An MPD Officer’s response to, “What Questions Should Be Asked of MPD Chief Cathy Lanier and Others”

Photo by PoPville flickr user AWard Tour

A couple of weeks ago we discussed what questions should be asked of Chief Lanier and other MPD leaders at a crime meeting. Ed. Note: Many police officers and firefighters read PoP and from time to time contact me directly. This one was kind enough to give his/her opinion from the ground level. The following is her/his opinion alone and does not represent an official response from MPD.

It is a bit lengthy but I think well worth the read:

“How come in my over 13 years in DC I’ve only seen cops on foot a handful of times? Simply, why don’t we see regular patrols on foot?

* It depends on the district and the PSA Lieuntenant. Some districts or PSAs aren’t conducive to having a footbeat officer. Foot or bike beats are more logical for business areas than residential ones, which is why you don’t see them in heavy residential neighborhoods.

* The advent of statistics-driven policing has put a lot of pressure on supervisors. One of the metrics that officials look at come from the Office of Unified Communications (OUC). They look at things like the number of calls for service, response time, etc. A lot more calls get answered in a shorter amount of time when Officers are in vehicles. When you take a fixed pool of manpower and reassign some to fixed, limited-geography beats, the response time for everything is going to drop into the toilet unless you augment the foot officers with additional officers in vehicles.

* Given a choice between walking and pushing a scout car, most officers won’t willingly volunteer for a foot or mountain bike beat. Assigned foot beats are usually pretty small and get repetitive fast. Walking or biking eight and half hours a day can take a toll on your body.

Continues after the jump.

A quick aside, when I was walking home Thurs. afternoon I saw fresh gang graffiti on a pole near a recent shooting. I saw an MPD patrol car drive by and I stopped it. While the officer was extremely kind and attentive, I asked if they realized that there was gang graffiti here? They did not. Like I said, they were very attentive in writing down the info but my point is, if you are only riding around in a patrol car you are going to miss a lot of details.

o When you’re driving around, gang graffitti rapidly becomes like static because we’re looking for people, not tags. Graffitti can be telling sometimes in figuring out if there are new groups coming up, but D.C. crews are, from my experience, small and localized with the same idiots doing the same crime all the time.

o Officers get a lot more actionable ‘intel’ by pressing people out, IDing them, photographing them, etc. than looking at paint on the walls.

I would also be curious if bluntly asked – does she see the problem of youth gangs/crews getting better, staying the same or getting worse

o In my opinion, crime is getting better but youth crime is getting worse.

o Juveniles in D.C. just don’t give a shit about the police, jail, or anything else because if they’ve been locked up once, they know that the juvenile justice system is a joke and that nothing is going to happen to them. I’ve talked to them, and most of know that they’ll get a slap on the wrist even if a case proceeds against them.

If not getting better – what can MPD do in the long term that is a preventative measure rather than simply reactive measures?

o As for what the police can do, the best we can do is try to build some bridges to the good youth who aren’t automatically acculturated to hate the police.

o The bulk of preventative measures need to be concentrated on fixing the family structure of a large minority of D.C. residents. Like it or not, the more intact your family is (i.e. having a mother and father that are still together and involved with their kids), the less likely that a juvenile is to get into trouble. The biggest shitbags that we have to deal with are usually the products of teenage mothers who are single and head up the household. Engage the extended families of juveniles if their primary family unit is not intact. It’s telling that a lot of juveniles that I’ve either dealt with or arrested want to call their Aunt or their Grandmother.

caballero: Should we be in regular contact with local patrols?

o Yes you should always feel free to stop and talk to us if you think something is going on. We’re in your neighborhoods 40 hours a week or more, but we’re not everywhere every time. Also, good officers like good intelligence from community members, especially those people who are established in the community and have previously given reliable information or are plugged into a community that we can’t be.

What kind of information are they interested in receiving from us? If we don’t see crimes being committed, but we see suspicious activity or individuals, should we pass that info along?

o I’m glad someone asked this because I’ve tried to talk to citizens about how the 5 Ws are still important when communicating with the police: Who, What, Where, When, and Why. It applies both to intel and for when you call 911 about a specific issue.

o WHO: When you call or e-mail us, have a good description of who you’re talking about. Every report we do has a few boxes that held describe someone. Those are: race, sex, ethnicity, age range, height, weight, build, eye color, hair color, complexion, hair style, scars or tattoos, facial hair, hat, coat, pants, and shirt. When you call about something, take some time out to look at a person and get a good description.

