Friday, September 04, 2009

availability of photos of those arrested & convicted

I was provided a copy of an Email from a Florida Avenue NW household to MPD Chief of Police Lanier regarding an interest to have the police have photos of those arrested and convicted readily available to the public.

Good suggestion? Poor public policy?

Florida Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20001
August 26, 2009

Cathy L. Lanier, Chief
Metropolitan Police Department
Government of the District of Columbia
300 Indiana Avenue NW
5th Floor
Washington, DC 20001

Dear Chief Lanier:

I live on Florida Avenue, NW in an area bordered by Bloomingdale, Shaw and the Truxton Circle neighborhoods. Although the building we live in has been in our family for over 30 years, we are fairly new to the neighborhood, having moved in after renovating the building. Renovation was difficult, expensive and frustrating due to the number of thefts and burglaries we suffered over a two-year period. Tools, compressors, fixtures, wiring and pipes (ripped from the walls) were taken. The renovations should have taken less than a year, but it seemed every time we took a step forward we would be forced to take a half step backwards because of the thefts and break-ins. As a result, I almost refused to move in, but did so at my husband's insistence (he convinced me that all the bars, cameras, lights, security system and our somewhat nasty Chesapeake retriever rendered the place relatively safe). Thus far, he has proven to be correct. While I believe the battle against crime here is slowly being won, the neighborhood is still very fragile and the war could be lost. The robbers, burglars, thieves, prostitutes, druggers and dealers are still amongst us. We see them wandering and hanging around our alleys and corners, and we suspect that they are up to no good, but we just don't have enough information to distinguish who are the bad guys (we have a lot of transients wandering around).

Our online newsletter put out by a fellow named Scott Roberts is wonderful. Among other newsworthy items, it lists all of the neighborhood crimes, arrestees and the convicted. Unfortunately, we can't put faces with the reports. One of our burglars was caught, convicted, sentenced, ordered to pay restitution, paroled, and we don't even know what he looks like. He could be sitting on my front stoop casing my house and I wouldn't know him.

It is my belief that peer (or neighborhood) disapproval is a strong deterrent (ergo the stocks and pillories of colonial times). For some unbeknown reason, our criminal elements walk the streets in total anonymity. I believe the public has a right to know who is being arrested and convicted of crimes in their neighborhoods, and especially who to watch out for. While I am aware that we have to be sensitive to the rights of the accused, I also know that in reality most of the accused have long criminal records and publishing names and photographs would have little or no character impact. In any event, we already get the names. If we put a face on it, the information becomes useful.

I have enclosed the front page of a newspaper from a nearby jurisdiction. While I believe that this is extreme journalism, I also know that when you get arrested in St. Mary's County, everybody knows it. This is a great incentive to stay clear of law violations.

My husband and I are not right wing conservatives. One of us is African-American the other is Caucasian. We are strong believers in the Bill of Rights for all individuals. We believe that this includes us and our neighbors. Thank you for giving our request whatever consideration you can.



  1. I totally agree and support your request... Except I dont think not being a rightwing conservative or being African American have any relevance.

  2. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  3. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  4. Blog administrator here: I have deleted two posts.

    Please review:

    Here is an initial set of guidelines for commenting on posts here at the Bloomingdale Neighborhood blog:

    1) Identify yourself. A full name would be best, but at least include a first name.

    2) Identify your neighborhood.

    3) Totally anonymous posts will not be allowed and be deleted, regardless of the content of the comment.

  5. I agree with Ajai being african american or caucasian doesnt make a big difference but I do feel that the community coming together to help reduce the levels of crime in the commmunity will. I am a student in the area that lived in the bloomingdale area and now I live on north capitol right across the street in eckington respectively. My friends have even faced burgulary while everyone was in the house during a birthday bbq this summer in the Bloomingdale area.

    I feel that the list could help us identify who might be committing the crimes but it might also lead to profiling particular persons improperly. Also, the nice neighbor next door might have a long criminal record in the past that might cause other neighbors to have a different perception of him or her. While I do feel that it can help identify the criminal to the crime which helps out in many situations it is also a double edge sword.

  6. Poor idea. Once people have paid their debt to society, they shouldn't still have to worry about their photos floating around on the Internet.

  7. It would help to have pictures or artist sketches because Blk male 5'11" 30 years old med build could be anyone and also accuses all black males of that description. Which is wrong.
    It doesn't need to be a stand alone jpg but a PDF would be something.

    -Mari/ Truxton

  8. I think if someone has been convicted of a crime and has served their penalty, I don't think they should have to worry about being identified as a criminal.

    However, maybe if people were still completing their sentence (i.e. community service or if they're on parole) it could be part of their sentence to have neighbors alerted. Shame could be a powerful deterrent.

    It's a very dicey issue.