DC Police launch new mobile unit amid rise in violence

DC Police announced a new mobile unit within the department that will be engaging the community on bikes and scooters.

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This new "Community Focused Patrol Unit" is pulling officers out of their cruisers and into areas of high crime and gun violence--now patrolling on mountain bikes and scooters.

FOX 5 asked Chief Robert Contee what he would say to those who might call this just another "dog and pony show" with DC violence now in the national spotlight. The Chief quickly responded saying this is something he’s been working on for weeks.

"Community members send me pictures of individuals, individual losses and cars and hey look this also could be engagement where here's an opportunity again for our officers to engage," Chief Contee said. "What do we want the police to do, and what do we not want them to do. We want them to engage, this is an avenue for them to engage, let's engage our police.

The Chief says the officers volunteered for this assignment. Each unit will have three squads--one sergeant and eight officers each. FOX 5 is told police used data from both the past 14 days of this year and the next 14 days from last year to determine their target neighborhoods. 

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They’re starting with the Columbia Heights, Parkwood, Washington Highlands and Bloomingdale neighborhoods. Meanwhile, in another section of the city, a DC-area rapper lead a community march against gun violence.

 "I still got ways that I’m not proud of so sometimes I might not be quick to voice my opinions on certain stuff but when the babies start dying, that’s when enough is enough," he said. "I’m tired. Four years in a row in July we lost a minor under the age of 12."

Among those behind Wednesday’s march is a group on Instagram called "Guns Down Friday DMV." 

They marched to the 2900 block of Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue Southeast where six-year-old Nyiah Courtney lost her life in that mass shooting last Friday. 

FOX 5 asked some out there today whether they feel the Chief’s new "Community Focused Patrol Unit" will help. 

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"Police sit in that corner, police sit on that corner, so it’s still happening. I don’t think that’s going to make a change," Tonya Pinkard said. "It have to be within the community."

"Police don’t police like they used to in the 80s and 90s. They don’t get out with the kids and let them know that they’re not the bad guys, they’re actually good guys," Natasha Wiggins said. 

FOX 5 did speak with Nyiah’s grandmother today who said the six-year-old’s mother, also injured in that Friday mass shooting, is showing progress. She also says the family has not yet created any GoFundMe accounts. 

Police now have the suspect’s cars in both Nyiah’s homicide case and the suspect car in shooting outside Nationals’ Park as the investigations continue.