A bad lookout: 3 B/Ms hanging out in the block selling drugs.

A good lookout: 3 B/Ms, one 18 to 20 with a white shirt with orange stripes and red hat, one 20 to 25 with dreads, white shirt and green sneakers and a fat build, one 25 to 30 with a tan jacket, black jeans, clean cut with a thin build and dark complexion.

o WHAT: If you’re calling about suspicious activity, articulate what it is. If it’s the usual call about black men hanging out, that’s not going to help us. If it’s about drug dealing, be specific: Are there hand to hand transactions? People biking or running up to a car repeatedly? Lookouts on foot or bikes? Is there a stash that the dealers might be going to.

o WHERE: Where is the activity that you want to report occurring? intersections are sometimes nice, but like most MPD Officers, I’m trained to locate things by street, block, and cardinal direction. Saying that there’s a suspicious vehicle at J Street and 18th., N.W. is fairly vague. Are you saying it’s the at the intersection? Or is it on one of the streets and down 50 feet but close? You’re always going to get a better response if you say something is occuring in the 1800 block of J Street, N.W., north side, or the west alley of the 1000 block of 18th Street, N.W.. Be specific!

o WHEN: When did the thing you’re calling about occur? For instance, saying you were just robbed doesn’t help because we’re going to bee-line right to wherever you are and the canvasing units are going to start hitting the nearest streets and alleys. If you were really robbed 15 minutes ago, say so because then we’ll have a better idea how far out to canvas. If you’re living on a block with narcotics activity, tell us when it’s happening, i.e. after 9pm, in the mornings, etc.

o WHY: Tell us why you’re calling or e-mailing us. Do you live on the block? They nearby alleyway? Are you calling in as a concerned citizen not willing to be interviewed about the domestic assault occurring next door, or are you a family member getting a call from the victim. Are you the victim of a crime. All that’s important.

If the local crews and their members are so well known to police, why isn’t MPD more aggressively using its powers of search and seizure to get evidence about murders/shootings when these events occur? The probable cause for a warrant is not the most demanding standard, and searches can be authorized for any evidence of a crime (not just, say, the smoking gun), yet rarely do we here about raids on the homes of known crew members believed to be connected to these crimes.

o I’m not a Detective nor a Vice officer, so I’ve never written a search warrant. However, getting a search warrant for someone’s residence is a lot more demanding then even getting an arrest warrant. In general, patrol officers are discouraged from writing up search warrants because they need to be written in such a way that will allow them to stand up in court. Just because you might be able to write a warrant that will stand up to the scrutiny of a judge in chambers doesn’t mean it’ll stand up in trial.

o Search warrants require a different kind of information and are worried about different things than arrest warrants. Yes, P.C. is not an exceptionally demanding standard compared to preponderance of evidence or beyond a reasonable doubt, but that doesn’t make getting a search warrant off something like a simple possession bust easy.

o Remember that the definition of Probable Cause that MPD officers have driven into their heads is: A set of facts, circumstances, or reliable information that would lead a reasonable, prudent, and cautious police officer to believe that a crime has been committed and that a certain person committed it; or that a place to be searched contains the items to be siezed.

What purpose do the laptops installed in patrol cars play, and what – if anything – is being done about using them to surf the web and watch movies. Many times when I walk by a patrol car officers are staring at the things and paying no attention what so ever to what’s happenning around them.

o If I’m in a car, I can usually use my laptop for three things: Getting dispatched calls or dispatch information, running individuals in NCIC or other databases, and writing up reports.

o The idiots playing around on their computers are asking to get hurt or killed one day. It’s going to take a shooting or line-of-duty death to get many officers to stop dicking around on their MDTs.

