I appreciated Marc Fisher's June 1 Metro column, "Police Must Turn Their Frustration Into Fulfillment," and Del Quentin Wilber's Metro article of the same day "90 Minutes a Day That Shape Fight to Cut Crime."
In Petworth, the police department talks a good game, but the response has not begun to match the promises.
That said, over the Memorial Day weekend there was an extensive police presence throughout the southern part of Petworth after a 12-year-old girl was shot. Police cars drove through alleys, which the neighborhood asked for and had not seen in the months since a triple murder in January. Police foot patrols were out, which we had also asked for and had not seen since January.
For the first time in months, we did not have dirt bikes and off-road vehicles speeding down the streets and sidewalks.
I am worried that this will evaporate when the news cameras focus on some other crisis.
It was amazing to see the technology displayed in the photo with the story "90 Minutes a Day That Shape Fight to Cut Crime." I work in the 7th District, where patrol officers have three outdated computers on which to check e-mail and process arrests. The sergeants have six outdated computers, three of which do not work.
Looking at the photo, a person would believe that the entire department has state-of-the-art technology, but many of the processes used by the Metropolitan Police Department are from the 19th century. For example, we use log books to track attendance and the number of times an officer calls in sick. If those books turn up missing, we have no means of re-creating those records.
Those 90-minute meetings also represent a micromanagement approach to policing that takes commanders away from their districts. They cannot make a move without approval from downtown.
Add up the hours. At 8 a.m. commanders have a one-hour conference call, during which they discuss a lot of the numbers that are repeated at the 10 a.m. meeting. That meeting sometimes keeps commanders and unit leaders away for three hours. This occurs five days a week. That adds up to a lot of hours, and that does not take into account other meetings commanders and unit leaders must attend. And commanders spend time getting answers for the next day's meeting instead of planning strategy to combat crime or handling personnel issues.
DELROY A. BURTON
The writer is a sergeant with the Metropolitan Police Department.