Public Safety: Mayor Names MPD Interim Police Chief; Local Crime Reports
By May 22, 2023 0 344•
Mayor Appoints Interim MPD Chief
Outside Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) headquarters on Friday evening May 19, a WUSA 9 reporter relayed a dramatic announcement from D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser’s office to a “city grappling” with issues of “public safety.”
Effective June 3, upon current-MPD Chief Robert Contee’s retirement to join the FBI, the department’s second-in-command, current Executive Assistant Chief Ashan Benedict – who was appointed in April 2021 to the job by Chief Contee – will assume the role of MPD interim chief, pending completion of an expedited nationwide search process for a permanent chief of police for the nation’s capital.
As MPD’s executive officer, Benedict has been responsible for managing day-to-day operations, under Chief Contee, for the District’s police force of approximately 3,700 sworn members and over 600 civilian employees.
Benedict served for more than 25 years at the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) where he specialized in investigating gun violence, drug trafficking and violent crime. As ATF Special Agent in Charge of the DC Field Division, he served as the on-scene Incident Commander for ATF’s deployment at the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021. In his ATF career, he was also involved in responses to many major crises, including the 9/11 attack on the Pentagon, the Beltway Sniper investigation, the Navy Yard active-shooter investigation and the response to Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans in 2005.
“Four hours ago,” the reporter said, “outgoing police chief Robert Contee said that Benedict was the right man for the job,” and “…they made the right decision,” adding that the transition would be “seamless.”
At a May 19 press conference, Benedict reinforced the sensibleness of his appointment as interim MPD chief. “I work with Chief Contee. I’m with him every single day. I oversee our patrol operations, our investigations, [and] our Homeland Security Bureau,” Benedict said.
Chief Contee concurred with Benedict. “He’s been in the same space with me, with the mayor, he’s been in the community, and acts for me now when I’m out of the area on business travel, or away with the family or something like that,” Chief Contee said of Benedict. “And he has an even temperament. And in this job, it is certainly [one] where you have to have a temperament where [the] community will certainly support you and where they feel confident in your abilities to be able to address the issues of concern to them.”
Contee emphasized that Benedict will continue to implement MPD’s community policing and gun violence prevention strategies. Benedict, “comes from a background of focusing on guns — from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms and if you look at over 80 percent of the homicides in the District of Columbia are gun related, illegal firearm related,” Contee said. MPD has reported violent crime rates for the District have risen 14 percent and property crimes have increased 30 percent compared to this time last year.
Benedict’s biography seems tailor-made to address Washington’s unique challenges as a national capital city where global issues can intersect with local security concerns. A resident of Washington, D.C., with three children, Benedict holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Fordham University and an executive Master’s degree in international relations from Syracuse University’s Maxwell School in Washington, D.C. “We’re unique here in the nation’s capital, with the Supreme Court, White House and U.S. Capitol,” Benedict told a Syracuse University reporter about his experience juggling classes and serving as MPD’s second-in-command. “Every government’s embassy is here, and we have visitors from across the world. People come to exercise their First Amendment protected rights, and we help them do so safely. It’s best to know what the issues are related to Russia, China, Iran, Ukraine… All of that comes into play.” Such international dynamics helped inspire Benedict to enroll in the master’s program offered in Washington in partnership with the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS).
Benedict announced he’s not interested in permanently leaving his role as executive assistant chief, however. “I’m not under consideration,” he said. “I’m not putting in for the job. And that’s a personal decision I’m making,” he said.
While Mayor Bowser gave no specifics about timeframes or number of candidates under consideration in the search process, she declared that she’s looking for a “leader and a crimefighter” for the city.
Local Crime Reports
On May 19, detectives from MPD’s Second District announced an arrest in reference to an “Assault with a Dangerous Weapon (Gun) Offense” that occurred on the same day in the 3000 block of Veazey Terrace, NW. “At approximately 1:01 pm, the suspect and the victim were involved in a verbal altercation …. During the altercation, the suspect brandished a handgun and threatened the victim then fled the scene. The suspect was apprehended and a handgun was recovered by responding officers,” MPD reported. Rakeem Jones, 31, of Northwest D.C. was arrested and charged additionally with “Carrying a Pistol without a License,” felony gun possession, as well as unregistered firearm and munitions.
On May 19, detectives from MPD’s Third District announced an arrest the previous day in reference to an “Armed Robbery (Gun) offense on May 16 in the 1600 block of Argonne Place NW. “At approximately 4:30 p.m., the suspects approached the victim… One of the suspects brandished a handgun and demanded the victim’s property. The victim complied then the suspects fled the scene,” the report said. Jaquan Wilson, 20, southeast D.C., was arrested and charged with Armed Robbery (Gun).
