A Safer Place for D.C. Kids to Play?

Drugs, guns target of massive Rec Center raid

By Jackie Bensen and Tonya LaFleur
|  Friday, Jul 16, 2010  |  Updated 7:35 AM EDT
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A Safer Place for D.C. Kids to Play?

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Police hope a major crime bust in a Northwest neighborhood will help make the area a safer place for kids to play.

On Thursday, Chief Cathy Lanier announced the result of an initiative to clean up the streets around the Kennedy Recreational Center at Seventh and O streets NW. Operation Sixth Sense also included Trinidad and Rosedale in Northeast.

“We are going to keep doing operations like this until criminals get the message: You’re not going to sell drugs, and wreak havoc on our communities,” said Lanier. “You’re also not going to shoot people and get away with it.”

DEA agents and D.C. police officers started serving arrest warrants early Thursday morning, arresting dozens on guns and drug charges. Among the items seized were drugs with a street value in excess of $200,000, including about a kilo of PCP; seven guns and more than $6,500 in cash.

Police were motivated after learning that families stopped using the Kennedy Rec Center out of fear. The good kids in the neighborhood didn’t want to walk past an open-air drug market to play with their friends.

“This was a concentrated effort that we put in during this summer initiative to specifically look for those folks who are firing guns (and selling drugs) out here on the street while the kids are trying to play and have a good time,” Lanier said.

Two young men were shot outside the Kennedy Rec Center on Tuesday, just two days before the big bust. The violence was just one in a series that had been holding the center hostage, according to D.C. police.

“So, the ones that want to come and stand and hang in front of the Rec Center and sell drugs or walk around with guns in their waistbands, those are the people we targeted,” said Lanier.

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