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The pop and crackle and confusion of D.C. police radio chatter this weekend made it apparent that local badges, like most other law enforcement, were doggedly chasing the terrible specter of terrorism because of the tenth anniversary of 9/11. In the wake of a “credible but unconfirmed” warning about al Qaeda detonating car bombs in D.C. and New York, patrols careened toward suspicious vans, loomed at bridges, and stalked two U-Haul trucks reported stolen from a lot in Prince George’s County. All weekend, cops toiled in grueling twelve-hour “crime emergency” shifts—-perhaps sensibly opposed by the Fraternal Order of Police because of the long hours and lack of overtime pay.
According to a tally of police arrest records, as a result of the stepped up enforcement, the authorities carted away 522 people. Those weren’t 522 terrorists, however. Court records show there were crimes of poverty (a man allegedly shoplifted lotion, body wash, skin cleanser, razors, deodorant and bread from the Safeway on Piney Branch Road NW) and perversion (another man allegedly put his hand up the skirt of a woman on U Street). But though there was one man with the cagey last name of “Jihad” arrested for failing to appear at a court hearing, Metropolitan Police Department spokesperson Officer Araz Ali says MPD knew of no terror-related arrests made by District cops during the tense weekend.
That probably doesn’t matter. In a statement, Police Chief Cathy Lanier suggests the crime emergency is really a Ray Kelly-style bid to intimidate terrorists rather than catch up with them: “Rest assured that we are paying very close attention to this threat and that we are doing everything in our power to ensure that Washington is not an attractive target to someone trying to do harm to our residents and visitors,” she says. Lanier plans on continuing the emergency measures until “I am comfortable that the threat has decreased,” so shoplifters and creeps—beware.
Photo by Darrow Montgomery