- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 3, 2015


The facts: “The DC Prevention Center reports that K2/Spice or fake weed use among youth has increased significantly since 2008. The average age of a fake weed user in DC is 13 years old.”

The source: k2zombiedc.com/zombie-survival-guide/, a D.C. government website.

The evidence: On Tuesday, D.C. police put $2.3 million worth of confiscated designer drugs on display.

The human equation: Scores of people each week are tended to by police officers and firefighters, ambulance crews and emergency room staff. Like Janis, Jimi and Amy, not all of these people live to relay their out-of-this-world experiences.

The solution: Focus like a laser on changing human behavior.

SEE ALSO: James Dougherty, Metro safety chief, resigns following derailment

The question: What’s taking so long?

The answer: Political finger-pointing and poverty pimping.

We’ve seen much of late. This week, for example, the D.C. police rank-and-file handed an overwhelming no-confidence vote to Metropolitan Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier, who joined the force in 1990 when crack was king, and “butt-naked” and “angel dust” were the designer drugs of choice in D.C.

Also, a week ago, Mayor Muriel Bowser laid out her $15 anti-crime initiative, which includes additional patrols, encouraging business and residents to purchase security cameras, cracking down on criminals who wear ankle monitoring bracelets and giving grants to nonprofits to help crime victims.

“There is no single reason or a single solution,” the mayor said.

And she is right.

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But what she apparently does not get is what she, her deputy minions and her legislative co-partners must do is change the narrative.

Begging her pardon and that of the chief, but designer drug suppliers reinvent their illegal concoctions quicker than they can say “What’s Up?” — which happens to be another popular synthetic drug.

A lackluster approach to what clearly is a public health and — and — a public safety problem has to be perceived differently if the city is to be taken off its collision course.

Community policing can help, but only if all hands are on deck 24/7.

And even then, “policing” the “community” has its limitations if the “community” has no confidence in the “police” — a message the Black Lives Matter hecklers interjected into the mayor’s speech last week.

The lackluster effort to employ a “holistic” and broader approach won’t avoid the collision either. Mayor Sharon Pratt tried it, Mayor Marion Barry tried it, Mayor Tony Williams tried it, Mayor Adrian Fenty tried it and Mayor Vincent Gray tried it.

Didn’t work then, won’t work now.

Again, change the narrative.

Ask the faith-based community. Ask rabbis to work in neighborhoods where Judeo-Christian values don’t roll off tongues. Ask Baptist ministers to preach the word outside of the pulpit. Reach out to whatever denomination, every denomination.

Take advantage of Pope Francis’ upcoming visit to D.C. After all, children and adults needn’t be Roman Catholic to understand the significance of his U.S. visit, which is about family, if someone explains it to them.

Those in need depend on good deeds of religious institutions to help them make ends meet, and those good deeds often get public dollars.

Change the narrative and stop calling designer drugs “synthetic marijuana.” That is a misnomer, and these ignoramuses discover the truth too late.

Change the narrative and focus like a laser beam on children and adults “not caught up in the system.”

Change the narrative from victimization to responsibility and accountability.

I know that the accountability aspect is a double-edged sword for politicians, who could lead voters to kick them to the curb.

But if we are to get to the heart of the drug supply-and-demand problem, we must change the narrative political objectives.

For the most part, anything less would be irresponsible and keep us on the public safety/public health collision course — and poverty pimping is the chief agenda.

Deborah Simmons can be reached at dsimmons@washingtontimes.com.

• Deborah Simmons can be reached at dsimmons@washingtontimes.com.

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