Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Crime Emergency And Political Correctness

Since the information from this article appeared this morning in the July 12, 2006 edition of the Washington Post, six more people have been attacked and robbed on the National Mall:
"D.C. Police Chief Charles H. Ramsey reacted yesterday to a recent surge in homicides by declaring a 'crime emergency,' a move that gives him the freedom to quickly adjust officers' schedules and restrict their days off....

"The declaration gives him the power to quickly shift the department's 3,800 officers to areas and times they are needed most. He can change schedules without giving officers 14 days' notice, as required under the union contract. Ramsey said he will increase patrols in hard-hit neighborhoods and put nonuniformed officers on the streets to help provide the increased coverage."
The following provides some specific information as to why Chief Ramsey has declared ths emergency:
"Thirteen people [Since the publication of this article, that number has risen to fourteen, and July is not yet half over] have been killed since July 1 in the District, and police are being pressured to take action by residents at community meetings and vigils to honor the dead. The victims included a popular store owner slain at closing time, a community activist killed in a park and a British citizen whose throat was slit in Georgetown....

"Ten men, two women and a 16-year-old youth have been killed in the city since July 1. The most recent killing occurred at 1:25 a.m. yesterday in the 3600 block of 22nd Street SE, where Laquanda Johnson, 24, was found fatally shot. A suspect was arrested about 12 hours later in Suitland.

"Despite the recent uptick in violence, the number of people killed this year is the same as at this point in 2005: 94. But the number of robberies is up 14 percent, and Ramsey and other commanders are concerned that more holdups will turn deadly.

"'Robbery is a very dangerous crime,' Ramsey said. 'You are literally one movement away from it being a homicide.'

"Police have linked robbery and homicide in the slaying early Sunday of Alan Senitt, 27, a British citizen who was caught by surprise while walking a friend home along a tree-lined street in Georgetown. Senitt's throat was slashed and his friend was nearly raped, police said. Four suspects are in custody -- including a woman who allegedly drove the getaway car and a 15-year-old who authorities want to prosecute as an adult. Senitt had been working in Washington with a political action committee set up for former Virginia governor Mark R. Warner (D).

"Two of the suspects in Senitt's killing -- Christopher Piper, 25, and Jeffrey Rice, 22 -- had criminal records. Piper was paroled this year after a prison term for armed robbery and a drug charge. Rice was released in May after serving time for a drug offense and probation violation. Authorities said the two are suspects in at least two robberies that took place in Georgetown in the weeks before Senitt's attack...."
Adding to the trouble is a police officer's statement at a community gathering in Georgetown, a predominantly white neighborhood and the cushiest part of D.C.:
"The declaration [of the crime emergency] came on the same day that Ramsey transferred a police official who was accused of making a racially insensitive remark at a community meeting Monday night in Georgetown. Ramsey temporarily reassigned Inspector Andy Solberg, who urged residents to report suspicious activity....

"About 400 people crowded into a church in Georgetown on Monday night to discuss the Senitt killing. Solberg, the commander of the 2nd Police District, was addressing that forum when he made his remarks about race. Senitt was white, and the suspects in the case are black.

"When he made the comment, Solberg was telling the crowd to report suspicious-looking people to police when they see them in the neighborhood. He talked about the suspects in the Senitt killing and described one as a 'chubby, stocky guy' and one as a 15-year-old. He said at 2 a.m. they 'are going to stand out' in the area.

"'They were black,' Solberg said. 'This is not a racial thing to say that black people are unusual in Georgetown. This is a fact of life.'

"...In an interview after the meeting, he told WJLA-TV (Channel 7), 'What should be suspicious is three guys standing out on a street corner at 2 o'clock in the morning.'

"Ramsey said yesterday that Solberg is 'a good man, not a racist or anything like that.' Ramsey said...He reassigned Solberg to the police department's security services section pending the outcome of the investigation.

"Bill Starrells, a member of the Advisory Neighborhood Commission from Georgetown who was at the meeting, said he 'winced' when he heard the comment. 'Obviously it was out of place,' Starrells said. 'It was out of character for him. It was an unfortunate comment.'

"He said Solberg has done 'great work' in the 2nd Police District. Solberg, a 19-year veteran, took charge of the district in April.

"Other community activists in Georgetown and downtown said they were surprised that Solberg had been reassigned for the statement. Lowaunz Tascoe, a black shop owner who has lived in Georgetown for almost 40 years, said Solberg had merely stated the truth.

"'How come people don't know that? These people live in a box?' Tascoe said. 'It is highly, highly unusual to see three young black males roaming around up there in the residential neighborhoods.'

"Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner Leroy Thorpe said he suspects that Ramsey transferred Solberg to 'play it safe politically' and ease racial tensions over radically different outcomes in two high-profile weekend killings."
The weekend murders of two rather high-profile individuals led to the declaration of a crime emergency: Alan Senitt, who was white, and Chris Crowder, who was black. Alan Senitt's killing was the more recent, by a day or two; as mentioned above in the citation from the Washington Post, his throat was slit and his girlfriend sexually assaulted during a robbery in Georgetown. Chris Crowder was shot several times as he sat in his wheelchair near the Washington Convention Center; again, robbery appears to have been the motive. Arrests have been made in the case of Alan Senitt's killing, Crowder's murderers have not been apprehended.

Perhaps Inspector Solberg's words were problematic, particularly in a public meeting. But is now the time to be pursuing political correctness?

When the police and the locals hear about murders in particular areas of the District of Columbia, shoulders are shrugged. "Well, that's Southeast" or "Well, that's Northeast" are the comments made. But when violent crime comes to Northwest, the section of town which includes the National Mall and Georgetown, a crime emergency is declared. Coincidence?

Addendum from Courtland Milloy's column today:
"A new crime trend is unfolding in the District -- and some suburbs, too: an increase in armed robberies committed by thugs whose motivation appears to be less about getting money than inflicting pain. For even if you comply with demands to hand over your belongings, you are still likely to be assaulted, raped, kidnapped or killed. Much of this crime is being committed by adolescents.

"'So far this year, we've had a 95 percent increase in juveniles arrested for robberies, and it's not uncommon to have physical assaults in the process,' D.C. Police Chief Charles H. Ramsey told me. 'Young black males, in groups of five to six, ages 13 to 15, are displaying handguns and beating their victims.'

"Accompanying the increase in juvenile arrests for armed robbery has been an increase in juveniles arrested for carrying handguns -- a combination that Ramsey finds particularly disturbing. 'We're dealing with adolescents who have no remorse, no regrets,' he said. And they are well armed...."
Apparently, it is acceptable for Chief Ramsey to refer to "young black males" as criminals.


At 7/12/2006 8:41 AM, Blogger Ogre said...

You must be confused. There's no crime in D.C. -- all guns are banned. When you take away guns from law-abiding people, all crime ends. I know so because the Brady Handgun people and the media told me so.

At 7/12/2006 8:48 AM, Anonymous Seth said...

That's kinda' sorta' the age old story, LOL --

When people get blown away in the local shooting galleries, it often doesn't make the papers, but when it occurs in neighborhoods "of note", politicians start worrying about important campaign contributors from same.

At 7/12/2006 8:59 AM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

Sure, the gun-ban did a world of good in D.C.

Armed robberies on the National Mall seem to be the new trend. So far, all those robberies have occurred well after dark. Last December, the National Mall had such a spate of armed robberies, but they tapered off pretty quickly. The next round was in May. Now, July.

[W]hen it occurs in neighborhoods "of note", politicians start worrying about important campaign contributors from same.

Georgetown is, of course, an important part of D.C.'s tax base. The very thought of an exodus of that base scares the government.

At 7/12/2006 9:05 AM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

I have to wonder if the recent rise in D.C. robberies could be related to methamphetamine. Just recently, the over-the-counter drugs for making crystal meth have been locked up, and I think that July 1 marked a date for tigthtening down on those supplies.

Also, the renovation in Southeast might have driven undesirables to a different part of town.

There are no subway stops in Georgetown proper and inadequate bus transportation available in the residential portion of Georgetown. Even those many decades ago when the Metro subway was constructed, residents of Georgetown were wary of transporting criminals into the neighborhood. During the crack epidemic of the '80s and 90s, Georgetown congratulated itself on its wisdom about curtailing public transportation there.

At 7/12/2006 9:27 AM, Blogger Raven said...

Sounds a lot like Boston these days. The gun crimes have risen 10 fold here and Mayor Mumbles (Menino) has enacted similar rules. DC has always had a high crime rate right?

At 7/12/2006 9:45 AM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

DC has always had a high crime rate right?

Yes, in certain areas.

As far back as I can remember, Southeast has had major problems with crime, but that area got much worse with the crack-cocaine wars. Northeast wasn't bad in the last '40s, or so my mother used to tell me; the family chose a cemetery just across the Maryland line from Northeast D.C. to my uncle's burial in 1949. We would cut through town to reach my uncle's grave until the 1970s; after 1970, that area became so dangerous that we wouldn't even drive through it because a car-breakdown could be deadly, even in the daytime.

The 1968 riots in D.C. changed the tone of the entire city. Before 1968, we could drive into town and shop without any fear, except late at night.

Many businesses have fled what used to be the shopping district. A friend of ours had a coin shop in Northwest until 1983 or so; he fled for his life after the third hold-up in less than a month--the crack wars.

Until very recently, the National Mall and Georgetown were the safest sections. Now, I'm not so sure.

As far as I can tell, the police have nearly given up on Southeast. Just two years ago, I had to venture into Southeast late at night (Hubby had two flat tires during a microburst). The drug dealers were roaming openly, and the police were just driving on by. A few of those dealers extorted money from us as we were stranded on the curb. After much persuasion and what amounted to a bribe, we managed to get a tow truck to come to our rescue.