I want to know why DC is so resistant to the Broken Windows method of law enforcement, when it has been shown to be so effective in other seeminly-intractable communities? What is the objection to improving quality of life while cutting down on petty crime? And does Lanier not “believe” in the results, that less petty crime eventually equals less major crime?

o I’m somewhat of a fan of the broken windows theory, but D.C. is set up to make quality of life crimes a slap on the wrist. If you get locked up for something like public urination or open container, you can elect to forfeit $25 and you’re out. It doesn’t matter how many times you get locked up for that kind of activity because 95% of the time you’re either going to pay out, or you’ll get a citation and not show up to trial. There’s no mechanism in place to punish repeat offenders for these kind of offenses.

o Slightly more serious crimes like assault, theft, defacing property, etc. are usually plead down to time served/probation, or are placed in a deferred prosecution status.

o There’s not enough personnel to process every quality of life arrest and maintain adaquate staffing. If you and half your PSA are out on POCA lockups, shoplifting, etc., there’s not enough people to adaquately cover your beat if something breaks out.

o There’s an element of peer pressure if you’re the officer that’s always processing ‘pissant’ arrests for open container, unregistered auto, etc. instead of being on the street. Nobody is going to look down on you if you locked up the drunk who told you “Fuck You!” instead of pouring out his beer; but if you start doing that kind of thing every day you’re going to look like an officer too scared to do anything else.

o A good number of people locked up on quality of life arrests are pains in the ass. You can lock up Otis the neighborhood drunk, but if you lock him up and he either complains that he wants to go to the hospital for some bullshit reason or for one of the myriad of diseases a life-long boozehound has, you’ll end up tying up three officers: yourself doing the paperwork and two officers to babysit him while you wait for a few hours at the hospital while he gets checked out. A few go-rounds on a hospital detail will deter you from locking up the low-level problem children in your PSA.

What efforts are being made to have cross-jurisdictional enforcement of the laws with the many, many police agencies in town? I’m talking Metro Police, NPS, etc..

o Don’t let many of these agencies fool you in thinking that they can’t enforce D.C. laws. The largest/most visible outside agencies in D.C. (i.e. U.S. Capitol, Secret Service, U.S. Park, Federal Protective Service, F.B.I. Uniform, Metro Transit etc.) can make arrests and enforce D.C. code the same as MPD. Some of them are limited in terms of Jurisdiction

o As a grunt, the main things I’d like to are: the ability to communicate with outside agencies via radio, and for outside agencies to actually come and handle their jurisdiction. Metro Transit is especially egregious in not handing incidents on the Metro and Metrobus. If something goes down on either, it’s not worth having the dispatcher notify them because 95% of the time they’re not going to show up to handle it and they don’t have the people or the vehicles available. U.S. Park is far better and more responsive when it comes to incidents in their jurisdiction.

o Another improvement that could be made to outside agency/MPD communication is having outside agencies be able to access MPD’s reporting system. Right now there’s no little to no ability to easily access information about crime that occurrs in the metro, on federal park land, the Capitol complex, etc.

I’d ask, how many known juveniles are on the street today who were released from DYRS after being caught for violent crimes? Of those how many are located in Anacostia, SW, Shaw, Columbia Heights, Petworth, and Bloomingdale?

o Lots.

o A lot of offenders get dumped in group homes and end up either absconding permenantly or on a regular basis with little to no consequence for failure to adhere to the condiitons or directives imposed by DYRS. The absconder problem with youths in the custody of DYRS (and CFSA) became such a problem that in many districts that I’m aware of no longer dispatch Officers to take absconder reprots and instead direct group homes to call the station to file the report.

o Many offenders are released into the custody of group homes in the same neighborhoods in which they live or grew up in, so the only difference between before they were locked up and after is where the periodically sleep.

o If you knew how many group homes for DYRS wards, CFSA wards, and the mentally ill were operating in many neighborhoods east of the park, your jaw would probably drop.

With regard to how kids get off the rails in the first place, can we talk about truancy? The attendance and drop-out rate at DCPS is disgraceful, yet I see school-aged kids in Chinatown all day and they are never approached by the numerous police. Do police need additional authority to question likely truants? Does DCPS need more truant officers? How many dedicated truant officers are there?

o I personally don’t give a shit about truants because the kids skipping school don’t want to be there in the first place. If they get trucked back to school, they’re either going to leave again or disrupt the classroom for the few students who actually care to try to learn.

o DCPS doesn’t have truancy officers; MPD handles it and usually there’s one officer on daywork assigned to Truancy.

