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Restoring Order: A Cooperative Effort by the Police and a Housing Inspector

NCJ Number
Police Chief Volume: 64 Issue: 8 Dated: August 1997 Pages: 72-77
R E Swope
Date Published
6 pages
This paper describes a team effort that involves police and a housing inspector in the Fifth Police District of the District of Columbia in an effort to address problems associated with crime and disorder in that district.
Prior to the team effort, many abandoned buildings were used 24 hours a day as "shooting galleries" and "crack houses." Some alleys were blocked by trash, and private lots were piled high with litter and junk. Due to the absence of a coordinated approach, the police were unable to achieve lasting change in these conditions. The evolution of a new approach began when Fifth District officers encountered an extremely cooperative regulatory enforcement officer during an attempt to abate a nuisance property. In the resolution of the particular complaint, the inspector and a police officer went to the problem property together to conduct the inspection; action was swift and effective. As additional complaints were received, this inspector was called upon again and again to work with the officers. Eventually, the inspector was detailed to the Fifth District to work full-time with the police. The team's success has been overwhelming, not only with abandoned properties, but with other issues as well. The inspector's contacts, experience, and knowledge have been invaluable in solving other physical disorder issues in the community.