Washington Post Article


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monsternav
July 10, 2004, 08:30 PM
WP Article (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A26460-2004Jul3.html)


Requires registration! I would tell you mine, but it is language not used on The High Road.

The three plainclothes police officers scoured city neighborhoods for people committing traffic violations or minor offenses. But this basic police work was actually a strategy with a bigger goal: to get guns off the streets.



They pulled over drivers of Toyotas and Cadillacs for having windows that were too darkly tinted. They stopped another motorist who had an improperly displayed license plate. But so far on this recent night, they had found no weapons. Then, three hours into their shift, the officers got a gun when they stopped a driver who was not wearing his seat belt on Georgia Avenue NW.

It was another success for the three officers, who work in the street crimes unit of the District's 3rd Police District. The team of 15 officers has seized more than 80 firearms this year, helping push the department's total gun seizures past 1,000.

If police continue seizing guns at the current pace, they will recover more firearms than in any year since 2000. They are about to get help from a strike force led by the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, which is targeting gun violence and distribution.

Handguns are illegal in the District, and D.C. Police Chief Charles H. Ramsey said seizing more firearms is one of his top priorities.

"We're getting more guns off the street, and that is a very good thing," Ramsey said. "It cuts down on the number of guns that are being used for violent acts. The more we can get off the street, the better off we are."

Although police said they are seizing a sizable number of guns, others question the department's effectiveness at removing them from the streets. The numbers -- D.C. police recovered 1,982 guns last year -- are down from those confiscated not so long ago. In 1996, police took in 2,950 guns. In the early 1990s, they seized 3,500 to 4,000 firearms a year.

Officials with the Fraternal Order of Police said the seizures dropped because Ramsey eliminated specialized gun squads after he took over the top job in 1998. "The chief hasn't taken this seriously," said Sgt. G.G. Neill, a union official and a former gun squad member.

Police officials countered that crime has decreased significantly since the early 1990s, resulting in fewer guns on the street. Ramsey said he wanted all of his officers, not just specialized units, to work at seizing guns.

"When I was an officer, there was nothing better than a gun pinch," Ramsey said. "Everybody's job is to get guns off the street."

In the 3rd District, the work often falls upon the street crimes unit, which usually does not respond to 911 calls and can devote more time to the effort. A bulletin board in the squad room highlights some of the unit's achievements with photographs of dozens of guns and suspects.

The unit's gun seizures mirror those in the rest of the city, where more than 75 percent of recovered firearms are handguns and most of those are semiautomatic pistols, according to police statistics. Most firearms sneak into the District from Maryland and Virginia, police said.

Citywide, police have seized five assault rifles, 568 pistols, 224 revolvers and an assortment of other firearms this year. One of the most shocking catches came Feb. 3, when police from the 7th District stopped a 14-year-old driving a car in Southeast Washington and turned up a submachine gun and semiautomatic handgun.

Despite a steady flow of illegal weapons from neighboring states, seizing firearms in Washington isn't easy and requires dozens of car stops and arrests for minor infractions, police officers said.

On the recent evening shift, officers Wayne David, Chris Petz and Miguel Correa piled into a marked squad car and roamed around their district, which includes Dupont Circle, Shaw and other areas.



"Little things lead to the big things," Petz said as the officers began their shift and drove away from the station. "A beer or car stop can lead to guns or drugs."

A few minutes after leaving the station, they spotted a Cadillac with windows that appeared to be too darkly tinted, so they pulled over the driver. In the District, car windows are required to allow a certain percentage of light through them, and some officers carry meters to determine whether a violation has occurred.

As they approached the Cadillac, the officers smelled marijuana wafting from the windows. But a search turned up nothing illegal, so they let the driver and passenger go with a warning to have the tint reduced.

For three hours, they continued to pull over motorists without making a catch -- until the officers noticed a Nissan on Georgia Avenue with a driver who was not wearing a seatbelt.

After stopping the driver, Correa smelled marijuana in the car and ordered the passenger onto the sidewalk. The man consented to a search. As Correa pulled a bandana out of the man's pocket, a small bag of what appeared to be marijuana fell to the street.

When Correa moved to handcuff the passenger, the man bolted, sprinting down the sidewalk. Officers tackled him.

As they led the passenger back to the car, David searched the Nissan and suddenly screamed the code word for gun. He told his colleagues he had spotted a pistol in the open pocket of a backpack.

The weapon was a .380 semiautomatic pistol that had a bullet in the chamber and seven others in the magazine. The 23-year-old passenger said the gun was his. The driver, a friend of his, knew nothing about it, the suspect told the officers.

Police let the driver go with a ticket for not wearing a seat belt. They arrested the passenger, charging him with carrying a pistol without a license and drug possession.

"You see," Petz said, "the small things lead you to the big things."

As they drove back to the district station with the gun in tow, the officers seemed almost giddy.

"This feels good," David said, smiling. "It feels good to get a weapon off the street."
:barf: :barf: :barf:

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Pilgrim
July 10, 2004, 10:12 PM
Tinted windshields and not wearing seatbelts constitute major street crimes in Washington, D.C.?

What kind of task force to they form to deal with robbery, grand theft, and auto theft?

Pilgrim

Justin
July 10, 2004, 10:19 PM
They are about to get help from a strike force led by the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, which is targeting gun violence and distribution. It seems like I've read something along these lines before...

:uhoh:

*cough* EFAD *cough*

Nightfall
July 10, 2004, 10:24 PM
All that effort, and for what? They'll catch a few crime guns. Many, if not most of them will probably be firearms just owned by regular citizens. They'll get a couple thousand guns... and crime will be the same. Gang bangers and various hoods will just buy whatever they want off the street, and the only people walking around scared of gun laws and those who enforce them will be the honest citizen.

