- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 20, 2001

Crime is down almost 10 percent in the District this month, but Metropolitan Police Department officials are not sure if the drop is attributable to last week's terror attacks.
Statistics gathered from Sept. 1 through Sept. 15 show that crime is down 9.7 percent from the same dates in 2000, Sgt. Joe Gentile said. New York and Washington were attacked on Sept. 11.
Sgt. Gentile said 1,699 crimes were reported during the first two weeks in September of last year while just 1,534 were reported this year.
The D.C. report coincides with those coming out of New York City, where crime dropped 34 percent last week from the comparable week a year ago, according to New York City Police Commissioner Bernard B. Kerik.
There have been no murders or rapes reported in lower Manhattan since the twin towers collapsed on Sept. 11. While there was some looting of smashed buildings, muggings and thefts are down, police said.
The phenomenon is common after disasters such as the San Francisco Bay area's 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake said New York police spokeswoman Detective Theresa Furillo. "But this is a disaster unlike any we've ever seen. So we didn't know what to expect."
In the area surrounding New York's disaster zone as big as some cities the only crimes reported in the past week were relatively petty, such as thefts and the occasional fight, police said.
Sgt. Gentile said he couldn't say whether the lower numbers in the District had anything to do with the attacks.
"All the reports we have are hand-counted," he said. "We can't get computer reports of just the last week because everybody here has been on security alert."
Police in the suburbs around Washington, however, say the bad guys are as active as ever.
"We would love to see a ripple effect and for the attacks to make people lay back from thefts, but right now we don't see anything like that," said Lucille Baur, Montgomery County police spokeswoman. "I would say we are receiving the normal amount of requests for assistance.
"If anything," she said, "We have seen a small increase in the number of hate crimes being reported."
As of Monday, the county had five confirmed reports of hate crimes toward the Islamic community.
"So far, we've been lucky because no one's been seriously hurt in those crimes," Miss Baur said.
Prince George's County police Cpl. Joe Merkel said his department also has been keeping a close eye on any crimes targeting Arab-Americans.
"The overall caseload seems to be pretty normal," he said.
Fairfax County and Fairfax City police officials said there has been a slight increase in the number of calls requesting police assistance since the terrorist attacks.
"The police department is seeing just as much activity, if not a bit more," Fairfax City Pfc. Jeff Morrison said.
In Alexandria, Lt. John Crawford said there may have been a slight decline in crime since the Pentagon was bombed, but no obvious or measurable trend has taken hold.
"It seems to be about average, right now," he said. "As this whole aftermath unfolds, we expect we may see more hate-related crimes."
This article is based in part on wire service reports.

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