On May 19, detectives from MPD’s Homicide Branch announced an investigation of suspected homicide that occurred on May 17 in the 4300 block of 13th St. NW. “At approximately 2:24 pm, Fourth District officers responded to [a] report of a shooting. Upon arrival, officers located a juvenile male shooting victim, unconscious and unresponsive. DC Fire and Emergency Medical Services responded to the scene and transported the victim to an area hospital. After all life-saving efforts failed, the victim was pronounced dead,” the report said. Jefferson Luna-Perez, 17, of Northwest D.C. was listed as the deceased.
On May 18, detectives from MPD’s Major Crash Unit announced an investigation of a traffic fatality on May 18 in the intersection of 5th and H Streets NW. “The preliminary investigation revealed that at approximately 7:23 a.m., a 2022 Mack truck was traveling northbound in the 700 block of 5th Street, Northwest and making a right turn on to H Street, NW to travel eastbound,” the report said. “At the same time, an adult male pedestrian was walking north on 5th Street and crossing over H Street using the crosswalk. While making the right turn, the Mack truck struck the pedestrian. DC Fire and Emergency Medical Services responded to the scene and transported the victim to a local hospital. After all life-saving efforts failed, the victim was pronounced dead. The striking vehicle remained on the scene.” Chad Nieboer, 49, of Northwest D.C. was identified as the deceased.
On May 17, detectives from MPD’s Third District requested public assistance in locating a suspect in reference to an “Armed Robbery (Gun) Offense” that occurred on May 16 in the 1600 block of Argonne Place NW. “At approximately 3:03 p.m., the suspect approached the victim at the listed location” and “brandished a handgun [to] demand the victim’s property. The victim complied and the suspect fled the scene,” the report said. The suspect was captured by a surveillance camera and can be seen in the photo below:
On May 18, MPD’s Carjacking Task Force announced an arrest of a 17-year-old juvenile male from Northwest D.C. in reference to “Armed Carjacking (Gun) Offenses” in the District. At the 800 block of K Street NW, the suspect was suspected of brandishing a handgun and demanding “victim exit the vehicle.” And, on May 16, at approximately 11:30 a.m., the same suspect is believed to have approached a victim “seated in a vehicle, in the 600 block of Butternut Street NW engaging in a similar carjacking with other suspects before fleeing the scene in the stolen vehicle. At the time of the 17-year-old’s arrest, the report said, “three handguns were recovered,” as well as a “large capacity ammunition feeding device,” and several additional firearms charges were filed.
On May 17, detective’s from MPD’s Third District announced an arrest in a “Burglary One Offense” that occurred on the 1700 block of Lanier Place, NW. “At approximately 2:39 a.m., the suspect entered an occupied residence at the listed location. Once inside, the suspect took the victim’s property. The suspect was apprehended by responding officers,” the report said. Samuel Garcia-Amaya, 25, of Oxon Hill, Maryland was arrested and charged with Burglary One.
Stolen Vehicle Arrests
On May 19, MPD announced the following recent arrests for “Unauthorized Use of a Vehicle and Theft One (Stolen Auto) offenses in the northwest D.C.
Friday, May 12, 2023
- 29-year-old Xavier Valentine, of Northwest, DC, was arrested for an Unauthorized Use of a Vehicle offense that occurred in the 300 block of M Street, Northwest.
Wednesday, May 17, 2023
- A 14-year-old juvenile male, of Southeast, D.C., was arrested for an Unauthorized Use of a Vehicle offense that occurred in the 700 block of M Street NW.
- 33-year-old Dayvon Baker, of no fixed address, was arrested for an Unauthorized Use of a Vehicle offense that occurred in the 1800 block of Wiltberger Street, Northwest.
Weekly Firearms Recoveries
For the week of May 8-15, MPD announced 52 firearms recovered by MPD detectives and officers in the District. An analysis of the ages of the report’s 27 listed arrestees included 11 persons under 21-years of age, five 18-year-olds, and two 19-year-olds.
This excerpt from the report covering May 12, suggests how serious gun charges can be among juvenile offenders lately in the District: “a Glock 43 9mm caliber handgun and a .45 caliber “Ghost Gun” handgun were recovered in the 3300 block of Idaho Road, Northwest. The following people were arrested… and 15-year-old male juvenile, of Fort Washington, Maryland, for Carrying a Pistol without a License, Possession of Unregistered Ammunition, Possession of an Unregistered Firearm, Curfew Violation, Unlawful Possession of Contraband, and Possession of a Large Capacity Ammunition Feeding Device…”
The public is invited to notify MPD with tips or information at (202) 727-9099, or on the department’s TEXT TIP LINE by text messaging 50411. In some cases, money rewards are offered for information leading to arrest and conviction.
Editor’s disclaimer: This crime article is based on MPD reports. Suspect information presented has not necessarily been adjudicated in a court of law. A presumption of innocence applies in all cases pending a legal determination.