Allen Talks Rats, Missing Teens, YRA Review with ANC 6B
Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 6B started its March 14 meeting with a series of updates from Ward 6 Councilmember Charles Allen. Here's a rundown of the key discussion points.
Council Committee on the Judiciary and Public Safety
In his role as Chair of the Council's Committee on the Judiciary and Public Safety, Allen stated that one of his top priorities is reforming the Youth Rehabilitation Act (YRA), long a subject of interest for ANC 6B and Commissioner Denise Krepp (6B10) in particular. Allen’s data indicates that youth who complete the YRA program plan are five times less likely to reoffend than those who do not. The Committee is conducting hearings and collecting further data in preparation for proposed legislative change.
Also, Allen reported that public hearings as part of the confirmation process for Acting Chief of Police Peter Newsham are ongoing. Constituents are encouraged to not only express support or concern for Newsham’s confirmation but also to present ideas regarding directions for policing in the community. A public hearing was held last week in Ward 8; there is another public hearing on March 20 at 7 p.m. at the Kipp DC Shaw campus (421 P St. NW) before a final hearing beginning at 9:30 a.m. on March 24 at the Wilson Building.
In the course of discussing the 2017-2018 budget, Allen indicated that he was working on inclusions for park renovations in 6B and protecting funding marked for the Southeast Library Renovation. Allen indicated that school budgets are a priority, and he intends to pressure DC Public Schools (DCPS) to move on the renovations to both Eliot-Hine Middle School and Jefferson Middle School Academy. The latter school was the subject of recent controversy following a visit from Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, and Allen said that he was heartened by how much the community rallied around the school, its teachers and families.
Residents used the Q&A period following Allen’s presentation to discuss the Ward’s problem with rat infestation. Attendees were asked to stand if they shared this concern. Approximately half of the attendees and two commissioners stood in response. Residents referred to a 2014 meeting held with Allen regarding legislation for the indoor storage of trash by restaurants. After residents called for a systemic approach to the problemamongst the various agencies, Allen vowed more research and work on the issue.
Commissioner Aimee Grace (6B07) asked Allen to comment on the perceived increase in missing teens in the District apparent to those following the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) on social media. Allen said he had reached out to MPD, who replied that there had been no change in the numbers of youth reported missing and that increased awareness was likely due to the fact that MPD had only recently begun making social media posts about these youth. While the Allen reinforced the legitimacy of the concerns about missing youth and issues of sex trafficking, he was confident that MPD is taking the problem seriously and pursuing every lead, often safely locating youth but not subsequently posting about these successful resolutions on social media.