Okay, let me type this quickly. When I last checked 15 people had been murdered in the streets of DC and I want to be able to submit this before someone else is killed, thus making me a statistical liar. Oh - but wait, Mayor Anthony Williams and Police Chief Charles Ramsey have declared a state of CRIME EMERGENCY, so everything will be fine now. Whew.
I don't really know what bothers me more about this state of declared emergency; the fact that it didn't happen until a British citizen was murdered in the streets of Georgetown, or the fact that the DC political hierarchy have brought so much media fanfare to a plan that should be the standard operating procedure for the police department.
Mayor Williams has said, in some many words, that the police department will now be working six day weeks and they'll be shutting down crack houses and locking up repeat offenders in the juvenile justice system. These are fine ideas, although the six day work weeks will be physically and emotionally draining to most cops, but I like the aggressive pursuit of the criminal element.
I know people are complaining that there is not a cop on every corner of the city. Let's be real, that is impossible unless every DC resident is willing to pay 59% taxes. But instead of making this grand declaration of a state of emergency, they should make a declaration of ZERO TOLERANCE. The city politicians and leaders shouldn't wait until the camera lights come on to give the police all of the support and resources they need to keep our streets safe. This state of emergency shouldn't be a decision on how to react, it should be how the police act at all times. The crackhouses should see more cops coming through their doors than crackheads, the young people that use the juvie system as a merry-go-round, should actually be made to pay for their crimes and do some time and do some rehabilitation instead of sitting at home playing their X-Boxes until their mom falls asleep and they hit the streets. The drug dealers on the corners should be pressed and squeezed and locked away behind bars. The thugs that are sticking guns in people's faces should be chased hard by police and put away.
To me, police departments in high crime areas should always be operating a "STATE OF EMERGENCY" level. There should be no waiting until 'the right person' is slaughtered in the streets for police departments to be instructed by city leaders to aggressively pursue, capture and incarcerate criminals. There should be no wait for a big press conference before police are sent out to kick in the doors of known drug houses. There should be not wait for CNN to cover a district murder before police are sent out to lock up parole violators, There should be no wait for anything before police are sent out to take down everybody on drug corners and sent out to come down hard on criminals everywhere!
And I say all this with an eye towards not just the police and the politicians, but we - the law abiding members of our communities, we have to help the police do their jobs. We have to be witnesses and we have to stop turning a blind eye to the folks we know are doing dirt. I know being a witness in a criminal case can sometimes have dangerous repercussions - but when that happen's it's okay to send an anonymous note to a detective giving him or her a helping hand. Whatever we can do to fight crime as a whole, as a community - it will only make our streets safer, we to have to be aggressive with our own state of emergency, the cops and politicians can't and won't succeed by doing it alone.
(I really didn't want to post this entry because earlier today I wrote my thoughts on this and I really loved the way I typed it out, but when I hit "Publish" the whole thing disappeared and I lost all of my text. This entry is far from the organized first effort that is now floating in cyberspace. I hope my thoughts still make it through.)