- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 4, 2007


Lanier approved as police chief

The D.C. Council yesterday approved Mayor Adrian M. Fenty’s nomination for the District’s police chief.

Cathy L. Lanier was chosen by Mr. Fenty in November to succeed Charles H. Ramsey as chief of the Metropolitan Police Department.

Chief Lanier previously served as 4th District commander and headed the Special Operations Division. She became the department’s first permanent female police chief.

Council members approved her nomination without objection.

Phil Mendelson, at-large Democrat and chairman of the council’s Committee on Public Safety and the Judiciary, said he supported Chief Lanier’s nomination “based on her strong credentials [and] her record thus far as acting chief.”

Council advances HPV vaccine bill

The D.C. Council yesterday gave preliminary approval to a bill creating a human papillomavirus vaccination program for girls entering the sixth grade in the District.

The council passed the measure by a 7-3 vote, with one abstention. The bill, introduced by council members David A. Catania, at-large independent, and Mary M. Cheh, Ward 3 Democrat, aims to prevent HPV, which can cause cervical cancer.

The District has the highest rate of cervical cancer in the country, Mr. Catania said.

“I feel very positive about today’s vote,” Mr. Catania said. “Our actions will ultimately lead to a huge reduction in the number of our residents diagnosed with cervical cancer.”

The bill includes an opt-out provision for parents and guardians who do not want their children to receive the vaccine. Some council members still expressed concerns about the program and unknowns associated with the vaccine.

“My parent voice tells me that I have to go a little further than what we’re doing here today,” said Harry Thomas Jr., Ward 5 Democrat. “I think we’re treading on some very dangerous ground when we don’t take time on issues like this.”

Mayor Adrian M. Fenty, a Democrat, has supported the legislation. The council will take a final vote on the bill at its next legislative meeting.

Chemicals to alter tap-water taste

Tap water in the District is expected to taste different for a few weeks beginning this Saturday.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is making a monthlong change in disinfectant chemicals at the Washington Aqueduct. Customers who obtain their water from the D.C. Water and Sewer Authority could notice a slight chlorine taste in water drawn from their taps.

The switch is standard plant maintenance to keep water mains clean.

Officials said customers who use tap water for home dialysis or aquariums may want to talk with specialists about any necessary modifications in their routines.

First epilepsy walk raises $1 million

The first National Walk for Epilepsy brought more than 5,000 people to the National Mall on Saturday and raised $1 million to help build awareness of epilepsy.

The event was sponsored by the Epilepsy Foundation and Ortho-McNeil Neurologics.

Epilepsy is a common neurological condition that makes people susceptible to seizures and affects more than 3 million children and adults in the United States.

Wesley Autrey, who jumped onto the tracks of the New York Subway to save a man who had fallen during a seizure, took part in the walk to help educate people about how to respond if they witness someone having a seizure.



Crime rate plunges for year’s first quarter

Richmond has recorded a sharp decline in homicides through the first three months of the year.

The six homicides in the first quarter compare with 28 at the same time last year.

At the current pace, Richmond would end this year with 24 homicides, far below the unofficial target of fewer than 80 killings that Police Chief Rodney Monroe set for his department at the beginning of the year.

The 78 percent decline is part of a three-year slide in the homicide rate in a city of 190,000 that often ranks among the most deadly in the nation, per capita.

Chief Monroe is a former assistant chief of the District’s Metropolitan Police Department.

Arson, burglary, larceny and auto theft, as well as violent crime such as rape, also have dipped markedly in the first three months of the year.

Chief Monroe said several enforcement initiatives have helped the department keep down violent crime. They include aggressive enforcement of the city’s open-air drug markets.



Three bodies found in wooded area

Montgomery County police said three bodies, including those of two children, were found in the woods in the Barnesville area yesterday.

Police spokeswoman Lucille Baur said the bodies were discovered shortly after 3 p.m. off Barnesville Road, not far from the Frederick County line. She said the mother of the children called 911 to report a “possible suicide.”

Miss Baur said the bodies were those of a 35-year-old Hispanic man and his children, a 3-year-old girl and a 1-year-old boy. The identities of the victims were not being released until police notified family members, she said.

It wasn’t clear how long the bodies had been in the woods. An investigation is continuing.


Woman dies in house fire

A woman died in a Riverdale Heights house fire yesterday morning.

Prince George’s County firefighters were called out to battle a blaze in the 6300 block of 58th Avenue after 8 a.m. and found a two-story wood-frame home engulfed in smoke and flames.

Fire department spokesman Mark Brady said firefighters had a difficult search because of debris and other items stored throughout the house.

The woman, who lived alone, was found in a bedroom. She was pronounced dead at the scene.


‘Bored’ teens charged with hate crimes

Charles County authorities have charged four teenage boys with hate crimes in connection with vandalism at a Waldorf school.

The charges stem from a March 18 incident at Dr. Gustavus Brown Elementary School.

Police said racially and sexually offensive graffiti and gang references were painted on playground equipment. Paintball stains were found on the school’s exterior walls.

The Charles County Sheriff’s Office said the three 14-year-olds and a 15-year-old all come from interracial families. They reportedly have admitted participating in the crime because they were bored.

They were charged with hate crimes and malicious destruction of property. Police do not think any of the teens was involved in the other hate crimes reported in the county since September.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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