Mayor Adrian Fenty and Police Chief Cathy Lanier have been busy this week defending a new initiative aimed at the recent spike in crime. Perhaps that’s because the crime wave and the plan to fight it are neither real nor new.
With 50 homicides as of April 28, this year has been no more deadly than 2007—even after the four homicides last weekend. And Lanier has been combating crime with mass deployments—like this week’s doubling of patrols—since she came into office last year.
Where does the money for increased patrols come from? “That’s one of the big questions,” says D.C. police union president Kristopher Baumann. Most likely, he says, from overtime pots usually spent at the discretion of individual district commanders, money that’s supposed to be set aside to crack down on specific problems like prostitution or auto theft.
And why the big push when past chiefs have been criticized for relying solely on beefed-up patrols? Baumann thinks the chief is just too lazy to come up with a better solution. “It’s like Groundhog Day,” he says. Baumann’s just waiting for someone to utter the magic words: “Wait a second, this is the exact same thing we’ve done every year for 10 years, and it’s never done anything.”
Police spokeswoman Traci Hughes defended the program, saying violent crime has dropped by 3 percent and MPD has had “non-quantitative success” like “feedback from residents.” She did not respond to questions about resources for the extra deployments.
(photo by dbking)