- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 18, 2000

There were a few tense moments between the Metropolitan Police Department and demonstrators protesting the lending policies of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. Nothing alarming, though, considering the potential for violent outbursts that has loomed every day since the middle of last week. And, while hundreds were arrested and scores of others tested the resolve of D.C. officers, police did precisely what was expected. That is, they maintained law and order. It was not easy, and it did not come cheaply.

Charles Ramsey, chief of the Metropolitan Police Department, had to coordinate activities with two dozen local and federal law-enforcement agencies. He also had to work with local and federal transportation agencies, and he had to work with high-level federal and foreign officials to ensure the safety of not only his officers and the demonstrators themselves, but the dignitaries, tourists and daily commuters as well as the ordinary denizens of the nation's capital. The police force met practically everyone's expectations.

Except, of course, the expectations of the demonstrators. To hear them tell it, the out-of-towners expected to ride into Washington and become as unruly as they had five months ago in Seattle, where similar demonstrations caught police off guard and led to a shutdown. Washington, on the other hand, was prepared.

Nearly half the force was detailed to the demonstrations and downtown Washington, and Mr. Ramsey and other high-ranking officials literally walked alongside demonstrators as officers in riot gear controlled the masses. Meanwhile, intelligence picked up on potential criminal activity and shut down those operations. Remember, demonstrators repeatedly said they would conduct "civil" activities. Well, fortunately, police thwarted plans for disruption, which were well underway in otherwise peaceful neighborhoods. Indeed, Washington's finest are due huge thanks in return.

So, by the way, are the taxpayers who live in the nation's capital because they, alone, are expected to foot the bill. At this juncture, the tally is unknown, but city leaders, including D.C. Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton, expect the total to be several million. (Congress gave Seattle a special appropriation of $5 million.) The District's costs include at least $1.6 million in police overtime, untallied costs for fire, ambulance services and other emergency services, overtime costs for other D.C. personnel as well as new riot and crowd-control gear.

Mrs. Norton, Mayor Anthony Williams and D.C. Council Chairman Linda Cropp appealed directly to Rep. Bill Young, Republican chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, in an April 13 letter. That letter says, in part, that "Congress has enacted legislation allowing for systemic funding to cover these events. The 1997 National Capital Revitalization and Self-Government Improvement Act provides that the unique status of the District of Columbia as the seat of the government of the United States imposes unusual costs and requirements that are not imposed on other jurisdictions and many of which are not reimbursed by the federal government and therefore allows for each subsequent fiscal year such amount as may be necessary for such contribution… . We are asking for the same $5 million that the Appropriations Committee appropriated for Seattle."

This is a reasonable request. When you factor in the remarkable job of the Metropolitan Police Department, which maintained round-the-clock law and order across the city, Congress should listen.

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