- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 31, 2001

Two D.C. Council members yesterday criticized the Metropolitan Police Department's search for Chandra Levy, saying too many resources are being diverted to the missing-persons case.

"I wish we could find that missing woman so we could get our police officers back into the neighborhoods," said council member Kevin Chavous, Ward 7 Democrat. "The [police] chief is always saying the crime statistics show that crime is going down. They won't stay down with the [current] level of inattention. They will go up if we don't maintain a visible police presence."

Council member Sandy Allen, Ward 8 Democrat, said police have spent more time and money looking for Miss Levy than for black children.

"A lot of money and time has been spent on this case," she said in a prepared statement. "Especially since there are numerous African-American children who have been missing for an even longer amount of time who have not received that attention."

The city lawmakers' comments come as the search for the 24-year-old former intern enters its fourth month amid a blitz of media coverage. Police have no suspects and no evidence of a crime in Miss Levy's disappearance, and have said that leads in the case are drying up.

Police academy cadets yesterday searched Anacostia Park and Roosevelt Island and found men's and women's clothing and a broken knife. Police said none of the items appear to be related to the Levy case, which officials have said is the biggest missing-persons investigation in the police department's history.

Council member Kathy Patterson said the committee she heads eventually will review the Metropolitan Police Department's investigation into the disappearance of Miss Levy.

"Energy and attention should be focused on finding the missing young woman," said Mrs. Patterson, Ward 3 Democrat and chairman of the Judiciary Committee. "There will come a time when it will be appropriate for the Judiciary Committee to review the department's performance in this case and in other missing-persons cases throughout the District. But it is not time right now."

Police spokesman Sgt. Joe Gentile yesterday said Chief Charles H. Ramsey's decision to stop using cadets to search parks for Miss Levy this week was not a result of political pressure. He said Chief Ramsey felt the cadets had to return to class and had run out of places to search.

Sgt. Gentile said police still are receiving numerous telephone calls and e-mails that the detectives must verify, saying the use of resources is determined by the number of tips that have to be checked out. "No other investigation will take a back seat to the Levy investigation," he said.

"I think Ramsey is a top-flight law enforcement official, and he will do what is in his best judgment," said council member Harold Brazil, at-large Democrat. "I think his decision will be based on his judgment rather than the hot air people are blowing."

"All those naysayers are saying they are wasting time, but let them say that if it were their little girl," Mr. Brazil said.

The investigation had focused on Rep. Gary A. Condit, the California Democrat who admitted to police having had a romantic relationship with Miss Levy after denying it for weeks. But detectives cannot tie Mr. Condit, 53, or anyone else to her disappearance, and the investigation has appeared to lead nowhere.

Executive Assistant Police Chief Terrance W. Gainer said yesterday that police have no plans to interview Mr. Condit for a fifth time. In an appearance on CBS' "The Early Show," Chief Gainer said that police are not pursuing obstruction of justice charges against Mr. Condit, but that a federal probe of those charges is possible.

Mr. Condit was interviewed by police for a fourth time on Thursday, when he provided information to FBI Special Agent Melissa Thomas, a profiling specialist. The FBI is trying to establish a profile of Miss Levy to understand her better.

Miss Levy was planning to return to her home in Modesto, Calif., after the end of her internship with the federal Bureau of Prisons. She was last seen April 30, when she canceled her health club membership, but police found that she was searching the Internet on her computer on May 1.

• This article is based in part on wire service reports.

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