Here it is the first sentence of our post and we’re already exhausted from wrestling with our inner punster. Must. Resist.
This is the chief’s fault! Takoma Park Police Chief Ronald Ricucci wants dogs! He wants not one, not two, not even three, but FOUR dogs. These are working police dogs, of course, dogs trained to sniff out drugs and people. The city had two dogs and retired one, which the chief wants to replace. He’s asked the council for a third dog, and wishes for a fourth.
How is he planning to pay for these dogs? With money expropriated from drug dealers, he says. Apparently crime does pay – the police. Police departments are allowed to seize money and assets from drug busts. Perhaps that explains why drug arrests have risen during the new chief’s tenure from 29 in 2007 to 112 in 2008 (so far). Most of these are for marijuana, said the chief, though many were for crack cocaine, too. The large increase in the number of busts does not necessarily represent an increase in drug use, but is due to a new police focus on it, he said.
Another funding source, said Riccicuo, will be the speed camera traps soon to be deployed. You may recall, Dear Reader, that these cameras are operated not by the police but by an independent consultant, and they split the take with the city (as opposed to sending it all to the state as is done with police-issued tickets)..
About less lucrative crimes, Kyleen Luy, Takoma Park Police Crime Analyst, made a detailed report to the council. Ms Luy is the one who sends out weekly crime report e-mails to neighborhood groups and individuals, and she had statistics gathered over the last few years.
She had good news -“Part I” crimes: homicide, rape, aggravated assault, robbery, larceny, and auto theft, have gradually declined over the last three years. She had bad news as well – theft from automobiles is on the upswing. Residents are urged to lock their cars and not leave valuables in them even when locked.
The charts and graphs presented by Ms Luy are available online if you wish to be your own crime analyst, Dear Reader. Go here and click on the “presentation” link under #6 on the Sept. 22 meeting agenda.
Your Gilbert is disappointed that certain dots were not connected and certain questions were not asked. Is the council really happy with our local Drug War escalation? Is everyone comfortable that the police are apparently placing a high priority on “profitable” crime?
We suppose it may be a good thing, and the council seemed to think so, that drug-sniffing dogs are funding the purchase of more drug-sniffing dogs, but are drugs the biggest crime problem in Takoma Park?
We’re fairly sure we heard the crime analyst say that theft from autos is increasing. But, we didn’t hear anyone say what we’re doing about it, and we didn’t hear any councilmember ask.
Which do we need most: more dogs for drug busts, cameras for speeding tickets, or a program to stop the theft-from-autos ? Could we spend the drug dealer-money on giant, car-shaped roach-motels? Or how about a dozen digital cameras to loan to citizens to train on their driveways at night?
We’d like to give the police and the chief the benefit of the doubt. After all we are viewing the police department through the small window of their presentations to the council, and just because they didn’t mention what they are doing about theft-from-autos, doesn’t mean they aren’t focusing on it. For all we know, the council is in on it too, each of them crouching in the darkened back seats of parked cars every night, tasers at hand.
In other council news, the city officially approved of giving a county liquor license to “Avenue Oven,” the restaurant moving into the old Taliano’s space at 70003 Carroll Ave.
The council voted to oppose “slots” – the referendum on the state’s November ballot which wold allow slot machine gambling.
Mayor Bruce Williams and councilmember Josh Wright announced that they recently met with representatives from EYA, the developers-in-waiting of the Takoma Metro station commons. Williams and Wright reported that EYA has made revisions to meet some of the city’s concerns, but they do “not solve all the issues,” according to Wright. The developer will make a presentation to the council in October or November.
Councilmember Terry Seamens reported that he is guardedly optimistic about the “broad-based vision” outlined by the Washington Adventist Hospital regarding their move. He says the WAH will leave behind resources that will take care of local emergency medical care needs. He wants to see more specifics, however, which he hopes will be shared with the community soon.