- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 4, 2007

Marion Barry, the District’s erstwhile mayor for life, is hoping that the D.C. police force devotes its energies to solving homicides rather than wasting precious time and resources on discovering who burglarized his row house in Southeast last month.

This is the altruistic side of Mr. Barry, who, if you recall, told police not to worry about the two culprits who robbed him at gunpoint inside his home in early 2006. The fellows gained Mr. Barry’s confidence by offering to help with several bags of groceries. I know. That happens all the time to you as well. You are at your front door fumbling with your keys, while holding two cumbersome bags of groceries, when, out of nowhere, two young gentlemen offer to lend a hand.

Yep. That is our city, where the denizens are friendly, courteous and ever-helpful. Sure, guys. Come into the house. Stick the bags on the table over there. And thanks so very much. Huh? You say you want the flat-screen TV as payment? Uh, is that a yes/no question or a declaration?

Poor Mr. Barry. He has become a magnet for criminals, possibly because the criminals know he will grant them absolution after urging authorities to let it be.

It is true that the city is not efficient in solving murders, often because eyewitnesses practice the same philosophy as Mr. Barry. They do not want to be labeled a snitch, which is understandable. There is almost nothing worse in life than being called a snitch, although the family and friends of a murder victim possibly would differ with that view.

Police said jewelry and watches were taken from Mr. Barry’s home last month, when he was on a five-day trip to China to address a group of mayors there. Police said there was no sign of forced entry, which could mean any number of things.

Perhaps the burglar is a former locksmith. Or perhaps Mr. Barry, like nearly every other American, leaves a spare key to his home under the welcome mat at the front door. Or perhaps Mr. Barry, in his haste to catch a flight, forgot to lock the front door to his home before leaving on his trip to China.

The possibilities are endless and, fortunately for the police, Mr. Barry is not all that concerned about his stolen property. He thinks the police should be pursuing more important matters, as if solving a burglary reduces the effectiveness of a homicide unit.

But we understand the spirit of Mr. Barry’s message. We sometimes voice a similar refrain after receiving yet another parking ticket, which, incidentally, makes great wallpaper. The parking ticket as wallpaper is the new urban chic of interior designers.

Anyway, not unlike Mr. Barry, we think the city could better utilize its law-enforcement resources if it spent less time writing tickets and more time pursuing all the real criminals in our midst.

Recently, on my Beirut-like block of the city, three residents of a row house awoke one morning and found a strange person sleeping next to one of them in bed. The three residents said they did not know this person and did not grant the person permission to enter their home and sleep in bed with one of them.

Now, if Mr. Barry woke up next to a person he did not know — and he undoubtedly did back in the day — he probably would throw an extra blanket over the person, if not serve the person breakfast in bed.

He certainly would not want the police to pursue charges against the person, because he is a big-picture member of the D.C. Council. Breaking and entering? Not a problem. Stolen vehicle? Forget about it. Armed robbery? Let it go. Aggravated assault? Turn the other cheek.

Mr. Barry has a remarkable capacity to prioritize criminal activities.

His message to D.C. Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier is to solve all homicides and let everything else go.

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