In Washington, D.C., if you want to enter one residential neighborhood in the Northeast part of the city, you'd better be prepared to show some identification.
That's because seven people were gunned down in D.C. during a nine-hour period two weekends ago — including three in the Trinidad neighborhood.
Although the overall murder rate in Washington has dropped since last year in most areas, the number of homicides in Trinidad has skyrocketed. In response to the murders, the city's police department has set up a "Neighborhood Safety Zone" in Trinidad to scan visitors' IDs and ensure they have a "legitimate" reason to be there, such as a community event or picking up a child from day care.
The checkpoint, set up June 7, is needed because a large number of the killings in Trinidad are the result of drive-by shootings by "rival crews" from outside the area, District of Columbia Police Chief Cathy Lanier tells Michele Norris.
"Folks from other neighborhoods are coming in cars, typically stolen cars, and then driving through the neighborhood and shooting, and then driving out," Lanier says, citing an eight-week period during which 14 shootings in Trinidad involved cars, including gun battles between people in cars. "We want to try to take that tool away from the criminal."
The American Civil Liberties Union has publicly protested the tactic, but Lanier says the police deterrent is working.
Lanier says she has gotten e-mail after e-mail from residents who welcome the police presence. She is also hearing from people she passes on the street.
On Tuesday, Lanier says she saw an elderly man sitting on his porch eating dinner.
"When I spoke with him, he said, 'You know, I don't have air conditioning, so it's so much easier for me to sit outside ... and have my dinner, but I wouldn't be sitting here if your folks weren't here,' " Lanier says.