When it comes to curbing the city’s auto-theft epidemic, the D.C. police have tried just about every maneuver in the department’s unofficial crime-fighting handbook—from urging the D.C. Council to pass tougher legislation on juvey joy riders to dishing out free knockoffs of the Club to District residents with registered cars. But last year, Officer Ivan Jordan, a six-year veteran, convinced his superiors that a more imaginative approach might reduce the number of disappearing autos in the 6th District, where almost 2,000 cars were snatched last year. So, working in a genre normally reserved for Winnie the Pooh and the Little Mermaid, Jordan developed a children’s coloring book about car thieves.
Jordan’s brief, tape-bound workbook tells the ill-fated story of Slip, a screwdriver-toting hoodlum with a lust for mischief and a taste for hot rims. After Slip spoils the unsuspecting Jones family’s day in the park, Officer H. Cuffs, a hardworking cop with a knack for forensics and a body shaped like a car, sets out to teach the offender the consequences of auto theft in the District. The story is appended by some fill-in-the-blanks (“If you are found in a stolen car you will go to ____”), some true-or-false questions (“All car thieves are old enough to drive”), and a handful of prevention tips (“Do not leave your car unlocked and unattended running anywhere”).
Jordan, who has a degree in graphic arts from the University of the District of Columbia (UDC), co-illustrated the book with Officer Mike Architzel, a D.C. beat cop who says he likes to doodle Japanese manga in his notebook during lulls on his shift. Jordan has been giving presentations at D.C. schools east of the Anacostia River and handing the workbook out to elementary- and middle-school students. Any older than that, says Jordan, and “they’re already dealing with” the courts. “Mine is based more on the preventive side.”
Encouraged by the youngsters’ rapt attention in the classroom, Jordan decided to expand his parables on joy riding to other art mediums. He’s developed a play about auto theft in conjunction with students from UDC, and in April he plans on shooting a short film based on the same script. “We’re gonna do the whole nine [yards], as if it was a real movie—we’re gonna have props and move scene to scene,” says Jordan, who received Officer of the Year honors in 2004 for his education efforts. He says the department will cover the costs of filming through its media branch, which typically shoots training videos as opposed to crime dramas. But the greatest form of support his department offers, according to Jordan, is its laissez-faire attitude toward his off-center brand of policing. “Basically, they leave me alone and let me do what I do,” he says. “And that’s right in line with what’s needed.” CP