- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 8, 2000

Putting more police officers on the streets can't stop shootings of people "who engage in risky behaviors," such as "getting drunk, shooting craps late at night, hanging out with whores and selling, buying or using dope," a senior District of Columbia police official said yesterday.
"Too many of the people being victimized in shootings are putting themselves at risk," said Executive Assistant Police Chief Terrance W. Gainer. "They have chosen a lifestyle that dramatically increases the opportunity to hurt themselves.
"That's not to say anyone deserves to be killed, but there's only so much police can do."
Chief Gainer said the recent rash of homicides in the District has prompted the Metropolitan Police Department to focus on low-level criminals and "quality of life" crimes they commit that often escalate into violence.
Under an officer deployment plan, a new wave of officers will hit the streets on Aug. 22 and target public drinking, outdoor gambling and loitering crimes that often create the atmosphere for homicides, he said in the first detailed explanation of the plan.
"That stuff is what erupts into worse crime," said Chief Gainer, the No. 2 official in the police department. "We want to nip that in the bud."
D.C. police also will increase the number of arrest warrants they serve, especially on "middle-of-the-road and low-key criminals" who usually get caught only if they are detained and officers check their records, Chief Gainer said.
The redeployment plan will pair experienced officers with expertise in areas such as narcotics and experienced beat officers who know the ins and outs of their police service areas (PSAs), Chief Gainer said.
"That type of partnering one a veteran PSA officer, the other with a specialty will make a dynamic duo," he said.
The Metropolitan Police Department officials last week announced the plan to flood high-crime areas with additional officers after a spate of a dozen homicides in as many days.
Many of the recent homicides involved drugs or "crews," rather than gangs, said Assistant Chief Ronald Monroe. Crews are more associated with geographic areas than gangs, he said.
The plan to deploy 1,000 more officers, which was modified after an outcry from undercover officers about the duty change, starts later this month. It calls for each group of 225 officers to work the "power shift," 6 p.m. to 2 a.m., for one week a month, in addition to the now-permanent mobile force of 100 overtime officers set up in hot spots to deter crime.
Chief Gainer said that will put 350 to 400 more officers on the streets at a time. The officers will not be deployed evenly throughout the city, but rather to the high-crime areas most in need of extra patrols, based on crime trends and statistics.
Additional officers in high-crime areas may dissuade "medium-level" criminals from congregating in these areas. Members of the department's intelligence unit will try to identify "hard-core" suspects who frequent such locales, said Mr. Monroe.
D.C. police already have task forces with the FBI and U.S. Marshal's Service to target violent fugitives, Chief Gainer said, but the department will focus on serving arrest warrants for less-serious crimes "to get people off the street before they do something worse."
"If we get proactive, we can get abusers off the streets quickly and get incarceration and treatment for them," he said.
The police plan elicited skepticism from residents of the Brookland neighborhood in Northeast, where three persons died in shootings in eight days.
"It's something, but it ain't much," said Laura Matheson, a member of the Brookland Neighborhood Safety Association, which formed after a rash of violent robberies in the area this year.
"I don't see that as a huge impact. I don't see that as being a huge help to any neighborhood," she said.
Ms. Matheson said city officials need to increase the size of the police force, which she acknowledged does not have enough resources or officers.
One detective told Ms. Matheson he had 150 open cases.
"When you're doing 150 things at the same time, it's really hard to get anything done. That doesn't work."
Jeff Wilson, another member of the Brookland Neighborhood Safety Association, said, "It's a quick fix."
"Police know where the troubled areas are, and they need to put a stop to that," he said. "Why wasn't this done years ago?"
The new officer deployment plan is an effort to strengthen the "enforcement" portion of the department's three-pronged approach to reducing crime. The focus of the other two are working with other city agencies and the community to reduce the systemic problems that lead to crime.
"Some mopes just need to be locked up," Chief Gainer said.
"You can't get crime out of the way with lockup, penitentiary and execution, but some of that goes a long way."

Copyright © 2019 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide