When D.C. Police got tired of arresting the same teenage robbery suspect again and again only to have him back on the streets soon after committing more crimes, they turned to the District's online community for help.
Police used local listservs to post a message asking Columbia Heights residents to lobby judges and city officials to find a long-term solution -- either jail or help.
Police said they have arrested the same suspect three times in a string of more than 20 robberies in the Columbia Heights area.
Did the online posting work? Perhaps. District Attorney General Peter Nickelstold the Washington Post he received an influx of mail in his inbox. He also wasn't too keen on the police department's idea to drum up support.
"I don't mind getting 20 e-mails about a particular problem that reflects the unique perspective of people in the community, but I don't approve of an organized campaign to send me 50 e-mails," he told the paper.
"I haven't touched them," he said. "I told my secretary to put them in a pile."
Below is the department's message that was posted online (thanks to PoP):
Good Morning Neighbors I write this email to inform you that the Third District made yet another arrest for robbery, however the circumstances surrounding this latest robbery you will find upsetting. The facts are reported as reported below:In the earlier this year the Columbia Heights neighborhood experienced a rash of violent robberies. This particular suspect approaches people from behind and hits his victims. Once the victim is down, stolen are cell phones, money and IPODS. The suspect was also identified as committing six (6) robberies within the METRO Rail System. Once this suspect was developed as a viable suspect in the METRO robberies, DC Police began to look at the suspect on several robberies as well.. The suspect was was subsequently identified in thirteen (13) robberies in Columbia Heights. The suspect, who was a juvenile, was released from jail because he was found to be incompetent to stand trial.
The suspect was released back into the Columbia Heights Community where he committed another 6 robberies. The total number of robberies at that time stood at nine teen (19) robberies. Well the suspect was released back into the community and was placed in a halfway house where he absconded and came back to the Columbia Heights neighborhood. Well, I was never notified that he was released or even absconded from the group home. Recently, he committed yet another robbery, this time within the grounds of Cardozo High School. This is a total of twenty (20) robberies that this suspect has committed and I am concerned that if this person released again he may commit more robberies or worse harm one of you. I find this lack of accountability by the juvenile justice system to be a travesty and a disservice to the community.
Please view the enclosed OAG Organizational Chart (click here OAG Chart) and I ask that each of you write an email or letter to the Attorney General Peter Nickels and every supervisor, manager, and attorney under the “PUBLIC SAFETY CLUSTER”
Please remember that the email address is the First Name then a dot then the last name @ DC. Gov (Ex. Edward.Delgado@ dc.gov)
I expect each of you to flood the email system today because time is critical in this matter. Let them not release this criminal yet again into the community. You can refer to this juvenile as M.A.R., they will know whom you are talking about. I also ask you to forward this email to which ever person you think will assist in this matter. Remember flood the system….
Office of the Attorney General
Government of the District of Columbia
One Judiciary Square
441 4th Street NW
Washington, DC 20001
Phone: (202) 727-3400
Third District Sub Station
750 Park Road, N.W