Page 2 of 2   <      

Cropp Attacks Fenty's Stance on Crime Bill

In the poll, crime and violence were ranked as the city's biggest problems among 38 percent of voters. Among blacks surveyed, 43 percent ranked crime as the No. 1 problem. By focusing on her position on crime, Cropp is trying to strengthen her support. The poll found that 56 percent of those who said they will vote for Fenty support him "strongly." By contrast, nearly 60 percent of those in Cropp's column said they support her "somewhat."

District Police Chief Charles H. Ramsey declared a crime emergency July 11 after 13 homicides were committed in that month. Williams requested that the council return from summer recess to approve his emergency crime package, which the council endorsed after making some changes.

The final package authorized 300 new police officers, a 10 p.m. youth curfew and surveillance cameras in neighborhoods.

Cropp's brochure minces no words in playing up the drama.

The cover page shows a police officer looking for evidence under yellow police tape that reads "CRIME SCENE DO NOT ENTER." Above that, in red letters, are statistics: 12 killings in 11 days; a 35 percent increase in robberies; a 56 percent increase in assaults.

Under the picture is the tagline: "We need a Mayor who understands that this is an emergency."

The statistics that Cropp used came from the police page on the District government's Web site, her aides said.

According to that page, there were 39 assaults from July 16 to 22, up from 25 during the same week in 2005, an increase of 56 percent. In one category of robberies, the site lists 383 incidents from Jan. 1 through July 22, compared with 284 during the same period last year, an increase of 35 percent.

However, the statistics that Cropp offered stopped short of painting a complete picture of the city's crime problem.

For example, the police department released statistics yesterday that said there have been 2,376 robberies this year through yesterday, up 11 percent from the same time last year. Assaults with a deadly weapon increased 2 percent, and sexual assaults are up 16 percent this year compared with last year. There were 13 homicides in the first 11 days of July, although homicides are down 7 percent from the same time a year ago.

In the brochure, Cropp is pictured talking with three D.C. police officers, with the words "Linda is providing real solutions, not just rhetoric" underneath.

On the third page, Fenty is shown in a small headshot, along with a summary of his position on the crime bill.

"Can we trust Adrian Fenty to be a Mayor who protects us from crime?" the mailing asks in red letters.

Jack McKay, an advisory neighborhood commissioner in Mount Pleasant, said he agreed with Fenty that the crime package would have little impact and called Cropp's brochure a "shameful" attempt to use the issue for political advantage.

"I'm sure she knows that the crime problem is much more serious and difficult than simply throwing more officers onto the streets," McKay said.

"I was all set to vote for Cropp, but now this will just about push me to support Fenty."

But Kathy Chamberlain, a Cropp supporter who lives in Hillcrest, said Cropp is pursuing a good strategy to distinguish herself from Fenty.

"Crime is one of the biggest issues in Washington right now," Chamberlain said.

"I was incredulous Fenty voted against the crime bill. It was a no-brainer. He really had no other solution."


<       2

© 2006 The Washington Post Company