First, with regard to the many juveniles who are already involved in violent crime, is the council prepared to support legislation to establish a public juvenile repeat violent offender registry, to include violent crimes as well as attempted violent crimes and weapons violations?

o The council can start by making juveniles arrested for serious crimes of violence Title 16’d by default (i.e. charged as an adult) and remanded to juvenile court only at the order of an Superior Court judge.

o The council should take a page from D.C. Superior Court Chief Judge Satterfield’s recommendations and take DYRS completely out of the loop when it comes to sentencing. They should also break down the barrier between juvenile sentencing and adult sentencing that prevents offenders from being held beyond their 21st birthday.

o The council should reopen a prison-style Oak Hill to hold violent offenders or juveniles being held pending trial. It doesn’t have to be in Oak Hill; there’s plenty of space at D.C. general for an extra wing at D.C. Jail. Otherwise many offenders get placed at group homes which do nothing to securely hold youth offenders.

o The law and procedure for juvenile offenders needs to be changed so that the OAG can handle juvenile cases like they (or the USAO) handles adult cases i.e. dispensing with the requirement that complainants in juvenile cases have to appear in person at the OAG’s office on the day of a case being papered. A scary number of juvenile cases are dropped because the complainant doesn’t want to appear at 8 or 9 am the day a case is papered. The USAO’s office doesn’t require this in adult cases; why should the OAG?

57 Comment

  • “I personally don’t give a shit about truants because the kids skipping school don’t want to be there in the first place. If they get trucked back to school, they’re either going to leave again or disrupt the classroom for the few students who actually care to try to learn.”

    Oh my god, please tell me you’re kidding. MPD apparently doesn’t see the correspondence to kids being out of school and kids committing crimes.

    As a teacher, I can tell you that it *does* impact a kid when they are “caught”, and usually the more times they are “caught” the more afraid/reluctant they will be to continue doing whatever they are doing wrong. If it’s more of a hassle for a kid to be out of school (because they are constantly getting questioned by police), they will GO TO SCHOOL. Or they will stay home and NOT COMMIT CRIMES.

    Your answer shows utter LAZINESS, which is why people are so fed up to here with MPD. Shame on you!

    • I don’t see any laziness in what this officer said. If anything, what this post shows is that the answers to the crime problem are not as simplistic as many of us would like to believe.
      So after (how many?) arrests for truancy, the kid becomes afraid to cut school and instead stays in school where he or she then disrupts the classroom for the kids who do want to learn. One problem “solved,” another problem created.
      You are dreaming if you think these kids are just going to stay indoors for the 8 hours of the school day. Or that being arrested for truancy, for which there is no real penalty, is going to inspire them to start learning.
      There are a limited amount of resources available and they have to be prioritized.

      • Good point. Jyveniles are not technically arrested for truancy. They are brought to a truancy center for pickup.

      • Kids should not have to go to school if they don’t want to sit for 8 hours? Are you serious?

        I just keep hearing that MPD wants to have officers “available” for other needs/bigger offenses. At what point will they start from the bottom and move up? Unless you have another call, DEAL WITH THE PROBLEM RIGHT IN FRONT OF YOU for crying out loud.

        Truancy is a real problem, one of many small problems, and not giving “a shit” about it is an even bigger one.

        Of course there are no simple solutions. Of course it’s a tough job. But MPD ignoring “small problems” just in case a big one comes along is exactly why this city is a crime-ridden mess.

        • No offense, but MPD ostensibly exists to protect and serve. DCPS ostensibly exists to educate the kids. In that division of labor, I know on which institution I place responsibility for truancy.

          In some real-world Mayberry, I absolutely agree that cops should deal with truants. But this is DC. For every truant, there’s a half-dozen drug deals or property crimes or worse. Did you read the laundry list of things this guy writes, his general buy-in on a broken windows theory of law enforcement, as well as his overarching theme that there is a significant population of wholly dysfunctional society here? It’s a sorry statement about the city in which we live, but it doesn’t make him wrong: so what if you get that kid back in school for the day? Is anyone better for it? (And how many of those kids have weapons/drugs on them? Let’s say he did hound truants all day … is it even consistent with a theory of truancy enforcement to then pat them down and worry about the other problems he might come across?)

          • I’m a youth worker and I have to back up what this teacher is saying. With juvenile delinquency, truancy is often the first step and crime/incarceration follow. If there’s no early intervention, the kid who is just cutting school will meet up with the kids who are already on the road to crime or criminals and will get involved in tagging/gangs/drugs. For some kids, getting arrested is a wake-up call. For some parents, too – so many parents are busy with work and trying to just hold it together to feed their kids, that they might not even be aware that the kid they packed off to school in the morning never actually made it there.

