[from February 2004 issue]


Readers this month will be struck with the unprecedented number of column inches devoted to our Selected Street Crimes feature--84 column inches this month (starting on page 5; available here by clicking on the homepage link for the back issues PDF file archive section)--as compared with the more usual 40, or so, column inches! What gives?

We can say with complete assurance that we did nothing differently this issue than we do every month; as customary, we scoured the daily crime reports for all the neighborhoods that we report news about, which means we look at the entire Third Police District and PSAs 10 through 14 in the Fourth District. And, we did our weeding out no differently than usual--eliminating the absolutely mind-boggling numbers of auto break-ins and actual thefts of auto, street altercations between acquaintances, prostitution, pick-pocketing, burglaries and other indoor crimes, including domestic violence. This mostly leaves the category of assaults and robberies that plague unsuspecting (and frequently too-trusting, naïve and un-alert) neighborhood residents and visitors who are being preyed upon by--and, let’s not mince words--total scum.

To repeat: We did not change our selection methodology for this issue’s reporting, yet the number of entries we show are clearly double anything we have previously entered--and this during one of the coldest periods in recent years when one would expect that crime would be low; after all, law enforcement officials are always worried about the “long, hot” summers, not the long, cold winters.

Our conclusion, then, is that, contrary to everything that the mayor would have us and the 100,000 new residents he hopes to have move into the city believe, crime is on a rampage. We have no other way to characterize it. When we finished editing the crime listings we were quite a nervous wreck as we realized just how incredibly dangerous it is out on those mean streets--and not just in the wee hours, but during the daytime and early and mid evening also. We even noted what seems to be an increase of working folk on their way to their jobs early in the morning getting mugged. And, it should be stressed that these crimes that we are writing about are happening in the so-called “nice” neighborhoods. This is important to keep in mind because it seems that policing strategy is directed at the overt drug crime areas, yet the smart scum know there’s great pickings out of the spotlight, as it were--but does the mayor know this? Probably not.

As we kept tapping the keys on our computer keyboard watching this litany of dread cross our screen we couldn’t help wondering, “Where were the cops?” Where are the beat officers that a few years ago were in fact roaming the neighborhood streets both on foot, bicycles and motor scooters? What good are the occasional speeding patrol cars with those blue lights crazily flashing when pedestrians are being stalked or jumped by vicious hoodlums who pull up in cars or dart out from alleyways? These scumbags know they can get away with it because there is now virtually no chance of a police officer anywhere within screaming distance.

The crime emergency that was declared late last year and recently lifted should have been continued because now it’s more than an emergency; it is a crisis of major proportion--notwithstanding all the denials that we are certain our comments will elicit from the mayor’s office. And, please don’t tell us that the cutting back on the number of PSAs, thereby making each considerably larger, will be the answer; that plan is nothing more than a re-arranging of the deck chairs on the Titanic, and, like the Titanic, we think the city is starting to sink.

What we believe must first be done to address this crisis is for the mayor to devote virtually full time and attention to public safety matters, to personally walk the streets and observe how bad things are all over--not just show up at high-profile anti-crime meetings following kids being gunned down in the schools or on the way home, but down in the trenches on a daily basis so that he can see how we are left unprotected except when there is a World Bank sort of demonstration or an Orange Alert for downtown. If the mayor was to be out on his own (which might be difficult, although we do see him shopping at Whole Foods Market near Logan Circle with only one or two security people hovering discretely out of the way and nobody accosts him), he would begin to understand why we are so adamant about this street crime crisis. Unless it is solved sooner than later, many of the gains made by the city in recent time will be undone to the detriment of everybody but the scum that will thrive even more than they are now thriving.