DC residents express frustration, seek solutions in combating city's violence

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D.C. residents are fed up with the violence in the city. There have been 98 homicides so far this year in the District and this summer has been particularly violent.

Now, the community is demanding answers from city leaders.

Mayor Muriel Bowser and Police Chief Cathy Lanier have given several reasons for the crime spike ranging from synthetic marijuana, illegal firearms and even craps game that have led to violent disputes and robberies.

But solutions in solving this ongoing problem remain unclear.

Ward 7 Councilmember Yvette Alexander met with residents Wednesday night in Southeast D.C. for a community meeting to discuss what has been going on in their neighborhood.

"I have one son and I love my son," said one resident. "I don't want nobody knocking on my door saying I'm sorry, when he was going to work or when he was coming home or wherever he was going, he was killed. It's not right and I believe the chief of police can do more."

"I'm only 17 and I've already been to as many funerals as my age," said a teenager who addressed the crowd. "That shows you how many people we have lost here -- people who don't have role models, people who need somebody to talk to."

"I have a 22-year-old and a 17-year-old," another woman told the audience. "I stay in their business. Before that young man took that mother's life, he was in somebody's home. Before someone who did a drive-by, they were in somebody's home. I know this is not everything. This is not old. What I'm saying is I don't care how much we come to get on the police, I don't care how much we get on teachers -- it starts from home."

Missing for the majority of the meeting was Mayor Bowser. Although Councilmember Alexander said Bowser was not invited to the meeting, the mayor did show up at around 8:30 p.m. and stayed until the end of the meeting.

When asked again what is driving the increase of violence in the city, Bowser said it was not just one single thing, but referred again to synthetic drugs and illegal guns.

Chief Lanier also spoke at the meeting adding the police department is feeling a lot of push back from the community because of the Ferguson effect.

Several days ago, a member of the D.C. Police Union pointed to the elimination of district level vice units as a factor in the violence.

Lanier defended her decision to get rid of street level drug investigations.

"The centralization of those narcotics units, to have them all housed in one place, because the tactics that the seven separate vice units were using to battle the drug markets for the past 20 years were not effective today," she said. "We needed to centralize those narcotics efforts under a single management and give them extra training and extra technology and extra tools to do so.

"And so far ... we've had 550 narcotics arrests this year. Now I'm out of the business of arresting users and addicts."