            It’s sort of like the broken windows approach. Early intervention aimed at activities that might seem like not a “huge deal” (such as truancy) actually prevents bigger things from happening. If MPD doesn’t have the resources to deal with truancy, there has to be increased funding. DCPS needs to have truancy officers. Youth services and outreach need to be expanded to target areas where kids hang out, like Gallery Place. This is a city with around 2,500 gang-affiliated youth. There are many reasons why kids join gangs; not going to school exposes them to all kinds of behaviors and influences that will lead many to become gang-affiliated and involved in crime.

            The last thing this city needs is cops with so little understanding of youth issues and how they are connected to crime that they “don’t give a shit” about truancy. This, right there, is the root of the MPD problem as far as youth crime is concerned – they just have no clue where to target their interventions. Tip: by the time that truant kid has graduated to selling drugs and is arrested, it’s already too late.

  • PoP,
    Thank you and this Officer for perhaps the most informative post on this board ever. It is great to hear the inside view and get informed answers to the questions that pop up on this forum all the time.

    • agree – this is awesome

      • Awesome and yet really, really depressing at the same time.

        • I agree, wholeheartedly. While this contains a number of comments that will, doubtless, spark all kinds of reactionary chatter, both rational and irrational, this kind of thoughtful, honest, in-depth conversation between the police and the citizens is priceless. I appreciate it greatly.

          I just hope that this officer doesn’t get in trouble for it…

    • +2! This was awesome and I appreciate the honesty of his/her answers

    • Agreed, awesome info, I’d encourage the officer to write a book or run for office or something, s/he’s got smarts and ability. None of this surprised me though, as I’ve talked to officers in the past. Also note there is zero legislative action on the horizon to deal with any of this. DYRS might soon release juvenile offender names, but I do not see that as a solution.

      I left DC last week and am still so damn happy about it. Best buzz ever!

      • saf

        Ok, so you hate DC and are glad to be gone. So why are you still here talking about DC?

        • Because the internet goes everywhere and I will always be amazed at the intentional dysfunction of DC. I’ve been all over the world and absolutely nothing beats the entertainment value of Marion Barry and his ilk, and don’t even get me started on the omens that the burbling racial hatred of DC portend for the rest of the country. I also believe that every situation has benefactors, and I will not rest until I divine who is really benefiting from the shit that is DC. Slum lords? Crime lords? Phil Mendelson? Who is benefiting from a murdered black man/boy every 36 hours? Who???

          I don’t hate DC, I just can’t afford to live in the decent parts and can’t stand the parts I can afford. Sorry if you don’t approve, I’m just delighted that through hard work and perseverance I made it out.

  • Yes Yes Yes. This needs to become a regular feature on here. Keep this officer’s anonymity secure, but his insider perspective is invaluable.

  • Another MPD member here who really enjoyed this post. Spot on.

  • On truancy I am not surprised or disappointed with the officer’s answer, though of course truants need to be routinely rounded up so they get the idea that they can’t be out in public screwing around during the school day. DCPS should have dedicated truant officers to serve this function, it’s just not a good use of a line-policeman’s time. That line-policeman should be able to call DCPS and move on.

    Aside from that: This is such useful information and insight. As a follow-up, where do the police think that we, as voters and community members, should apply pressure to get MPD the tools they need? It sounds like the most useful thing would be to work towards getting court procedure streamlined and insecure youth group homes shuttered, or removed as an option for those who have committed violent or dangerous crimes. Is that right?

    • The place to begin applying pressure is the City Council, they are the ones who make the restrictive rules regarding the treatment, prosecution and housing of Juveniles. The current City Council is soft on crime and even softer on Juvenile crime and offenders. The other place to look is in the mirror, all city residents are responsile for allowing this to continue for so long without demanding that the mayor and the council act decisively to stop it.

      • Arresting the many offenders in DC means arresting black people. Politically its a non-starter. The community tolerates crime and crapulence. End of story. You can change the community slowly and in the long term, but there’s no hope of a quick solution IMHO.

  • Great, great work here. Second the call for biweekly sit-downs with Officer X.

  • Excellent perspective – thanks. As for truancy – couldn’t we get some kind of “drunk tank” for them? Pick them up and drop them off there for the day. No toys or games – bore the crime right out of them. No release until they write an essay and a parent comes to pick them up.

