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D.C. Citizens Group Honors 7th District Police Officers

James Wright | 10/9/2013, 3 p.m.
District law enforcement officers who work in a police district located in Ward 8 received honors from members of a ...

District law enforcement officers who work in a police district located in Ward 8 received honors from members of a community organization recently for their outstanding efforts.

The Seventh District Citizens Advisory Council of the Washington, D.C. Metropolitan Police Department held its first banquet in six years at the Anacostia Navy Bolling Club on Friday, Oct. 4 to fete its police officers. Anthony Muhammad, the vice president of the council, expressed the sentiments of hundreds in the room regarding the police in the district. He did it simply and succinctly.

"We appreciate the [work] of the Seventh District police," said Muhammad, 54.

The council consists of residents of the police district who maintain close contact with the district commander on issues regarding law enforcement and crime prevention. The president of the council is Mary Cuthbert, a longtime community leader who lives in Ward 8.

The district is located primarily in the Southeast quadrant of the city, including the neighborhoods of Anacostia, Barry Farm, Naylor Gardens and Washington Highlands.

The police district's demographics are predominantly black and working class but with economic development taking place in Historic Anacostia and at St. Elizabeths, it’s expected that the police district will become far more racially and economically diverse in the coming years.

Washington, D.C. crime statistics for the police district show that from 2007 to 2011, homicide, forcible rape, aggravated assault, larceny/theft and stolen autos had dropped but burglary and stolen automobiles are on the rise. Seventh District Commander Robin Hoey credits his team for working to reduce crime.

"We are public servants and we are going to continue to do our job," said Hoey, 53. "I appreciate the work they do and the sacrifices they make. We are blessed to be able to do this job."

With the support of the council, Hoey handed out awards to the units of the police district. The units included vice, the warrant squad, auto theft, robbery/burglary, the crime suppression team, full stride, motor vehicle, crime scene, environmental crimes, community outreach and the truant patrol.

He also recognized individual officers in the eight police service areas.

While commending the work of all the units, he singled out the vice unit as being, in his opinion, the best in the city. Kiernan Speight, an officer assigned to the vice unit, expressed delight in the recognition of the work of his colleagues.

"It is very nice for the council to do this for us," said Speight, 35. "This is a nice event and I am enjoying socializing with my fellow officers."

Nancy Ware, the director of CSOSA (Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency of the District of Columbia) served as the keynote speaker for the event. Ware talked about the importance of incorporating returning citizens into the community and praised the members of the council for being active in the fight against crime.

The late James Bunn, a community and political activist in Ward 8 who died earlier this year and retired Sergeant Buddy Smallwood received honors for their work in the police district. James Bunn II accepted the award on behalf of his father while Smallwood appeared floored that he had been recognized.

"I did not expect this at all," said Smallwood, 74, who joined the D.C. police force in 1964. "This is wonderful and it is very nice to be honored this way."

D.C. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson (D) attended the banquet along with D.C. Council members Tommy Wells (D-Ward 6) and Anita Bonds (D-At Large). Mendelson said that the work of the police officers and the council members is important to the city.

"The events of the past few weeks show how fragile public safety is in our city," said Mendelson, 60, referring to the recent Navy Yard slayings and the police shooting death of a woman who led a high-speed chase through the downtown section of the city. "It is important that the Metropolitan Police Department build trust in the community."