WASHINGTON - Robberies are becoming such a problem in the District that officials have formed a special task force to combat the issue.
D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser announced the creation of a robbery task force on Wednesday. It's made up of city police, Metro Transit police, federal prosecutors and lawyers from the city attorney general's office.
Members of the task force have been positioned across the city since early December, watching police cameras in real time, talking to sources and moving in quickly to stop the recent trend of street robberies, which are up 5 percent.
“Last year it was a run by and snatch a cellphone type of robbery, but what we are seeing now is a small group that will commit robbery after robbery after robbery – four, five six in a night,” said D.C. Police Chief Cathy Lanier.
Officials talked about involving the public, getting out video and pictures of suspects quickly. We wanted to know why it took almost two weeks for Metro’s police chief to release pictures from a recent assault on a Red Line train that stemmed from a robbery.
“What did you have earlier this week that you didn’t have two weeks ago that enabled you to release these pictures?” asked FOX 5’s Matt Ackland.
“Cooperation from our witnesses and cooperation from our victim,” Metro Transit Police Chief Ron Pavlik responded.
Pavlik said tips have been pouring in after the pictures were finally released this week.
Meanwhile, a crime scene unfolded not far from the news conference on Wednesday. As a television crew from another local station was covering the event, its vehicle window was smashed and a computer was stolen.
The mayor's office noted that while robberies increased last year, the long-term trends are still favorable. There were 22 percent fewer robberies in 2015 than in 2007.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.