On June 20th, the Dupont Circle ANC and their Public Safety Liaisons, Noah Smith and Kishan Putta, hosted a listening session on public safety hosted by the Jewish Community Center. The meeting was a forum for community members to communicate concerns about neighborhood safety issues and to influence the public safety agenda of the ANC moving forward.
Over 45 residents, business owners and government officials attended to hear those concerns and form relationships to address them in the future. The ANC was very pleased to have Ward 2 Council Member Jack Evans speak at the opening of the meeting, and also to have many representatives from the Meteropolitan Police Department — including Commander Reese (2nd District), Commander Kishter (3rd District), Lt. McDonald (PSA 208), Lt. Lindsay (PSA 301), and others. Representatives from the District Department of Transportation also attended.
A majority of the discussion was focused on either traffic safety concerns or crime in the area. Here is a roundup on the topics that were voiced:
Bicyclist and Pedestrian Safety
- Bicyclist and pedestrian safety were of chief concern to many neighbors. Cycling is growing quickly throughout the city and safely sharing the road and sidewalk is a top priority.
- Concerns were raised about the 15th St cycle track and how it can sometimes be dangerous when cars cross the bike lanes in the middle of a block and when driver park their cars and need to get to the sidewalk. There was a great suggestion to increase signage on the cycle track to better warn cars and bikers about other road users.
- The rules for how and where it is legal to bike on the sidewalk were discussed and it was agreed that more biking infrastructure and education.
- Construction projects on major roadways, such as 14th St, often use sidewalk space, forcing pedestrians to either cross the street or walk in a traffic lane. This can last for a year or more depending on the construction project. Options for how to address this issue should be explored with city agencies.
Vehicular Traffic Concerns
- Several people voiced concerns about how dangerous it is to walk and bike in and around the Dupont traffic circle’s lanes:
- The timing of lights and pedestrian signage is off, often forcing pedestrians to stand on small medians in the middle of traffic.
- Drivers may be confused about which lanes will take them to which streets and they often illegally turn, putting pedestrians at risk.
- One suggestion was to add more helpful signage in the circle. Another suggestion was to add traffic cameras to the circle and in the neighborhood
Crime and Law Enforcement
- There was initial discussion about the timing of Police Service Area (PSA) meetings. There are two PSAs in two separate police districts that service the Dupont Circle neighborhood (208 and 301 in the 2nd and 3rd districts respectively) and leadership from those areas meet on a regular basis with neighbors. The timing of those meetings was of concern to some neighbors, especially those concerned about crimes that cross the PSA/district borders. The police Lieutenants in charge of those PSAs understood the concerns and are discussing the best ways to address the issue – they stressed that they are always available by email or phone.
- Residents asked about how best to report suspicious activity or crimes in progress. MPD provided some fantastic information to help:
- Reporting Suspicious Activity
- Text to 50411
- Call 202-727-9099
- Citizen Reporting Tools on MPD Website for Specific Property Crimes
- If there is ever a question about who to call – Call 9-1-1
- Reporting Suspicious Activity
- There was interest in Community Impact Statements to influence the sentencing of people found guilty of crimes in the neighborhood. A Community Impact Statement is a description of how a crime or series of crimes have affected our community.
- The neighborhood was encouraged to submit one community impact statement on behalf of the entire community, which could be coordinated through the ANC.