DC took honors this year as the murder capital of the USA. I see their focus on guns is working real well. :rolleyes: They've been going after guns for years, with no drop in crime. Isn't it a sign of insanity when you repeat an action over and over, hoping for a different result again and again?

Standing Wolf
July 10, 2004, 10:56 PM
Little things lead to the big things...

Indeed, they do.

Highland Ranger
July 11, 2004, 12:14 AM
The more we can get off the street, the better off we are

Wonder if they realize that the ordinary citizen isn't included in the "we" or if they really think everyone is better off?

RWK
July 11, 2004, 08:43 AM
I live in Northern Virginia and can attest to DC’s incredible anti-firearms policies.

What I cannot understand is simple: at the same time ordinary citizens are denied self-protection, the city experiences a continuous series of serious crimes (most recently, gang-related shootings, with many innocents hit). It would seems logical for the DC government to want responsible, mature, proficient citizens to be armed, to counteract the abundant violent criminals who dominate certain areas of the city. After all, a carjacker or mugger is likely to become FAR more cautious when he understands he has a fair chance of being shot while threatening others.

Instead, DC tries traffic stops to eliminate firearms. That’s entirely futile – you can’t reinsert toothpaste into the tube, and you can’t stop criminals from having firearms – and it reinforces the felon’s certainty that law-abiding citizens are compelled to be victims in DC.

greyhound
July 11, 2004, 08:45 AM
Sometimes I think "guns off the street" is the official motto of law enforcement.

I dunno, I guess this makes those that think guns are some sort of magic talisman feel better....

JohnBT
July 11, 2004, 09:26 AM
"Many, if not most of them will probably be firearms just owned by regular citizens."

But regular citizens can't own handguns in D.C.(the exception being they were registered prior to 1978 IIRC and even then you can't ride around with them.)

So taking unlawfully possessed guns away from chronic drunks, drug dealers and 14-year-olds driving stolen cars is a bad thing?

John

jpIII
July 11, 2004, 09:59 AM
But this basic police work was actually a strategy with a bigger goal: to get guns off the streets.

As they approached the Cadillac, the officers smelled marijuana wafting from the windows.

After stopping the driver, Correa smelled marijuana in the car


It seems like this is more of a fishing expidition.....
I wonder how good the officer's nose was :scrutiny:

Mr. Kook
July 11, 2004, 11:53 AM
The searches sound a hell of a lot like an unconstitutional violation to me. There is nothing stopping them from claiming they smell marijuana on every car the pull over, and searching every car in the process. I wonder how these cops would feel if they had to get a rectal exam every time they drove two miles an hour over the limit, or ran a red light.

Felonious Monk
July 11, 2004, 01:37 PM
Most firearms sneak into the District from Maryland and Virginia, police said. CURSE those sneaky guns! Always scheming, always making nefarious plans... :rolleyes:

Nightfall
July 11, 2004, 01:39 PM
But regular citizens can't own handguns in D.C.
You're assuming that all of the regular citizens will follow that law. Self-defense incidents have brought to light the fact that there are normal folks who carry firearms for their protection, regardless of local laws. NY city has had several examples of this in recent times. DC is no different. Due to the natural tendency of us good guys to want to stay on the right side of the law, lots of people will go disarmed, and thus many of the guns recovered will be in the hands of ill-doers. However, plenty others will just be regular Joes and Janes who put their rights and their personal safety above nonsensical laws, whom would pass below the radar of LE but for going a few miles over a speed limit, or some other minor blip. And so...
So taking unlawfully possessed guns away from chronic drunks, drug dealers and 14-year-olds driving stolen cars is a bad thing?
No, not a bad thing. It's just that the article doesn't mention the otherwise fine citizens who get in serious trouble simply for having the means to defend themselves.

Gunsnrovers
July 11, 2004, 01:55 PM
It does cause you to think about the comments I frequently read in threads about gun control laws that cops not be willing to follow through with confiscation laws should it come to that.

Evidently in places where it has come to that, they are more then willing to follow through...

JohnBT
July 11, 2004, 05:38 PM
"However, plenty others will just be regular Joes and Janes who put their rights and their personal safety above nonsensical laws,..."

And those laws say they can't own handguns. Now you're agreeing with me?

John

Nightfall
July 11, 2004, 09:08 PM
And those laws say they can't own handguns.
And those laws, being unConstitutional and immoral, should be ignored/broken if one has the stomach to handle what happens if you're caught.

I'm not the brightest star in the sky, so I'm a bit confused. :) Are you trying to tell me that you think laws such as the 'no handguns or other firearms' ordeal in DC should be followed, and that having a gun in DC makes one a 'bad guy'? :confused:

Warren
July 11, 2004, 09:23 PM
Yet another reason to never step one foot into D.C.


What a freakin' cesspool.

BryanP
July 11, 2004, 09:33 PM
Tinted windshields and not wearing seatbelts constitute major street crimes in Washington, D.C.?

Dunno about D.C. but in a lot of places, including Tennessee, seatbelt laws have been elevated to "primary offense" meaning you can be pulled over solely for that.

Jim K
July 11, 2004, 10:01 PM
You misunderstand. No one wants to actually stop crime - crime is D.C.'s only growth industry. They just want to keep bad folks (spelled black) from having guns.

Even though the majority population of D.C. is black, and most D.C. cops are black, the gun laws were passed at the demand of the white liberal elite who really run the city and who turn pale at the idea that those _____
might actually have guns. It is the old plantation mentality all over again, with black folks once again duped into believing it is all for their own good.

If we can ever overcome the hatred drilled in over the years on both sides, black people will be our biggest allies.

Jim

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