but after becoming a victim of a recent attack with multiple assailants, she said she feels more fearful.

鈥淚 feel like if it were one or two people, I might be able to get away,鈥 Jay said. 鈥淎t the same time, it was not one or two people 鈥 it was four.鈥

Dustin Sternbeck, director of communications for MPD, stated in an email that the department鈥檚 data query shows an increase in dangerous weapon assault crimes in NoMa, and they are committed to addressing residents鈥 concerns.

鈥淲e recognize the negative impact that these incidents have on the community and are committed to violence prevention,鈥 Sternbeck stated.

Illegal guns fill the streets

Sternbeck replied that in addition to an increase in weapon assault crimes, they have also seen an increase in the number of confiscated firearms since 2019. MPD confiscated nearly 1,998 firearms in 2019 and 2,028 within 2021 thus far.

In an effort to reduce violent crime, Sternbeck stated they have implemented an intelligence-led policing strategy.

鈥淭his approach targets individuals we know are committing violent acts and uses data-driven deployment strategies to supplement existing patrol,鈥 Sternbeck told the Wash. 鈥淥ur members remain focused on removing illegal guns from our neighborhoods, holding violent offenders accountable and preventing crime.鈥

Fernandez said she is confident that MPD is confiscating more illegal firearms off the streets of D.C., but at the same time it is also very concerning to hear how many there were in the first place.

Fernandez said a few weeks ago she made dinner reservations at Copy Cat, a local H Street restaurant, and right before she left her home she got a call from them asking if she wanted to keep her reservations because there had been a shooting just outside the restaurant.

鈥淚t was one of those things where you鈥檙e like, 鈥榃ow, that鈥檚 like super scary to think about,鈥欌 Fernandez said. 鈥淭o think I might have been walking down there to grab food.鈥

Fernandez said gun violence has become a rising concern for her, as she hears more and more about it from both news outlets and friends.

According to recent data released from MPD, gun violence is on the rise. Last week D.C. reached its 200th homicide by gun violence 鈥 a number not seen in 2003.

Source: Data retrieved from the 听

MPD say they plan to keep residents safe

Sternbeck stated that reducing violent crime and making D.C. a safe community is of the utmost importance to MPD.

鈥淥ur agency goal is for Washington, D.C. to be the safest city in the world, and we work tirelessly to make our community safe,鈥 Sternbeck stated.

In addition to the intelligence-led policing strategy, Sternbeck wrote that MPD has implemented other initiatives to reduce violent crime.

Sternbeck stated that MPD recently kicked off their summer and fall crime prevention initiative, which serves as a collaborative effort to 鈥渞educe violent crime through strategic prevention and focused enforcement.鈥

Pictured is the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives located on New York Ave, NW. Caption (Elise Kline/最新蜜桃影像).

Sternbeck also stated that MPD recently created the National Integrated Ballistic Information Network (NIBIN) Investigations Unit that partners with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) and the United States Attorney鈥檚 Office in D.C.

Back in July, MPD created a community-focused patrol unit deployed to areas of the city based on data analysis to address critical incidents and key community concerns, Sternbeck stated.

Finally, Sternbeck stated that MPD kicked off a district-wide engagement initiative a few weeks ago, with a mission to have MPD officers interact with as many community members as possible.

Sternbeck told the Wash that all of these initiatives are only a handful of methods MPD plans to use to address violent crime in the community, and they are committed to continuing their efforts.

鈥淲hile these are just a few examples of ways we are addressing crime and engaging community, we will continue to be laser-focused on curbing violence, particularly gun violence,鈥 Sternbeck replied.

NoMa residents said they are happy to see initiatives being put in place to discourage gun violence, but they also have concerns.

Fernandez said she hopes the new initiatives are听 effective, but she does have concerns about the wider impact when it comes to the community.

She said she lives in a 鈥減retty diverse鈥 neighborhood, and she is concerned about an increased police presence based on what she has seen recently around police interactions with marginalized populations, especially when weapons are involved.

鈥淲e鈥檝e seen very publicly how well that can go, depending on the community that you belong to and how you鈥檙e perceived by members of law enforcement,鈥 Fernandez said.

Jay said she is also happy that MPD is attempting to do something to discourage gun violence, but she hopes it doesn鈥檛 stop there.

鈥淚 just hope that they don鈥檛 use that as a 鈥榳ell we鈥檙e tryin鈥 鈥 we don鈥檛 have to do anything else because, you know, we鈥檙e gettin鈥 stuff. We have a number here, here you go,鈥欌 Jay said. 鈥淟ike, we can鈥檛 stop there.鈥


Elise Kline

I鈥檓 an investigative journalist covering public health, racial injustice and gender inequality. I am a graduate student at American University, currently working as a graduate assistant for Dr. Sherri Williams.

I have written articles for Her Campus, Ash & Rose and Live With Plum, focusing on social issues such as gender inequality and poverty. In 2020, I covered young feminist heroes making strides against period poverty and sexual assault awareness.

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