Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Crime Emergency--Notice Any Difference?

It has been nearly two months now since the big town meeting held by Jack Evans and the declaration of a ‘crime emergency’ by Chief Ramsey. I gotta say, I can’t see much visible difference in the police coverage around our place.

For a while, starting the day of the town meeting, there was a cluster of police at a roadblock set up at 5th and O, checking drivers licenses, registration, and insurance cards. (And, according to one neighbor, getting the phone numbers of attractive females—wouldn’t know about that.) That stopped at least a month ago.

Once or twice, I have seen a mounted police officer, but that’s been a while too. I can’t say I’ve seen much, if any, increase in patrol cars on the street either. At the town meeting and civic association meetings, residents keep asking for foot or bike patrols, but that doesn’t seem to be happening.

I know the police have a tough job, and I don’t really know enough to try to second-guess their decisions. They say they have increased the numbers of patrol officers, and I have no reason to doubt that. They say they’re closing the parks at dark and chasing the vagrants out of the one at O and New Jersey Avenue, which is probably true.

They’re also working 6-day weeks, and I have to wonder how much additional quality police work you get from that. After all, you can go on daylight saving time, but you still don’t get any more daylight.

What I don’t discern is the strategy. The residents keep saying they want community policing, where they can actually interact with the cops instead of just seeing them glide by in their cars. I wouldn’t recognize any individual District 3 police officer in a lineup if I had to (except for the ones who come to the meetings). This kind of community policing seems to have worked well elsewhere, so why can’t we give it a try here? Maybe there aren’t enough police to do it, but in DC we have the highest number of police per capita in the country and are planning to hire more. So if not here, where?


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