I agree with this article From Rebuilding Space that public safety is the number one priority facing DC. However, his thesis that “Broken Windows” policing is the solution is a stretch.
Social economists have disputed the effects of William Bratton and "Broken Windows" style policing. I have not had the time to look at all the data on NYC, or DC for that matter, but some feel that those neighborhoods that had the highest levels of crime in the 80s crack epidemic, were also the ones that saw reduce crime in the late 90s. Areas of a city cannot sustain a high level of crime. It ebbs and flows, like housing markets. Some even contend that crime rates would have been reduced regardless of policing strategy. But enough about NY, lets talk about DC.
o The murder in Georgetown last week could have been prevented if properly trained cops had followed the lead given by the theft victim.
o The police force has a limited number of personnel and financial resources.
o The communications system is broken. MPD is non-responsive, if not dismissive of calls to 311 or 911. See article in Washington City Paper.
o Many cops may be under-trained, burnt out, or hired under the Barry Administration that may not have properly vetted its officers.
o The DC court system is over-burdened and sentences rarely stick.
In order to utilize a broken windows model the PD and the courts must be ready and willing to ramp up efforts to arrest and convict many more people. Every graffiti artist, 14 year old kid beating up women on Randolph place, every person sipping 40ozers on NCap. Broken Windows is also notorious for reducing civil liberties and leading to some isolated police violence claims against NYPD.
I don’t think this is even remotely possible. Perhaps we should look at a real management shake-up.
Work to reduce corruption. Put in accounting systems to make sure gasoline, cruisers and other equipment is being misused.
Do a bottom-up personnel review, get rid of underachievers, and those who are no longer fit to police the city. Get good cops onto the street, and give commanders a squad that they can work with. Give them the tools they need to police. Keep cops in the neighborhoods, and spend more time community policing.
Finally, implement an effective, combined 911/311 dispatch system that will get the calls of victims to the beat cops. The citizens need to know that their calls are being answered. They need to know that the MPD is accountable, and they need to begin to have trust and respect for DC Cops.I completely agree with this point “In a majority minority city like DC, I think the political fallout of highly increased enforcement "against" African-Americans in particular would be significant, and no politician in the city would be willing to take such heat.” None of our mayoral candidates will take a stand on what they will do to police our city, without disenfranchising African-Americans. This is a town that has said that Tony Williams “isn’t black enough”. What would they do if there were a crime crackdown in predominantly black neighborhoods?