The Washington Times - June 5, 2008, 12:27PM

In response to a rash of shootings, The Metropolitan Police Department announced that it will restrict motor vehicle access to some 5th District neighborhoods. There have been 14 fatal shootings in that area since April. Under the Neighborhood Safety Zones Program, police will require motorists to present identification and provide a reason for being in the restricted areas.

These neighborhood checkpoints have been used in several other cities. Some DC lawmakers like DC Councilmember Phil Mendelson, At-large Democrat, and civil rights leaders feel that they are illegal and might lead to abuse. The DC plan will be enacted by an Executive Order from DC Mayor Adrian M. Fenty.

Ward 5 DC Councilmember Harry Thomas, a Democrat, who represents the areas where the Zones will be deployed, said, “Neighborhood Safety Zones have to be evaluated and there are many other problems that need to be addressed in these areas. There has to be a mix of effective policing and other city services to help these neighborhoods.”

I don’t have a strong opinion about Neighborhood Safety Zones at this time. However, the mission of this online community is to focus on what connects communities and not what divides them (read my inaugural post).  By deploying them, I feel we are erecting more barriers, which isolate entire communities and have the potential to diminish the self-esteem of those that live in them. Yet something has to be done immediately to stem the tide of fatal shootings.

I agree with Councilmember Thomas, let’s evaluate them for now and find a way to get to the root cause of the problem.

What are your thoughts about Neighborhood Safety Zones?

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