The May 13th IMPACT meeting shows signs of progress. Neighborhood action is leading to lights, cameras, and possibly a reimbursable detail on Brentwood Avenue. The IMPACT meeting resulted from the \”We want something done now!\” message at the April 20th special meeting set up by ANC 5B Commissioner Michael Morrison, in response to the open air drug market on Brentwood Road. The open air market was a hot topic at the March 23rd ANC 5B meeting where residents demanded action from the Ward 5B commissioners to clean up the drugs and violence at this Brentwood Road location.
Despite a couple of heated exchanges between residents and store owners, who feel their position in this debate is misrepresented, the overall feeling was of progress. Business owners claim to feel as victimized as the residents by violence and drug dealing. They witness firsthand the drug market shut down amidst police presence and spring back to life once that presence is gone. One owner admitted that he stopped taking a direct route home a couple of years ago after being followed from the store one night after closing.
The April 20th meeting that led to the IMPACT meetings was the result of a flurry of emails between residents, Commissioner Morrison, and Argatonia Weatherington, Office of the Attorney General for the District of Columbia. Ms. Weatherington joined the concerned citizens and Commissioner at 5D Police Station to hear the complaints first hand. She advised the approximately 30 concerned residents, who showed up at the end of a long workday, that their continued presence would be important if they planned to make a change.
Ms. Weatherington explained how a nuisance property suit would require affidavits from residents who had first-hand accounts of violence, drug dealing, and other violence. Without these affidavits, and a physical appearance at any court proceedings, she admitted the residents wouldn’t have much chance to win a nuisance suit.
Lieutenant Hazelton (PSA 504) reported on the efforts his squad is taking to curve the drug dealing, particularly in the morning, which seems to focus on heroin. He also spoke of his engagement with the property owner, Greg Fernebok of Harvey Property Management, earlier in the day. He offered Mr. Fernebok the opportunity to take advantage of the Metropolitan Police Department’s “reimbursable detail” program. This program allows business owners to hire police officers on an hourly basis to help protect private property. This program is commonly used by small businesses like retailers and nightclub owners.
The neighborhood action of the persistent 5B residents, Commissioner Morrison, and 5D PSA 504 have persuaded Mr. Fernebok to install lights and cameras at the Brentwood Road property. Whether Mr. Fernebok will avail himself of the reimbursable detail is still to be seen.
The next major milestone will take place Tuesday, June 14th at 6:30 when the lights and cameras should be live.