WASHINGTON (DC News Now) — District officials said public safety investments in entertainment corridors are paying off, with reductions of crime in nightlife areas.
“During the last year and a half, PSJ has demonstrated repeatedly our ability to lead public safety efforts such as Go Teams, community resource popups and our multi-agency public safety task forces,” said Deputy Mayor for Public Safety and Justice Lindsey Appiah.
Appiah provided testimony during an oversight budget hearing Wednesday.
“Our task forces bring a collaborative approach to address violent crime and other concerns in key corridors and nightlife areas,” she said.
According to a tweet by Appiah’s office — which was later confirmed by a mayoral spokesperson — crime is down in three areas where the District’s nightlife task forces are focusing.
That includes a 28% reduction in crime on the U Street corridor between June and December of 2022; a 20% reduction in crime on the H Street corridor; and a 616% reduction in crime on the Connecticut Avenue corridor.
Those task forces, which were launched last year, focus on reducing violence in those areas on weekend nights.
“I think the nightlife task force addresses, in a comprehensive manner, what’s happening on the street before you go into a club, in the club as you‘re operating and then afterwards,” said Bill McLeod, Executive Director of the Dupont BID, which advocates for businesses north of Dupont Circle.
He said prior to the task force launching, crime was apparent on Connecticut Avenue.
“We saw a lot of maverick behavior where people were coming to the clubs and then doing whatever they wanted late at night,” he said.
McLeod said there has been a noticeable difference since then.
“Crime is down in the neighborhood compared to last year, so that’s very optimistic,” he said.
Still, south of Dupont Circle one business owner was more skeptical.
“A couple of weeks ago we got broken into around 4 in the morning,” said Alejandro Ventura, co-owner of Zebbie’s Garden and the Mayflower Club.
Ventura said the task force is noticeable on the weekends.
“They like to control the traffic that comes in and out of the area, which is great because it does help with the flow of the traffic, but also that creates a lag of people that come into the area,” he said. “Since they’re concentrating in front of our businesses, every other area around it is left untouched.”
He said car and store break-ins still happen.
“There’s N Street and 18th — you still see at the end of the night cars that got broken into, and there’s nobody on those corners,” he explained.
He said he’d like to see more police visibility in the entire area, not just on the Connecticut Avenue strip.
As for McLeod, he wants to see the task force continue its work. But, with an expanded focus and regulating liquor licenses.