    • But the parents don’t care and are too young and immature themselves to deal with problems of this magnitude. The only way to solve the problem of juvenile offenses is to start really punishing them – put them away for long periods of time for violent crimes. I find the group home dynamic WAYYYY more depressing than the truancy. We are repopulating of neighborhoods with violent offenders who don’t really have to answer to anyone. They show up when they want to and don’t have any consequence for not staying in the home – YIKES!

    • Better yet, lock them up til 6pm. Those extra few hours of confinement, after they would have gotten out of school had they gone, would be torture.

      • Work camp. Pink Jumpsuits. If they opt to not go to school and they get caught, they go to work camp for the day. Read a book or sweep a street. Even better- The city could hire these truants out and keep the money to go back into DCPS.

        • They tend to beat each other (or bystanders) severely with the books and brooms.

          • Hard to feel like a hardass in a pink jumpsuit. Especially if you are working somewhere with high visibility, say the park across the street from the school, or the Metro- Or another jurisdiction altogether. Let’em clean Baltimore. . .

          • Aren’t there certain gangs that wear pink? I don’t think the color is as sissified as it used to be.

            How ’bout pink bunny suits, a la A Christmas Story?

  • Great post, and very useful info from an inside perspective, but I have to respond to this:

    “Given a choice between walking and pushing a scout car, most officers won’t willingly volunteer for a foot or mountain bike beat. Assigned foot beats are usually pretty small and get repetitive fast. Walking or biking eight and half hours a day can take a toll on your body. ”

    Sorry, no, you don’t get a pass. A culture where MPD is taking the easy road is a recipe for disaster, and by this comment I feel that a large percentage of the force is already there. It doesn’t have to be every day, and it doesn’t have to be for a full shift, b what’s wrong with parking the patrol car and taking a couple hours to walk the blocks? Talk to the neighbors? Stop in on the local establishments? If the answer is that it makes officers less capable of responding to calls (I would argue that bike patrols are MORE capable in an urban environment) then it’s a recognized staffing problem. “I don’t wanna” is not a staffing problem.

    • The officer said that biking makes more sense downtown, but that up in places like Petworth cars are better. I see his point. Especially in like, Deanwood.

      As for truancy, again I see his point.

      I wish you guys would stop taking shots at this guy just because he doesn’t support some initiative you THINK you want. I really appreciate his candor and I find his opinions remarkably UN-jaded for someone who fights crime in DC every day. He’s certainly doing far better than I ever could of staying motivated! Keep up the good work sir.

      • Or ma’am…

      • I absolutely appreciate the candor, my point was that sitting in a patrol car because you don’t *want* to walk/bike is not a good excuse. And I would argue that for ALL relatively dense retail and residential neighborhoods (and Petworth is certainly one of them, hell anything within a few blocks of most Metro stations) having at least occasional foot patrols is not asking for the moon.

        • Point taken. But I don’t think officers’ not wanting to walk or bike is the main reason for the lack of foot patrols in some areas. I think this officer was just expressing the opinion of a segment (perhaps even most) of the rank and file. At the end of the day, the officers do what they are told. Remember the complaining about “all hands on deck” operations? Officers grumble, the union complains, but the operations go ahead anyway.
          I think the driving force behind the lack of foot patrols is what the officer referred to as “statistics-driven policing.” Police departments all over the country, particularly in major metropolitan areas, look at numbers to determine whether they are making progress, and there is constant pressure to make the numbers better. As the officer pointed out, foot patrols in some neighborhoods would result in response times going up, which would be perceived as a decrease in performance.
          When Ramsey was police chief he was constantly asked about foot patrols and he gave the same answer – that cars allowed for faster response times.
          Of course, numbers don’t tell the whole story. If there was a shootout in broad daylight on your block, you’re not likely to be comforted by the assurance that crime in DC is lower overall

    • You sit in an Aeron chair at a desk all day, don’t you?

  • This is really informative for the average citizen. The candor is greatly appreciated. It is particularly compelling to hear an officer’s perspective (frustration) outside of a response call, community meeting, or public statement.
    I think that most people reading this want to find better solutions and a key step in that is having a more informed populous. So thanks, though I may not necessarily agree with all of the sentiments expressed.

  • Thanks, POP and anonymous MPD officer. This was great.

