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Posted at 7:02 PM ET, 01/15/2010

Misplaced crime priorities in D.C.

By washingtonpost.com editors

By Jack McKay
Washington


The Jan. 13 editorial “Don’t stop now” said that the District “is experiencing a historic drop in the crime rate.” Not exactly. Robberies, the crimes of violence that most seriously threaten peaceful, minding-one’s-own-business residents, are up by 4 percent over 2008 and up by 22 percent over 2000. No one’s talking much about the fact that the number of robberies in the District hit a 12-year high in 2009.

Here in Mount Pleasant, there have been three robberies at gunpoint in the past three weeks, far above our norm. And no one here has forgotten Gregory C. Shipe, shot dead as he walked his dog on Irving Street one evening in 2005 in what is believed to be a case of a “robbery gone bad.”

Now The Post says we should address the District’s violent-crime problem by throwing people in jail for the nonviolent crimes of “drinking alcohol, gambling or urinating in public.” But such people are not the ones committing robberies, and jailing them will do nothing to reduce the rate of violent crime. The District does a poor job of solving robberies, with a case-closure rate of 17 percent, compared with a 21.5 percent average for medium-size cities. As long as that is the case and robberies continue to rise, police resources should be devoted to tracking down and jailing violent criminals, not people who are merely “public nuisances.”

The writer is a member of the Ward 1 Advisory Neighborhood Commission.

By washingtonpost.com editors  | January 15, 2010; 7:02 PM ET
Categories:  D.C., HotTopic, crime  
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Comments

Get more district residents to move to PG county and crime will drop even more.

Posted by: kenk3 | January 16, 2010 12:18 PM | Report abuse

NYC did have pretty good results doing the same thing.

Posted by: neilwied | January 16, 2010 6:52 PM | Report abuse

Focusing on robberies is potentially cost effective, since robbers tend to be highly serial: take out one robbery crew and you avert potentially dozens of future offenses.

Besides, most murders in DC are thugs killing thugs---the proverbial self-cleaning oven. Works well when police are hamstrung by the communities they are trying to protect in the 'stop snitching' era. DC might oughta try catalyzing homicides to generate a poignant reduction in robberies. Backdoor capital punishment in the "state" that has no death penalty. Much more efficient than our court system.

Either way, hunting down robbery crews and incarcerating juvenile offenders for significant time in robbery cases will go a long way toward protecting *innocent* victims of violent crime in the District.

Posted by: RealityCheckerInEffect | January 16, 2010 11:24 PM | Report abuse

Yeah, improve the crime-fighting stats by defining an ever broader range of self-regarding behaviors as "crimes"... that is like Bush's idea of inflating the stats for 'manufacturing jobs' created by his administration by re-defining the making of a MacDonald's hamburger as a "manufacturing job".

The way to fight crime isn't by dismantling our Constitutional rights by criminalizing harmless behavior - it is to look to the root causes of REAL crime (the kind that really harms other people) and to eliminate unemployment, poverty, and unwanted children who then grow up to become delinquent.

Posted by: djteryaki | January 20, 2010 2:25 PM | Report abuse

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