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Crime in D.C. has been a major issue in my life since some bastard broke into my car a few years back and stole everything I owned (I was here for one night and didn't think I'd need to unpack my whole car just to pack it up again the next day, admittedly a mistake).  

But the recent crime wave has rekindled some of my old emotions, and I decided that it was time to try and do something about it.  

I have always believed that one of the major problems in D.C. is that none of the cops actually walk a beat.  They just drive around in their cars with the lights flashing. I think it is too easy for people to commit crime because there is no tangible disincentive (like cops actually hanging out on the street) to doing so.  All these people have to do is watch out for the flashing lights, and they are free to do as they please.  I'm not sure if any of you read the police reports, but it's a guilty pleasure of mine.  And let me tell you, robberies, burglaries and assaults happen every day in every neighborhood in this city.

I wanted to find a way to pressure public officials in D.C. to put more cops on their feet instead of in their little bubble of a car.  So what did I do?  I made a website to collect petition signatures, with the goal of getting enough signatures to prove to the mayor, city council, and the police chief that there is something worthwhile here.

Let me be clear that our proposal does not look at the underlying societal issues that cause crime. These issues are important to look at, but we are more interested in immediate solutions to lower the crime rate. Once we have made D.C. safe by putting more cops on foot, then the deeper issues can be addressed. For now, we are concentrating on the more pressing short-term solution.

Our goal is simple: create a tangible disincentive to commit crime. If we can convince criminals and would-be criminals that committing a crime is not safe, they will be much less likely to do so. This is not about punishment for those committing crimes (though we agree that criminals should be held to account for their actions), it is about stopping crime before it happens.

Police cruisers in D.C. are required to have the clear lights on the front of their light bars activated. While we have been unable to find an explanation for why this is done and why it is supposed to be effective, we do know that it makes it very easy to spot a cop in D.C. Just look for the flashing lights. If we make cops less easy to spot from a mile away, and have their eyes, ears, and full concentration on the neighborhoods they are patrolling, we make it less easy to create crime. A police officer driving through a neighborhood has to focus on many other things, most apparently the other cars around them.

Putting cops on foot instead of in their cars not only allows them to focus more on our neighborhoods, but also puts them in constant contact with us -- the residents of these neighborhoods. Community policing should involve more interaction with our law enforcement -- allowing us to get to know them, and allowing them to get to know our neighborhoods. If you had a friend visiting D.C., would you show them the whole city in your car, not allowing them to get out and actually experience anything we have other than our roads? We wouldn't, because you can't get to know a city through a car window.

Putting cops on foot also keeps would-be criminals on their toes. Much of the crime in this city happens out in the open, and by use of force, weapons, or groups of people. Having cops walking the streets make it less likely that these crimes can be committed in such a brazen fashion, as they are able to not only see problems, but hear them as well.

Ultimately, we are asking that Mayor Williams, the City Council, and Police Chief Ramsey commit to either reallocating a substantial amount of the current police force to walk their beats instead of driving them or that new police officers are hired to fill the vacancy of street-walking beat cops in D.C.

Please add your name to our petition. We'd like to deliver these signatures to our elected leaders, so ask everyone you can to sign. If enough of us speak out, someone has to listen.

http://www.makedcsafe.com

I have launched this site on my own dollar, and I don't intend to use it to make money.  I simply want to live in a place where I don't have to fear walking home at night.

I don't care if you don't live in D.C.  This is a tourist town and it is in the best interest of anyone who ever plans on visiting this city to make it safer here.

Please sign our petition today and help D.C. move towards being a safer, friendlier, and ultimately better city.

Thanks!

Originally posted to Another Ex Kerry Staffer on Thu Jul 27, 2006 at 07:39 AM PDT.

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