  • Well it sounds like we need to increase the penalities for the youth. Do we need to petition city council? Where does Jim Graham stand on youth offenders?

    • Phil Mendelson is infamous for defending this seriously deficient juvenile justice system. I’m not sure Jim Graham is much better.

      As a pretty liberal guy, I feel the need to say there are instances where bleeding hearts are valuable in our representation, but the joke of system does not remediate kids by being gentle, and it certainly doesn’t work as a deterrent. We need a little more Rudy Giuliani type demeanor and a little less of what Phil Mendelson and Jim Graham have to offer on this issue.

    • Yes we certainly need to increase youth penalties and allow incarceration past the age of 21.

      Unfortunately such changes will never happen in DC. The majority of DC residents are either vested in a weak juvenile justice system (since many of their nephews and grandchildren are ensnared in it) or live comfortably west of the park.

  • GREAT post!

    A highlight for me was the following comment, something that seems immediately achievable as a way to reduce youth crime:
    “The council should take a page from D.C. Superior Court Chief Judge Satterfield’s recommendations and take DYRS completely out of the loop when it comes to sentencing.”

  • Is there anything that can be done about all these teenagers becoming single moms that lead to the future juvenile offenders? There should be a better way to educate these women about their options upon pregnancy.

    • Many of them do know but don’t give a shit…

      See most of the people who live in low income areas and projects know about the resources out here but many of them just don’t care. They’d rather have baby after baby and collect monthly welfare checks, food stamps, and live in section 8 housing. They don’t have to do anything forreal.

      or for the dudes they figure hustling is the best way to go because for many of them, thats all the know and/or want. Yet, most of them know resources to get a job, trade school whatever.

      Been to a welfare clinic before? I have plenty of times and there are big signs that advertise free classes in carpentry, computer tech, plumbing, and other trades all for free.

      and condoms ain’t an issue, they can also be received for free at any health clinic or welfare office in D.C. So what it comes down to is laziness and not giving a damn.

  • Disagree re: “laziness and not giving a damn”. Some young women see having a man’s baby as a way to tie that man to herself and increase her financial security. Also, parents get priority on public housing and other benefits. Having a baby is, not uncommonly, a calculated move within the rules of the game.
    The solution? Change the rules AND the culture that has been built up around them. The route to that solution? No idea.

  • Wow. Bitter much, briefly? We get it. You hate this city, and think it will always remain a cess pool. Get over it, and enjoy your new home. If you can’t mangage that, maybe you can find the comment section of a blog more local to you, and inundate it with negative comments.

  • Thanks to the officer for his time.

  • Appreciate the officer’s post — very enlightening. But one question: other cities that instituted the Broken Windows style of enforcement had the same problems that the officer cites — repeat offenders, lack of resources, lack of personnel, pain-in-the-ass lowlifes, etc etc — but those cities managed to make it work. What’s stopping DC from getting it right?

    • Exactly! As I understand it, from the funding/resource perspective, doing Broken Windows style police work means more funding and time spent up-front, so that that in the long run the department saves money because bigger issues will have been prevented. And I think a city using the model would save money in the long run too – people staying in the city and paying taxes instead of going to the burbs, economic loss from crime goes down, emergency room use goes down, less time/resources spent by police and fire since there are fewer major calls, etc.

      I just moved here and having lived in other areas with major crime issues (NYC in the 90s), the lack of visible police presence is very noticeable. Sure, they are always up-and-down my street with sirens on, but I don’t see them out and about, on foot, addressing minor concerns, talking to kids walking from school, etc. It’s just weird. You’d think this city would be perfect for community policing, what’s with all the walkable neighborhoods in close proximity to each other and involved community. I only assume it’s entrenched old-school ideas about what policing should be. Yes, it’s physically and emotionally difficult, but if you aren’t prepared to get engaged and walk and bike your beat, this job is just not for you, IMO.

  • I was rather put back by the officer’s choice of words. Using s*itbag to describe kids, whether they are offenders or not, opens the window int whether this officer is categorizing people into classes. And what classifies someone as a s*itbag? There are plenty of kids in suburban areas that vandalize cars, get into fights, and bully other kids, they end up being wall street execs, but in the city if kids do the equivalent, and officers railroad them, they don’t end up being much of anything afterwords, because they permanently carry the label of being a s*itbag.

    Protect and SERVE, not protect and judge.

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