After Violence, Sealing Off a D.C. Neighborhood Washington, D.C., will set up a police checkpoint Saturday in a part of the city still reeling from nine shootings in nine hours. The mayor and police chief say "sealing off" the Trinidad neighborhood will keep the peace, but residents liken the situation to a police state.
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After Violence, Sealing Off a D.C. Neighborhood

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After Violence, Sealing Off a D.C. Neighborhood

After Violence, Sealing Off a D.C. Neighborhood

After Violence, Sealing Off a D.C. Neighborhood

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  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/91233127/91232152" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

Trinidad, in northeast Washington, D.C. hide caption

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This Saturday in Washington, D.C., police will install a checkpoint in an area of the city still reeling from a violent weekend that left seven people dead and eight wounded. Mayor Adrian Fenty and Police Chief Cathy Lanier say "sealing off" the Trinidad neighborhood — which recently witnessed three homicides — will keep the peace, but Golloher says some residents liken the situation to a police state.

The plan, Golloher says, is that officers will be stationed along a one-way, three-block stretch of Trindidad's Monticello Avenue. Anyone attempting to enter the so-called Neighborhood Safety Zone will be asked for identification.

"A lot of the crime is due to drive-by shootings," Golloher says, explaining that the police believe that if outsiders are aware they are being surveilled, crime will be reduced. "You make sure they actually have a reason to be there."

Is Trinidad really that bad? Not really, Golloher says, calling the neighborhood a mixed one where 60 percent of the population is black and 30 percent is Hispanic. The intense focus on this one street in one neighborhood, Golloher says, is part of the department's oft-criticized habit of shifting course to attack spasms of violence as they occur.

"[The chief] seems to be changing her initiatives as crime increases," Golloher says. "She says it's an always-evolving process."

Life Behind Checkpoint Trinidad

Residents of Trinidad tell Golloher the identification-checking plan won't really address the problem. After all, the police will stop only cars, not pedestrians, and the sentries are to monitor traffic on just one street.

Golloher says the most vehement critic she met is a 61-year-old resident. "This is not right, this is lazy police work," he says. "You can't just stop people ad hoc."

Worse, Golloher says, is the perception among residents and officials alike that police efforts continue to ignore the fundamental problem: Kids have nothing to do. "They need activities, they need jobs," Golloher says. "You can only do so much as a police force." What will happen after you leave and someone else is shot? That was the question on one female resident's lips, Golloher says. "They want a systematic answer."

Golloher says the police checkpoint in Trinidad is scheduled for a minimum of five days and can be extended up to 30 days.