D.C. police will seal off entire neighborhoods, set up checkpoints and kick out strangers under a new program that D.C. officials hope will help them rescue the city from its out-of-control violence.
Under an executive order expected to be announced today, police Chief Cathy L. Lanier will have the authority to designate “Neighborhood Safety Zones.” At least six officers will man cordons around those zones and demand identification from people coming in and out of them. Anyone who doesn’t live there, work there or have “legitimate reason” to be there will be sent away or face arrest, documents obtained by The Examiner show.
(The Washington Post has a write-up on this story as well.)
If you think this is some belated April Fool's joke, it's not. The Office of Mayor Adrian Fenty released this press release today to address this so-called "public safety initiative".
The other bloggers have effectively covered the "slippery slope to a police state" angle of this story, so I'll let that be. I'm more concerned about precedent already set - how this plan will fail. See, the mayor, the police chief, and the interim attorney general have not done their due diligence. If they had, they would already know that once you've locked down an area from the rest of civilization, you can't unlock it. It becomes a haven for the very people you're trying to keep out. Then, before you know it, you'll have to go back into this boiling cauldron of evil to save the President, to retrieve the remote control for a super space weapon, or to find a cure for a devastating disease. And we just don't have people lying around in this city competent enough to pull off such stunts.
So please, people running this city, think of the President and shelf this idea.