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The District Line story by Jake Tapper (“Street Hassle”) in your July 17th issue strongly demonstrates the need for new leadership in the 7th District.
I believe we can all agree about the sad fate of Andrew C. Davis Jr., operating his new motorcycle on Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue SE on a trip to the Naylor Road Safeway. Officer Gerald Anderson of the 7th District never even began one of those controversial “chases” that are the true grist of the “Real Stories of the ____” genre. Mr. Davis apparently made a maneuver judgment that proved fatal when he was thrown from the bike and struck a cement barrier and was “pronounced” at 2:09 a.m. on June 27.
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As far as I know, “drinking in public” ordinances are not suspended pursuant to loss, no matter how tragic. The mismanagement of the subsequent incident at 212 Newcomb St. SE by Cmdr. Robinson is particularly reprehensible, since even if one were to permit a certain laxity of statutory enforcement, those officers responding to Newcomb Street would have had to be clairvoyant to associate the auto death with what they subsequently observed. The officers did not begin a wholesale arrest of people possessing open alcoholic beverage containers; they merely asked them to take them inside. This is a fairly straightforward, reasonable, and benign request. And if I had been the supervisor on the scene, that’s exactly what I would have instructed the officers to do. Instead, a mini-riot ensued. Andrew Davis Sr. concluded that the fact that his son did not have a license, was speeding, and died in the “vicinity” of a police car was sufficient to indict the Metropolitan Police Department for his son’s death.
Cmdr. Robinson then began to show his incomprehensible contempt for his subordinates by beginning a metaphorical “shredding” operation, “Winston in Wonderland.” If the police manager who told the officers that they should be susceptible to being shoved can be identified, he or she needs to be disciplined rapidly and effectively. To send the men and woman of the 7th District to an ill-conceived, politically motivated sensitivity session at the University of the District of Columbia because they were assaulted by a disorderly crowd cries out for a thorough examination of the competence and motives of Cmdr. Robinson.
What exactly did Robinson mean when he stated, “If you get a lot of negative all the time, then you get negative yourself.” If this is the trite, banal, supercilious minimalism that he bases his command philosophy on, someone is going to get hurt, or worse. Statistically, Cmdr. Robinson is in a pretty safe environment; the highest-ranking member of the MPD killed in the line of duty was a captain, and that was almost 60 years ago. The subordinate members of his command are in much more potential danger. To leave a district commander with a nonsensical “no-fly” zone in place is inconsistent with the goals and objectives of a safe and crime-free community.
(The writer is a retired sergeant with the Metropolitan Police Department.)
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