Rebuilding Place in the Urban Space

"A community’s physical form, rather than its land uses, is its most intrinsic and enduring characteristic." [Katz, EPA] This blog focuses on place and placemaking and all that makes it work--historic preservation, urban design, transportation, asset-based community development, arts & cultural development, commercial district revitalization, tourism & destination development, and quality of life advocacy--along with doses of civic engagement and good governance watchdogging.

Monday, January 19, 2015

DC crime map link | a bit more on crime

D.C. Metropolitan Police Department
DC police car.  Flickr photo by Adam.

I wrote recently in "Crime Time Revisited" about the perception that crime has been increasing in DC, and how it isn't, at least compared to recent previous years and to the period of high crime in the late 1980s to the mid-1990s, when I first came to DC.

The DC Metropolitan Police Department has a crime mapping website.

Plugging in my address, year-to-year, crimes within 1500 feet of my address are down somewhat (theft and theft from auto are about the same), both violent crimes and property crimes.

But even in Petworth--featured as a zone of crime in the Washington Post article which I responded to in the CTR entry--while property crimes seem to have increased somewhat, depending on what address you plug in, violent crime is down.

2.  Urbanophile wrote a piece ("Why Policing?") stating that most urbanists ignore public safety issues.  I am happy to say that I have been writing about the issue for more than one decade, helped change the boundaries of the police service districts in my old H Street neighborhood, etc.

Although even I don't mention enough the reality that crime reduction as the flip side of the increased attraction of center city living.

3.  New York Review of Books has a piece, "The NY Police vs. the Mayor," on the virulent reaction of New York City police to calls for accountability.

In the comment thread on "Crime Time Revisited," charlie put it best, that the problem isn't "broken windows policing" but how to structure the activities of police officers, using broken windows techniques, when crime has dropped significantly.  For criticism of the method, and how "rule breaking" becomes criminalized see "'Broken Windows' and the New York City Police," also from the NYRB.

Richmond Police Chief Chris Magnus protests with William McCoy (left), Randy Joseph and Carole Johnson, with the City of Richmond Human Rights and Human Relations Commission. (Bay Area News Group/Kristopher Skinner)

4.  There was a television news story that featured the police chief from Richmond, California, a white guy named Chris Magnus, holding a "protest sign" stating that "Black Lives Matter."  (The police union, not to its credit, is whining about the chief participating in the protest.  See "Richmond union criticizes chief for wearing uniform to protest" from the San Francisco Chronicle.)

 Chief Magnus responded within the thread of the SFC article.  Here is an excerpt:
I have consistently been a proud supporter of our department and have stood behind our officers under many circumstances, including a number of occasions when public opinion was highly critical. That does not mean I subscribe to an “Us versus Them” approach to running the department or handling issues that are raised by the community. Let me be clear that interacting with community residents at a peaceful, local event does not equal support for the violence, rioting, or anti-police sentiment connected to similarly themed demonstrations in other places. I will say the same thing to you that I said to folks at the protest: I will consistently stand behind good policing and tough decisions that RPD officers make—but I will not defend misconduct, unjust treatment of the public, or poor service.
I think his comment, especially the last sentence, encapsulates my thoughts about dealing with police officers.  Many police officers argue that any act they perform is justified.  The reality is that isn't always true.  Accountability is necessary.

5.  The tv story mentioned that the crime rate in Richmond has dropped significantly since Chief Magnus came to the city.  But there isn't a consensus on why.  The police department argues it is in large part a response to new policing techniques.  Proponents of a non-standard approach to dealing with Richmond residents most likely to be involved in gun crimes argue they are responsible for the positive changes.

There are a couple pieces ("Did This City Bring Down Its Murder Rate by Paying People Not to Kill?," Mother Jones Magazine; "How One California City Began Bringing Its Murder Rate Down—Without Cops," The Nation) about the program, the city-funded Office of Neighborhood Safety, which provides small stipends, training, and other opportunities to people identified as highly at-risk. The program is operated completely independently of the police department.

Unlike the Community Safety Partnership in Los Angeles ("Los Angeles police department "Community Safety Partnership") which focuses on community improvement and crime reduction in specific public housing neighborhoods, the ONS program focuses on individuals.

From The Nation article:
Muccular and his co-workers at ONS tackle the problem of shootings and retaliatory murders with an approach that seems counterintuitive. While other cities are busy flooding high-crime areas with squads of armed police officers, who spend their days stopping, frisking and arresting young men for minor infractions, the ONS team seeks out high-risk Richmond residents—and offers them mentors and financial support. 
ONS defines high-risk as young men—as old as 25 and young as 13—who have likely been involved in previous homicides and shootings. The organization then asks them to sign up for an eighteen-month program called an Operation Peacemaker Fellowship. Over a year and a half, fellows develop and follow a “life map”—concrete steps they’ve laid out to build a different kind of life. In exchange for an agreement that they will put their guns down, ONS helps them reach those goals, with assistance that includes a monthly stipend of up to $500 in the final nine months of the program for fellows who are following through with their plans. They also connect fellows to job opportunities and social services.
Each program has been successful, although there haven't been significant evaluations yet of the Richmond ONS program.

6.  Seattle protesters campaigning against excessive use of force by police officers have created a website called Seattle Crimes, a take off of the title and web design of the local newspaper, the Seattle Times.

Today they distributed a parody newspaper front page (pictured at right, photo by Angel Herz) which they wrapped over copies of the regular newspaper.

Hopefully they'll add a pdf of the pages to their website.  (Ideally, they'd implement it in a fashion similar to how the ST puts up a pdf of the front page every day, in the right bottom corner of their webpage.)

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At 9:00 AM, Anonymous charlie said...

The ONS program is briliant.

Although the cash reward needs to be a bit higher.

In terms of property crime, strangely BWT doesn't work well to reduce it.

A lot of it design and mitigation. Package thefts, auto theft and bike thefts for instance. To her credit, Chief Lanier seems to be understanding of that.

The number of iphone thefts is way down after apple finally introduced the controls which allow remote wipe.

What we can't say out loud is that high levels of property crime are now tolerated in poor areas -- just as in the 1980s we tolerated high levels of violent crime.

It isnt' that difficult. I saw the police flooded the Cardozo area yesterday when the kids get out. Way too many fights breaking out.

You should be amused that someone is running againt Lynch in the NYPD BA election.


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