A "Crime Emergency"?

In an effort to curb a recent rash of auto thefts, D.C. Police Chief Charles H. Ramsey will announce a "crime emergency plan" tomorrow which will mean greater flexibility scheduling officers, and perhaps more undercover operations.

Police commanders said the emergency scheduling policy will allow them to conduct more undercover operations.

City officials said the changes are part of a broader initiative to combat juvenile car theft that Ramsey and Mayor Anthony A. Williams (D) will announce tonight at a community forum in Northeast Washington.

Last year, as the District battled a flare-up in crime, Ramsey declared a crime emergency and announced changes in scheduling policy that affected the entire force. Today's announcement comes as the city is on track this year to record the fewest homicides in nearly two decades, and crime overall is down about 12 percent.

High-ranking police officials said Ramsey wanted to jump on the auto theft problem before it got out of hand.

"This is a scaled-down version of last year," said a high-ranking police official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he did not want to preempt the mayor or Ramsey. "We don't want to get to the point where we start to lose momentum. We want to do everything we can to deal with this issue. ...
> W. Post: "Ramsey to Unveil Crime Emergency Plan"

Also, District activists are challenging the validity of signatures submitted supporting the casino plan (which Republican legislators said they would block even if it passed a referendum this fall). Here's what local activists with the organization DC Watch alleged in an email to subscribers:
"Going through the slots petition sheets simply as paper evidence, the fraud is so blatant and transparent that it can be funny. A single circulator claims to have gathered six hundred signatures in one day -- an average of one every minute in a ten-hour day, with no breaks. Anyone who has ever gathered petition signatures smiles at that one; it's better than running the one-minute mile. A circulator credited with a dozen petition sheets signs them in four different handwritings. A circulator is listed at two different addresses on sheets signed on the same day. On dozens of petitions, the original circulators' names and address have simply been crossed out, and different names and address have been substituted."
> See also W. Times: "Casino foes to contest petitions"


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