- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 19, 2006

The D.C. Council last night approved emergency legislation that authorizes surveillance cameras in neighborhoods, denies bail for armed-robbery suspects and institutes a 10 p.m. curfew for minors.

The vote was 12-1 for the legislation.

Those voting for the bill were Jim Graham, Ward 1 Democrat;Jack Evans, Ward 2 Democrat; Kathy Patterson, Ward 3 Democrat; Vincent B. Orange Sr., Ward 5 Democrat; Sharon Ambrose, Ward 6 Democrat; Vincent C. Gray, Ward 7 Democrat; Marion Barry, Ward 8 Democrat; Carol Schwartz, at-large Republican; David A. Catania, at-large independent; Kwame R. Brown, at-large Democrat; Phil Mendelson, at-large Democrat, and council Chairman Linda W. Cropp.

Adrian M. Fenty, Ward 4 Democrat, voted against it.

Mrs. Cropp called the legislature into a special session to act on Mayor Anthony A. Williams’ emergency crime bill.

“I’ve called the council back to a special emergency meeting because we have seen a recent spike in violent crime in the District … that is not acceptable,” said Mrs. Cropp, an at-large Democrat who is running for mayor. “We’re here today to do something about it.”

The legislation would allow closed-circuit surveillance cameras to be placed in communities at the discretion of Metropolitan Police Chief Charles H. Ramsey. On Tuesday, the chief said his officers would not actively monitor the cameras and would refer to them only when investigating a crime.

Officials said about 23 cameras would be installed around the city. City Administrator Robert C. Bobb said they cost between $35,000 and $45,000 each.

Police officials will develop a camera deployment strategy in the next few days, Mr. Williams said.

In 2002, the council voted 7-6 to allow the police department’s 19 closed-circuit cameras to be activated only for special events, such as protests and marches on the Mall and downtown around federal sites.

The legislation also moves the District’s summer curfew for minors from midnight to 10 p.m.

Mr. Fenty, who is running for mayor, criticized the measure, saying it would not do enough to prevent crime.

“There is great pressure on this government to do something about crime right now,” Mr. Fenty said before the vote. “The opportunity cost of voting for this measure without any serious proposal to address crime in the community is giving away our leverage.

“At the end of the day we will have voted on … no more officers on the street, no more innovative ways of dealing with crime, no more aggressive prosecution, just a few feel-good measures,” he said.

Last week, Chief Ramsey declared a citywide crime emergency in response to a recent spike in homicides, robberies and assaults.

There have been 15 homicides in the city this month, including the stabbing of a British political activist in Georgetown during an attempted rape and robbery. In addition, two groups of tourists were robbed at gunpoint on the Mall last week.

Mr. Williams, a Democrat who is not seeking re-election, made a rare appearance in the council chambers to listen to the legislative proceedings and answer questions from council members.

Officials with Mr. Williams’ office said he will sign the bill into law as soon as it is delivered to his office. The emergency bill would be in effect for 90 days from the time it is signed into law.

If officials want the items in the emergency law to remain effective, the council would need to vote on a permanent version of the legislation after it returns from recess Sept. 15.

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