Police praise Chinatown patrols

WASHINGTON (AP) - The District of Columbia police department says its beefed-up presence in Chinatown has contributed to a drop in crime and forged better bonds with the community.

Police began focusing extra attention to the neighborhood in 2009 in response to complaints about nuisances and crime in the area. Now, there are 12 officers assigned to a special Chinatown patrol. Metro Transit police and part-time security officers also help out in the area.

Sgt. Peter Sheldon, who heads the Chinatown patrol, says a gang was broken up and that officers and residents now swap cell phone numbers with each other.

The police focus their attention on the heart of Chinatown, the intersection of 7th and H streets NW. Sheldon says police are trying to make the neighborhood a safe place to visit and live.