DC police have a plan to crack down on crime. Here’s how it’s going

DC police say Robbery Suppression Initiative is cracking down on crime

On a cold Thursday evening at D.C.’s police headquarters, some 30 officers gathered at the department’s operations hub before deploying to the neighborhoods displayed on four big screens in the room.

“Welcome to the 37th consecutive week of the Robbery Suppression Initiative,” Inspector Michael Pulliam said to the officers seated at long tables in the Joint Operations Command Center.

The officers, he said, would have the support of the department’s helicopter, if needed. He told them which radio channel the unit would be communicating on.

Pulliam shifted his attention to a series of maps labeled with neighborhood blocks across the city where the officers would be deployed. These were areas where data analysis predicted crimes will likely happen.

Some of the zones had changed based on trends, Pulliam said, and he believes that is due to the officers’ efforts.

“It’s a little different from our normal deployment,” Pulliam said. “That is most likely [attributed] to the effectiveness of the people in this room, that the data has shifted after we’ve been deployed in the zones.”

Pulliam assigned the officers, who earn overtime to support the unit, to each of the zones on the screens.

The next slides showed pictures of people or cars that officers had been searching for. One had an image of a suspect in a deadly shooting near the Brookland Metro Station earlier in the day. An officer read the license plate of a car involved in an Amber Alert that officers suspected could have been heading to D.C.

Breaking down crime data

Since last summer, the department’s Robbery Suppression Initiative has helped the city crack down on crime. Using statistical analysis, a team predicts where crimes are likely to occur.

On Thursday through Sunday nights, officers are assigned to one of those areas. That’s in addition to officers deployed from each police district station.

The department’s efforts began on July 27, 2023. Since then, the unit has made 381 arrests, 80 of which were juveniles, according to police data. They have also recovered 325 guns and 95 stolen cars in that time.

“It gives us the ability to have the maximum impact, when we take one sergeant and five officers and deploy six to 12 people to these areas,” Pulliam said. “There’s a visibility impact. There’s an engagement impact in that community. And it will be noticed by both people who live there and offenders who may be looking to commit offenses there.”

With all officers assigned, Pulliam started exploring some of the neighborhoods where they were deployed.

Thursday, April 4, marked the first time the unit had been deployed near Dupont Circle, a popular nightlife corridor, Pulliam said.

Later that evening, while on patrol, Pulliam said officers were positioned in alleys where recent incidents occurred.

“We have our units focusing on not the most public thoroughfares, but the areas where we have seen these offenses specifically occurring — in the alleys [and] parking lots,” Pulliam said.

Later that night around 11:30 p.m., Pulliam arrived along Independence Avenue in the city’s Hill East neighborhood where, the day before, at least two people were involved in a shooting nearby. Several police cruisers lined the street.

Pulliam said having officers there was a “statistical abnormality.”

“While it’s not currently affected by robberies, we’ve deployed some of our resources over here to increase visibility and presence,” Pulliam said.

Moments later, Pulliam’s radio alerted him to an arrest that the RSI had been involved with along Minnesota Avenue in Southeast. He turned his sirens on for the drive to the scene.

When he got there, officers said they arrested a man carrying what they suspected was an illegal gun. The man, identified as Latrell Carter, was carrying a Glock-style handgun with 17 rounds, according to police records.

“It’s an example of when we have additional resources that are not dedicated within our patrol districts, that we can go out and look for the individuals who are out here committing these violent crimes, carrying these illegal firearms,” Pulliam said.

It was one of two weapons arrests the RSI assisted with Thursday night. The group made 11 arrests and recovered eight guns last Thursday night through Sunday night. There weren’t any reports of violent crimes in the zones on the department’s radar.

‘Know that this is not the place’

“Anytime we can increase our presence and visibility, we have seen good success in reducing crime in that area,” Pulliam said. “Sometimes, it’s just a cruiser driving through those alleys a couple of times to let people know that this is not the place.”

Compared to last April, violent crime is down 22% in D.C., according to police data. Robberies are also down 18%.

The unit’s helicopter has helped with shifting those trends. Officers observed that carjacked or stolen cars would often be used in other crimes over a short period.

“We’re able to use our helicopter and other technological means to try to identify where these vehicles are likely to be, track them and make sure that once individuals exit this vehicle, that we have officers at that location ready to make apprehensions,” Pulliam said.

The initiative is one of several that has been effective in disrupting crime by being proactive, Pulliam added. “We’re here to drive down violent crime in the city, and that’s what they’re doing.”

Get breaking news and daily headlines delivered to your email inbox by signing up here.

© 2024 WTOP. All Rights Reserved. This website is not intended for users located within the European Economic Area.

Scott Gelman

Scott Gelman is a digital editor and writer for WTOP. A South Florida native, Scott graduated from the University of Maryland in 2019. During his time in College Park, he worked for The Diamondback, the school’s student newspaper.

Federal News Network Logo
Log in to your WTOP account for notifications and alerts customized for you.

Sign up