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Mendelson Seeks More Info on Safety Zones

Council member Phil Mendelson (D-At Large) wants police Chief Cathy L. Lanier to provide him with the special order that gave her the authority to establish the controversial Neighborhood Safety Zones that will kickoff this weekend in Trinidad.

Mendelson also wants the legal opinions from the office of Acting Attorney General Peter J. Nickles and tables showing the number of arrests and convictions in other zones created by the city to combat crime - drug free zones, prostitution free zones and gun free zones.

He outlined his requests in a letter to Lanier. He said the neighborhood safety zones and Council member Jim Graham's proposed "hot spot loitering zone" legislation are causing concern. A hearing was held on Graham's legislation Wednesday, and Mendelson is planning a hearing on the neighborhood safety zones.

"These issues have commonality in their questionable treatment of District residents' civil liberties," he said in the letter. "It is regrettable that the Executive chose yet again to not send a representative to the public hearing. Both the Committee members and public were denied an opportunity to discuss these serious issues in an open and transparent manner."

Here is the letter in its entirety.

By Nikita R Stewart  |  June 6, 2008; 1:08 PM ET
Categories:  Crime and Public Safety  
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Has anyone noticed that Phil has been a constant voice of reason on council? Has anyone noticed that he is unafraid to take Mr. Fenty to task? Why are our council members so complacent? The honeymoon is over. Tell the Mayor that having his family friend and lawyer serve as our General Counsel is unethical! I doubt that neither Fenty nor his parents nor Mr. Nickels gets that.

Posted by: dcchamp1 | June 6, 2008 3:04 PM | Report abuse

Phil Mendelson looks like Dr. Phil. That is your answer dcchamp1!

Posted by: Jonathan R. Rees | June 6, 2008 3:24 PM | Report abuse

Council member Mendelson has a history of slowing down crime fighting initiatives in the city by either holding legislation in his committee or, as in this case, attacking new strategies without offering an alternative plan. Residents of the Trinidad neighborhood have been supportive of the proposed check points, as reported yesterday in the Post, willing to give something new a chance in the face of rising violence. Council member Mendelson would better serve the community by moving stalled crime legislation out of his committee and to the council for a vote than offering criticism, instead of solutions, of proposed methods addressing violent crimes.

Posted by: John | June 6, 2008 3:35 PM | Report abuse

Councilmember Mendleson is not slowing down a crime fighting initiative. He may well be concerned that the Supreme Court has ruled traffic checkpoints established for the primary purpose to control crime are a violation of the Fourth Amendment. (See City of Indianapolis v. Edmunds- Decided: November 2000).

In essence, he is attempting to protect the civil liberties of the citizens of the District of Columbia. The Constitution of the United States is not a document that the Metropolitan Police Department has the leisure of follwing when it is convenient.

If you allow the police to use any means necessary to control crime, then why don't we just call in the National Guard, put a fence around the community and shoot any suspicious character on sight. You'll have peace, but at what cost?

Remember, George W. Bush used 9/11 has a vehicle to legislatively erode American civil liberties (i.e. U.S. Patriot Act, Homeland Security Act, etc). We have got to STOP allow "circumstances" rob us of our sensibilities.

It is NEVER ok to disregard the Constitution. Under NO circumstance.

Posted by: Concernedaboutdc | June 6, 2008 4:09 PM | Report abuse

City of Indianapolis v. Edmund

Case Date: 11/28/2000

On November 28, 2000, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that state and local governments may not set up roadblocks to catch drug offenders, despite plaintiff's brief filed on May 15, 2000, which supported the constitutionality of such roadblocks. In particular, the Court rejected plaintiff's contention that the roadblocks were lawful whether or not conducted for the purpose of criminal law enforcement; the Court concluded instead that the Constitution DID NOT permit suspicionless searches for the general purpose of crime control.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 6, 2008 4:12 PM | Report abuse

Considering the growth of DC crime and the growing acceptance of black-on-black crime in the black community, it might be a good idea to just have the National Guard take physical control of the city, except for federal government buildings and grounds. The Capitol Hill Police know well how to protect their areas and they do a pretty good job.

It's would be embarrassing to turn the District in to an armed camp, but the mostly black, mostly poor residents of the city need to be protected from the city's mostly black gangs.

While liberalism runs it course in the city's governance, the Mayor and Police Chief owe the residence of DC a safe place to live, and maybe even work, for those that have jobs.

Most of us out here in northern Virginia don't go to DC much anymore, mostly because of the high crime. But we are concerned that if the Mayor and Police Chief can't get control of the situation, the criminals will ride the Metro across the river. In Virginia, we have guns and we are allowed to protect ourselves however.

Most of us out here like the strategy that the Mayor and Police Chief are taking. They both seem to know what they are doing, both in fighting crime and in improving education of the city's mostly illiterate kids.

You may not see us from where you live in DC, but we northern Virginias are watching you from across the river.

Good luck!

Posted by: N. VA Observer of DC | June 8, 2008 6:11 PM | Report abuse

The "Discussion Guidelines" sure look like they were drafted by lawyers, but that's OK, because they at least put all this legal stuff in everyday English that us dummies can understand. Well done.

Posted by: Discussion Guidelines | June 8, 2008 6:16 PM | Report abuse

I noticed that Concernedaboutdc wrote: "The Constitution of the United States is not a document that the Metropolitan Police Department has the leisure of follwing when it is convenient."

That is just not true. The DC government violates the US Constitution all the time! Case in point: gun control.

Soon the US Supreme Court will rule on the constitutionality of the ban on guns in DC. We will just have to wait and see what they decide, but I can't image in my wildest dreams that they would agree with the current DC law on guns.

So, the DC practice of ignoring the Constitution is not new. Maybe that's why the Congress sees fit to provide DC with Congressional oversight.

Posted by: DC Needs Congressional Oversight | June 8, 2008 6:25 PM | Report abuse

For those that opt to remove all doubt about their ignorance by generalizing about "black" people, those people who happen to be VA residents, who suggest that they won't come into the District, my though? Well, fine, so be it. The train will keep moving, whether you think so or not.

For those Commonwealth of VA residents who have suggested that it is 'appropriate' for any government to usurp the constitutional rights any citizens, you should select another country to reside in, because you are alone on your oppressive mental island.

Congress may have soverign control over the District, however, they cannot arbitrarily respect the Constitutional rights of citizens. It is that document that prescribes what even THEY can and cannot do.

The issue at hand has been presented and ruled unconstitutional by the United States Supreme Court. Their holding is the law that supercedes any others, where these activities by the police across this nation is concerned. Nobody get's a free pass.

Posted by: concernedaboutdc | June 9, 2008 1:55 PM | Report abuse

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