Dave Jamieson’s feature story “The Beat Goes On” (12/5) demonstrates that the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) needs a new band leader and whole new percussion section. Sure, Lt. Mike Smith is an overzealous mix of busybody and guard dog. Every police department in this country has police officers like Lt. Smith. But cops who wear their service weapon while mowing their lawn and chase bad guys in their dreams aren’t going away.
This doesn’t bother me or the law-abiding residents in Shaw. These guys usually don’t rise to the rank of lieutenantwhich is what makes Lt. Mike Smith’s story unique, especially since he’s chalked up so many reprimands. However, because Smith didn’t promote himself, we have to wonder what’s going on in the MPD’s management.
What was most amazing about Jamieson’s article is the sheer volume of open interdepartmental bitch-slapping. The lack of pride and professionalism in the MPD’s upper ranks was made evident in the article with such statements as: “[H]e’s an absolute nutjob,” “Some lieutenants haven’t made a lockup in 20 fucking years,” and “I’ve got other lieutenants watching TVwhy should I tend to his PSA?”
The story is supposed to be about Lt. Smith and his experiences as a cop who lives and works in Shaw. However, the article ends up a literal free-for-all of MPD captains, lieutenants, and sergeants hanging out their dirty laundry with no reservations. This has got to be unacceptable to those who are responsible for ensuring that the MPD’s executive management create an atmosphere of professionalism in its upper ranks. The article makes it clear that Chief Charles H. Ramsey has failed, after more than five years, to incorporate the community policing he promised. Worse then that, he has also failed to instill a measure of pride and professionalism in his department’s senior officers.
Having a lone zealot like Lt. Mike Smith who writes tickets for urinating in public when he’s off duty and supposed to be running family errands is not community policing, as suggested in Jamieson’s story. Community policing takes place when you have a city government that works together. When various organizations within city government work together, you will see transvestite drug users such as Andre get the kind of mental-health care needed after guys like Lt. Smith chase them down and arrest them. Until that happens, Lt. Smith will chase down Andre another five dozen times, and “Jurassic Park” will still have plenty of burly “women” for those who enjoy them as well as those who don’t.
I challenge the District’s elected leadership to read Jamieson’s article to each other at their next meeting. They can use it as a starting point to conduct an intelligent discussion with respect to the changes they need to make to the city government they are responsible for managing. Until they do, I’m staying in Arlington.