Thursday, August 9, 2007

All Right.... Crime Spree!

You really have to wonder what's going through her head. DC Police Chief Cathy Lanier, in response to the typical summertime surge in crime and the typical gentrifier's outcry upon realizing that the ghetto where they bought their $670,000 house last month has crime, enacted the All hands On Deck initiative for the third time this summer.

According to Lanier, this miraculous program, which costs nothing, "is good for public relations, which to her, plays a part in successful policing." At least she's being honest: it's all about PR. I'm so pleased that our police department puts it's public image at the top of it's "to do" list, rather than, say, actually fighting crime in any kind of effective way.

So, what exactly is the result of these brilliant "All Hands" initiatives? Well, they sure arrest a lot of people - more than 1,000 in a single weekend, to be exact. Unfortunately, arresting drunks, hookers, and pot dealers -- the vast majority of whom will be back on the street the next day -- doesn't really do much to keep people safe from street crime. Frankly, your average small time drug dealer probably improves public safety - he's there all the time and knows everyone who comes and goes. Thugs don't mess around on blocks where everyone knows everyone. But the proof is in the pudding - and these initiatives so far seem to have had little effect.

OK, well, if it doesn't cost anything, what's the big deal? Unfortunately, this is, quite simply, a lie. Nothing is free. You cannot wave a magic wand and create police officers who are willing to work overtime, for free.

The cost is coming now. As the Examiner reports, all these cops who worked overtime for the latest All Hands fiasco last weekend, have been taking some time off later in the week. From the aforementioned Examiner article: "In the 1st District station on Wednesday afternoon, 14 officers were on patrol for an area where the department requires at least 30."

So, Ms. Lanier, perhaps you can explain why double-loading the police force for two days, and then being half-staffed for two more, helps us in any way. If more police is better, than why isn't fewer police worse? To the extent that you think a greater police presence will hinder crime, don't you think a dramatically reduced police presence will be a free pass for the same criminals?

So, kids, grab your pipes and chains... the cat's away. This weekend, it's gonna be a crime spree!

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