D.C. Police Circulate New PSA Revisions

Posted October 24, 2003 at 2:52pm

Plans to restructure the Capitol Hill neighborhood’s police service areas — part of a broader Metropolitan Police Department effort to revamp its community policing program — have undergone significant changes following resident opposition to the initial proposal unveiled earlier this year.

Under a revised proposal being circulated by MPD, several of the new PSAs in the department’s first district — which comprises the Hill and its environs — would be realigned along a north-south orientation and reconfigured to create an additional area, bringing the total number of PSAs in the first district to seven.

Police service areas were created in 1997 to foster community involvement by assigning officers to specific neighborhoods.

The initial plan — released in May — roughly split the first district’s 12 current PSAs into six larger areas, predominantly oriented along an east-west axis, which some residents complained created unwieldy areas with vastly different policing needs and crime distribution rates.

“We received a number of different comments from PSA 106 community members about aligning vertically, rather than horizontally,” said MPD’s Anne Grant, a policy analyst in the Office of Organizational Development. “They were the only residents in the city to send in their own versions” of maps.

MPD also shifted the new PSA 102’s western boundary from 14th Street Northeast to Eighth Street Northeast — a move that diminishes the crime levels of the new PSA 102, said John Wirt, whose current PSA 106 will be incorporated into 102.

“I see it as a satisfactory plan,” said Wirt, who helped spearhead neighborhood efforts to have the lines changed.

But not everyone is pleased with the revisions. Jennifer Flather of fifth district PSA 511 — slated to be incorporated into the new PSA 103 — said the shift in boundary essentially would benefit the new PSA 102 at the expense of the new PSA 103.

“I’m not happy,” she said, adding “there’s no way in hell [MPD] can control the PSA on such a large basis” without breaking it down into smaller patrol areas.

Since the initial proposal was released last spring, residents have charged that new, larger PSAs — proposed by MPD to allow for more flexibility in scheduling — would do little to foster a greater sense of community involvement in neighborhood policing. And in response to such concerns, the D.C. City Council recently passed emergency legislation requiring the police department to bring the restructuring plan to the council for a 60-day review once it is completed.

MPD is in the process of meeting with each council member to present its revised PSA vision and hopes to have finalized boundaries ready for the council by early November, said Nola Joyce, senior executive director of MPD’s Office of Organizational Development.

Councilwoman Kathy Patterson (D-Ward 3) has committed to convening a public hearing once the council receives the plan, but Joyce said MPD will “begin our work internally to make changes” as soon as the department’s plan is received by the council.

Joyce said MPD hopes to have the restructuring implemented by early next year.