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DC Institutes Police Checkpoints to Combat Bad 'Hoods

DC Institutes Police Checkpoints to Combat Bad 'Hoods

Where's the line between keeping people safe and a police state? In Washington DC the line just got a lot finer. They're implementing a new plan to seal off entire troubled neighborhoods and establish security checkpoints to monitor who comes and goes and why.

They're calling them "Neighborhood Safety Zones" and will require those entering the area to prove that they work there or have “legitimate reason” to be there — or they'll be sent away or face arrest. The zones are a last ditch effort to quarantine areas thought responsible for the spiraling crime rate plaguing the city.

Police Chief Cathy Lanier has been implementing out of the ordinary programs hoping to reverse the mayhem, but has had to scale back some — like plans for warrantless door-to-door searches for guns and drugs, and "All Hands on Deck" weekends aimed to bump up police presence. To see who's against the move,


Lanier says the "no go zones" have worked in other cities and she's not worried about the Constitutionality of the measure. However the President of the DC ACLU says the plan is "cockamamie" and elaborates

I think they tried this in Russia and it failed,” she said. “It’s just our experience in this city that we always end up targeting poor people and people of color, and we treat the kids coming home from choir practice the same as we treat those kids who are selling drugs.

Is this a creative way to turn around a crime-addled city — or a dangerous move that kills freedom?


