DC Police Chief Newsham says most cooperate with COVID-19 orders, despite several high-profile incidents

D.C. Police Chief Peter Newsham says the majority of people in the District are cooperating with officers who are sent out to enforce the city's social distancing orders. In an interview on FOX 5 Wednesday, Newsham said there have been, however, several situations where people have refused to comply.

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Several high-profile incidents -- including a large block party and an alleged attack on police at a playground -- have been captured on video. "It's unfortunate when we do have to make arrests, but we will make arrests if it's necessary,” Newsham said.

"When you look at the video of the police officer getting p punched in the face, that just shows you some of the challenges that our officers face out there every single day,” Newsham added. "That one happened to be caught on video.” He said deliberate resistance to police commands to leave the area would likely result in arrest.


"This is the way that we want the community to think about this,” Newsham said. "Think of the person that you love the most in this world -- whether it be your mom, your dad, your grandmother, your grandfather. And think about them losing their life because somebody decided to go to a block party and pass COVID-19 around as opposed to waiting a couple more weeks for the city to reopen.”

"If you think of it in those terms, I think you'll be more likely to not get involved in that type of behavior,” Newsham said.

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While some crime has gone down during the coronavirus outbreak in D.C., homicides remain persistent. Newsham spoke about 71-year-old Sheila Lucas -- a grandmother who survived being shot three decades ago and who overcame diabetes and COVID-19 – only to lose her life to a shooting while protecting her granddaughter. Newsham said the victim's son said their biggest fear was that their mother would test positive for COVID-19 – not die from gun violence.

Newsham says he expects cooperation from D.C. residents as reopening plans continue to move forward.


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