Examiner columnist Harry Jaffe is a bit obsessed with chronicling the yearly rise in crime over the summer. In the District, like virtually everywhere else in the country, crime goes up as temperatures rise and more people spend days and late nights on the streets.
Jaffe might have a bit more of a point this year than usual. In recent years, under former Mayor Adrian M. Fenty, the city’s Summer Youth Employment Program took all comers, giving paychecks and a modicum of daytime supervision to more than 20,000 city kids. The “Mayor’s Conservation Corps” swelled with kids tasked with little more than picking up trash on the streets — but who at least had some adult eyes on them. The come-one-come-all approach led to busted budgets and less-than-fulfilling job experiences.
This summer, many kids who want summer jobs won’t be getting them — perhaps 10,000 — because Mayor Vincent C. Gray has cut the unwieldy program to a more manageable 12,000.
But that means more kids will be unsupervised during the day. Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier addressed the politically sensitive matter on WAMU-FM’s Politics Hour this afternoon, on which civic watchdog Dorothy Brizill and I were also guests.
Lanier said that she’s meeting today with her command staff to kick off the department’s “summer of safety” effort. As usual, the police department is taking younger kids to Camp Ernest W. Brown in Southern Maryland, run jointly by the police department and the Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater Washington. Lanier mentioned other programs specifically targeting teens and girls, as well as a junior police academy program.
I asked Lanier whether she’s gotten a list of kids who applied for summer jobs but haven’t gotten them. Lanier said she hadn’t.
“More specifically for me, I rely on my school resource officers, who are very in touch with the kids they interact with in the school system every day, and I rely on my beat officers and my youth officers to help me identify the kids that are most in need of safe, supervised activities over the summer,” she said. “Those are the kids I want to reach out to, not just the kid that wants a summer job.”