Join The Conversation
javsmav javsmav 9 years
I realize PG County is large & I didn't mean to say it's a bad place--I was merely trying to say that by focusing on making ONE area of a city (or county) safe without dealing with the real issues just forces the crime to go elsewhere and unfortunately that happens to be the county next door....unless you are denying that crime has increased in PG County in the last decade? I could be wrong and apologize if misstated the facts. Regardless, it's not a reflection on you. I know many people who live in PG County & none of them are criminals. And I'm sure your neighborhood is much safer than mine...although, I would totally be freaked out by a fox!
raciccarone raciccarone 9 years
I've pooped on a million lawns. Who the hell cares? It's biodegradable and it's good for the grass. Sure it smells, but once it hardens the stench dies down. People, please, it's not a big deal.
liliblu liliblu 9 years
People really need to understand that in DC that quiet/safe and crime ridden can be a matter of a few blocks. Just take SE, DC. There are areas in SE that I would never venture into. Then there are areas with tree lined streets and well maintained homes, with friendly neighbors. Capitol Hill, and Hillcrest are in SE, and both have wonderful places to live. What the city needs right now are more cops on the streets.
popgoestheworld popgoestheworld 9 years
megnmac, strangely enough, this trial zone is in North East DC. The crimes are apparently happening in a small enough section that all the criminals aren't actually living there. I do agree that perhaps this wouldn't be good for South East. I'm no expert in constitutional law so I am not going to say if it's against the constitution or not. However, let's just assume it's not for a second. They are trying this for 5 days. It's not costing shitloads of money. I say kudos for trying something a little different. If it doesn't work, then it's back to the same old. If it is unconstitutional, well, that's a different story.
liliblu liliblu 9 years
D.C. schools have been in trouble for a long time. There are good schools, but they far surpassed by the troubled ones. Better schools, more after school programs, and more adult training. All things that are hard to come by when the economies bad. When Chief Lanier took over she completely reorganized the police force in DC. I wonder if this had an impact on how officers were able to do their jobs.
megnmac megnmac 9 years
liliblu - I'm sorry for my usual sweeping statements (not here, just in general) about PG county being terrifying, it does have diverse areas. All I ever think of when I think of PG cty is when my friend had a shooting in her parking lot right by her room... but there are nicer places too.
megnmac megnmac 9 years
Um, isn't most crime within the community? No one is trying to break into Anacostia (DC povery/crime area) to commit those crimes, they are already there. And I swear, in my 3 years in DC the only time I went across the river to southeast on purpose was because the guy at Papa Johns said he wouldn't deliver the pizza and my husband thought we should just go get it (comped, he loves things that are free). It tastes amazing when you have to get it through 3" bulletproof glass. Sorry, back on point, what exactly does this measure do?? What could it possibly really prevent? Is it just a way (like illegal immagrant checkpoints) to document people we think are criminals and pick up suspicious ppl long enough to see if they have warrants? I'm with the ppl pointing out the solution isn't police state, but aid to help get desperate people out of desperate situations (be that aid govt or private, depending on your political beliefs)... these are ingrained problems that checkpoints are not going to fix.
liliblu liliblu 9 years
javsmav stated, "Also, IIRC, the reason behind the recent drop in DC's murder rate was gentrification coming in & criminals moving out to Prince George's County, MD. PG Co is almost as bad as Baltimore now." I live in Prince George's County and I hate when people make statements like that. Do you know how large PG County is? The county is about 500 sq miles and has a population of about 850,000 people. Unlike some other counties in MD PG is diverse. You'll find everything from subsidized housing to million dollar homes. The scariest thing I've seen in my neighborhood is a fox. Crime happens and there are some neighborhoods that have been hit hard. But, don't label an entire county as crime ridden. Sorry, but that just rubbed me the wrong way.
Roarman Roarman 9 years
They should leave it up to the people who live in the neighborhood. Have a community discussion where ideas can be tossed around. We can cry about civil liberties being violated, but many people who have to leave there homes in fear or keeps their children in the house may not have a huge problem with the proposal.
lula29 lula29 9 years
Until they apply economic solutions that drive down crime in such areas, nothing is going to change. The drug trade is raging on the border of the U.S. and big cities, are big drug markets, hence the spike in crime when the economy tanks. The drug trade is always hiring and you don't need much skill to get a job doing it. I'm disappointed in the media for not focusing on the increase in crime in urban areas (and even smaller cities like the one I grew up in). They are calling Philadelphia, Killadelphia these days because of the sharp increase in crime. Gated off the community isn't going to solve the problem and we need to create a national dialogue to actually figure out real solutions to reduce such crime, instead of allowing for another band-aid.
j2e1n9 j2e1n9 9 years
Er, 'tis a joke javsmav. Lighten up.
javsmav javsmav 9 years
wow, that's rough. Someone pooped in your lawn? That really puts things in to perspective for those DC residents who had someone die in their front lawn--at least they didn't have to clean the body up! There are so many problems with DC I don't know where to begin, but I do not see this being a short-term or long-term solution. It's effectiveness is questionable (people can't lie? walk into the neighborhood? shoot someone in the next neighborhood?) and it does nothing to prevent future criminals. If anything it increases the us vs. them mentality, which I can't imagine is a healthy environment to grow up in. Also, IIRC, the reason behind the recent drop in DC's murder rate was gentrification coming in & criminals moving out to Prince George's County, MD. PG Co is almost as bad as Baltimore now.
stephley stephley 9 years
Do this in your neighborhood, and understand the police and politicians decide when it ends - not you and your neighbors.
j2e1n9 j2e1n9 9 years
I wouldnt mind this in my neighborhood at all :shrug: It probably wouldve stopped that homeless man from pooping in my front yard in broad daylight last month. We were left to clean up his mess :(
bellaressa bellaressa 9 years
I agree with Bella and Step. I would not want this in my neighborhood. I think it lives with educating and or training young people. Give them something to do and they won't have time to hang on the corners or sell drugs.
stephley stephley 9 years
DC led the nation in homicides in the 90s but crime had been on the decline in recent years - I imagine the economy has something to do with things jumping again. Improvements in the city almost always go to the wealthy areas and the poor neighborhoods just keep rotting away. This kind of policing just puts more of a burden on the courts instead of doing anything to actually make things better. When I left there, the court system was actually responsible for 67,000 school aged kids - social workers had to ask the court's permission to buy school supplies & the like. If the children aren't educated well enough to get decent jobs - not just the lowest paying government jobs available - the cops will be permanent neighborhood babysitters and the courts will function as absentee parents.
Beauty Beauty 9 years
I'm not OK with this idea. If this plan were being applied to your neighborhood, would you like it? I certainly wouldn't. I agree with Nicachica: More cops, more money put into summer camp/after-school programs. And yeah, it's going to cost a lot of money. But setting up checkpoints is terrible.
nicachica nicachica 9 years
i agree with Pop. I'm not totally comfortable with this idea but it has been HORRIBLE lately in DC. However, i think that it should be a two-pronged approach. First, have more police presence in high-crime areas (check!) and second, work with the community to encourage kids to do other things such as get internships and summer jobs so that they do more positive things with their lives. Younger kids should go to day camp and older kids should get job training or help with school. Will that cost money? Yes, but it will do SO MUCH to improve conditions in these communities. Too bad the DC govt is too focused on approving the next multi-million dollar condo project instead of providing kids with opportunities so they can have better futures! The disparity between rich and poor in DC is WAY TOO HIGH!
raciccarone raciccarone 9 years
It worked really well in Warsaw, Manzinar, and South Africa. I say it's high time we tried it again today!
yesteryear yesteryear 9 years
lets hope that doesn't really happen.
bellaressa bellaressa 9 years
YY your statement reminds me of the Women of Brewster's Place and how the city built a wall around their neighborhood and how the neighborhood was really contained within the wall. Interesting statement.
yesteryear yesteryear 9 years
a wall is next.
Marni7 Marni7 9 years
I am torn about one part I feel that it is a positive thing but in the other I agree with steph, it will just reinforce an us against them mentality..and I disagree with the statement if ur innocent you have nothing to worry about..i grew up in the south bronx and my family is still there and i witnessed plenty of violent situations where the innocent were condemned while the cops look away. this plan is also riding on the assumption that 100% of cops out there are not corrupt..
cine_lover cine_lover 9 years
Yeah, 3M! Get with the program. Work shurk.
stiletta stiletta 9 years
If you're innocent, you have no reason to worry, that's my motto.
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