The Politico’s Ben Smith Missed the Boat on Petworth Violence
AMENDMENT: City Paper's Ted Scheinman rightly points out that a serious crime occurred two hours before the All Hands on Deck effort was supposed to wrap up, and not two blocks from the MPD's Kennedy Street efforts: The burning of a car that may be a significant piece of evidence in the Chevy Chase murder. Whatever confidence the MPD's fliers inspired in Petworth residents has likely expired, although a case could be made that preventing car fires wasn't part of the plan.
The Politico's Ben Smith threw up the MPD's community outreach flier on his blog today, but made one huge mistake in his write-up:
The Washington, D.C. police department launched a new initiative with a familiar slogan today, hoping to bring the sense of national change to urban youth.
The "No Shots Fired" initatiative "encourages youth to have a peaceful gunfire-free weekend," according to the press release.
The "No Shots Fired" initiative began–and ended–this past weekend. And those fliers? They were handed out in Petworth on Friday and Saturday nights, at the MPD's questionable checkpoints on Kennedy Street (I have two at home, along with a sheet detailing recently-solved homicides, which MPD officers were handing out to drivers after they questioned them over unbuckled seatbelts and outstanding tickets). The press release for the initiative, part of phase IV of "All Hands on Deck," went out Friday afternoon.
Smith's view on the flier's Obama-esque "hopefulness" is also interesting:
There are all sorts of hopes about cultural pivots that Obama's election may produce; immediate effects on crime rates seems a particularly ... hopeful one.
I don't know how much time Smith spends in the economically down-trodden parts of DC, but I'd wager that he's not a Petworth regular. Invoking Obama in tandem with random searches and foot patrols of jumpy police recruits isn't likely to dissuade the targets of a ruthless drug war from doing what they have to do to survive.