The fear of calling 311/911
- On one of the Ward 4 listservs, several people
responded to the most recent discussion of residents
fearing calling 311/911. I posted this response and
thought I should share it with a few other listservs.
Again this week, I was reminded of the problem facing
those of us who are working to make our neighborhoods
safer. In a neighborhood potluck here in Petworth on
Tuesday night, one senior who's been living here for
several decades told me she won't call the police "for
fear of retaliation by the drug dealers."
I do not believe MPD is doing enough to address this,
and I would like to hear the thoughts of of MPD
I would suggest that MPD officers go door-to-door in
more troubled areas, introduce themselves and pass out
a flyer stating the importance of this. I and several
people in my immediate neighborhood will assist MPD in
this and walk with the officers in the areas where
drug dealing is rampant -- as it is in too many areas
in Petworth. I would urge others to do similarly in
their own neighborhoods.
I know for fact that not enough residents know
officers by name. What can we do to change that?
MPD also needs to address the notion that some
residents hold onto dearly that some cops "benefit"
from the drug dealing and that some cops reveal the
identity of those who call 911/311 to the drug
These beliefs are corrosive and need to be addressed
I can't emphasize enough how much of a problem this is
if we want to make our neighborhoods safer.
For those residents willing to step up to the plate: I
am making a point of telling anyone in my immediate
neighborhood who fears calling 311/911 to call me so
that I can call for them. If you feel comfortable
doing that in your own immediate neighborhoods, please
I was told by one elderly couple few months back that
they would only call 911 if their own lives were at
stake. If they heard something at the end of the
block, heard someone screaming for help after hearing
gunfire, they wouldn't call.
How disturbing is that?
Shades of an infamous case in Queens, New York in the
spring of 1964 where Kitty Genovese was stabbed to
death, screaming for help. There were 38 witnesses. No
one did a thing. "I didn't want to get involved."
Passivity is not an option.
I urge everyone on this board to network with
neighbors and try to figure out a solution to this. In
some area, residents have set up telephone trees so
that there are volumes of calls when needed.
I also urge MPD not to be passive about working
against the corrosive, destruction views that some
residents seem determined to hold onto, regardless of
Thanks for your time.
ANC 4C09 Commissioner
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