At 7/12/2006 9:59 AM, Blogger Brooke said...

" A few of those dealers extorted money from us as we were stranded on the curb. After much persuasion and what amounted to a bribe, we managed to get a tow truck to come to our rescue."

Good thing you weren't armed, AOW, or that could've escalated into violence! ;)

Seriously, the idea that such a comments by police are racist is laughable. I always get frustrated when the news announces that the police are looking for "a male, likely in his 20's, 5'10 with a tattoo on his left forearm."

Is he white, black, asian, hispanic.... C'mon? Is it more important to be PC than to give the public as detailed a description as possible?

At 7/12/2006 10:09 AM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

I strongly favor suspect-profiling (my term).

God was watching over us at the curb that night.

At 7/12/2006 10:30 PM, Blogger Mr. Beamish the Instablepundit said...

Of course the Brady bill can protect you from gun violence!

What, y'all aren't stuffing copies of it in your shirts before going out?

At 7/13/2006 12:12 AM, Blogger David Schantz said...

I posted a message about the Crime Emergency Declaration being issued too. Have any of the anti-gunners tried to explain how this could be happening in a gun free zone while the crime rate in Florida is at it's lowest level since 1971? I'm sure you all know the answer.

God Bless America, God Save The Republic.

At 7/13/2006 1:27 AM, Blogger MonicaR said...

Man. There goes my planned trip to Wash. DC with the girlies. I always figured the mall to be safe. I love to visit. Maybe when they get a concealed carry law - then I'll visit. ;-)

I think it's ridiculous that the officer who noted that it might be unusual for black teens to be hanging on the corner in Georgetown in the middle of the night was transferred. I'm getting very sick of this PC crap.

At 7/13/2006 6:30 AM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

Monica R,
The recent crimes have occurred late at night or in the wee hours of the morning. Daytime is relatively safe--particularly in the tourist areas.

If you're interested in coming to D.C., I can give you a local's tips. Of course, I can't guarantee your safety, but I can greatly minimize the risk--possibly even nullify it.

I'll be over to check out your posting.

At 7/13/2006 6:41 AM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

Mr. Beamish,
Shots ring out every night near the Washington Convention Center, according to yesterday's WaPo. The same is true in Southeast and Northeast.

A person without a felony record can carry a concealed firearm in D.C. and face only a misdemeanor charge.

At 7/13/2006 4:53 PM, Blogger Gayle said...

If I ever go to D.C. or any other large city, I will carry a handgun, whether it's legal or not. I'd rather be jailed for shooting someone attempting to kill me than to be legal and be dead!

At 7/13/2006 10:23 PM, Anonymous And Another Thing said...

I posted some comments on David Schantz's blog about this. I find it ironic that while in D.C. recently my family and I were subjected to everything short of body cavity searches every time we went to a museum. Yet, I could not legally carry my handgun in D.C. since it does not recognize ANY state's concealed carry permit.

When a crime is committed, you WANT to profile the suspects, else how can the citizenry help the police? I am not a fanatic on firearms, but you have to admit that this current story portrays law-abiding citizens in D.C. as sheep to the slaughter.

Good post!

At 7/13/2006 11:02 PM, Blogger MonicaR said...

Thank you AOW. We have taken the girls to DC a few times - we love it there. Previous to having kids I liked to go around my birthday which happens to be around the time the cherry blossoms are peaking. Love it. Normally we fly in and take the Metro right into - oh, somewhere that gets us right on the mall. Then we fly right out the same evening. We haven't been for 2 years though.

Unreal about the concealed carry being a misdemeanor for a law abiding citizen. Yikes.

At 7/14/2006 3:44 AM, Blogger Mr. Beamish the Instablepundit said...


If you use a large enough font, you can print the Brady Bill on enough pages to stop a 9mm round at 100 yards.

At 7/14/2006 7:33 AM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

Monica R,
Cherry-blossom time here is so beautiful! While the Tidal Basin has a unique setting, cherry blossoms are everywhere--even here in the suburbs.

National Airpost is especially convenient because of the Metro access. One can hop onto the subway and go directly to the National Mall.

It's been two years since you've visited? Time for another trip, huh?

At 7/14/2006 7:34 AM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

And Another Thing,

Most of the museums do extensive searches, but I've never figured out their method of "profiling." Of course, muggers don't much frequent the museums!

At 7/14/2006 7:35 AM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

I know a lot of people who feel the same way.

Because the carry-concealed permits are not recognized, many businesses have exited D.C.

At 7/14/2006 7:35 AM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

Mr. Beamish,
But the reams of paper!!!

At 7/14/2006 3:09 PM, Blogger Mr. Beamish the Instablepundit said...

But the reams of paper!!!

I know, I know. But it's the only way the Brady Bill can stop gun violence.


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