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I have a mission for Jason Cherkis (“Beat Literature,” 2/14). First, the District is composed of roughly 400,000 citizens. Within that population are innumerable drug dealers, people high on something, people generally pissed off, and folks who are just plain nuts. They are well-armed with countless handguns, rifles, shotguns, knives, bats, pipes, and anything else you can imagine that could be used to maim or kill. Every day, they inflict trauma on the undeserving and commit countless crimes.
Your mission, as Officer Cherkis, is to go in and ferret out every murderer, drug dealer, armed nut, and miscreant; invade every home as warranted; pat down every bad guy; and stop every car you deem likely to conceal every ounce of crack, bag of weed, and deadly weapon out there. Arrest every criminal. To complicate matters, you will not be able to distinguish criminals by sight. You will have to check out everybody. And every approach will be fraught with danger; many of the bad guys are ready to hurt you before they let you get to them. Sometimes they will succeed in injuring you. They may even try to kill you. To make things even more difficult for you, most every bad guy will be related to someone, somehow, in that 400,000-strong community. And many in that community will support their loved ones, no matter how criminal. Often, the community you serve will resent every door you kick in, every car you stop, every frisk you conduct.
Now for the caveats: Do not leave anyone on a “hard-boiled note,” with a “bleak lament,” or alleging “police violence.” And whatever you do, do not poison your individual and group relationship with the community. Because we will take as true anything negative they have to say about you.