DC police leaders meet with clergy to tackle growing crime concerns

D.C. leaders including Police Chief Cathy Lanier met with local clergy from different religions to address the growing crime concerns in the city.

The closed-door meeting was held at the Allen Chapel AME Church on Alabama Avenue in Southeast D.C. and the main topic of concern that was discussed was violence.

Chief Lanier said 70 percent of the homicides in the District over the past several years have consistently happened on this side of the Anacostia River. As we get to the warmer months, the crime in the District as it stands now has worsened over last year's spike, which was already drastically higher than the year before.

Just last week, a 29-year-old man was shot and killed on Langston Place in Southeast. This block has had seven people killed over the last three years.

Violent crime in D.C. is up compared to last year. There have been 53 homicides this year, up three from this point last year. In Ward 7, the homicide count has more than tripled compared to last year.

The police chief said synthetic drugs and guns with high-capacity magazine continue to be a major force behind the uptick in violence.

"This is a bigger problem than just putting a police officer on every corner," said Chief Lanier. "Everybody has to come together and work together to resolve this problem - 70 percent of the homicides in the city - the same where we are right now today. What is driving the issue in the Sixth District this year? Last year, the Sixth District had the highest reduction in violent crime, and all kinds of reductions and issues in the Seventh District. You can't look year-by-year and day-by-day. You really have to look over time."

"How do we engage youth who either fear the police or don't trust the police?" said Pastor Frazier White. "How do we engage and create relationships between people who have animosity with each other. So you have a disconnect among people in the same community as well as with the police. It becomes challenging."

Lanier said so far this year, there have been seven All Hands on Deck orders, and if she feels her officers need backup as the crime continues to spike, she said she will continue to order them.