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September 29, 2010

Good Police Work

Dear Witnesses:

Richard Urban writes below about yesterday’s murder of Jamal Coates in a cinematically dramatic street gunfight. The Metropolitan Police Department arrested a suspect in that murder today, and Chief Cathy Lanier praised the good, swift work of the police. The arrest is certainly good news, and I don’t intend to denigrate the MPD’s work by noting that police were able to make the arrest so quickly and easily because an eyewitness described the getaway car to them and gave them its license plate number.

Most of the time, good police work in solving a crime doesn’t consist of making amazing deductive leaps like Sherlock Holmes, or of analyzing a single hair or drop of blood at the crime scene and matching it to a perpetrator’s identity, like the cast of CSI. Most of the time, good police work consists of receiving a tip from a witness or an informant and acting on it. For the police to receive that tip, however, two things are necessary. First, the public has to know and trust the police, and believe that the police can and will protect them from retaliation if they cooperate and enter into a partnership with them. Second, the public has to believe in the value of police work to society and want to cooperate with the police, rather than to believe cooperation makes them snitches or rats. For the police, having a witness approach them and give them information about a crime is both the result of doing good police work in the community and the start of doing good police work to solve crimes.

Good police work, by itself, doesn’t lower a city’s crime rate, but it’s an important element in lowering the crime rate and in making the city safe. A city in which crimes are readily and reliably solved and criminals are speedily and surely punished is safer than a city that lacks the basic elements of good policing.

Gary Imhoff


DC Must Tighten Penalties for Illegal Gun Possession
Richard Urban, independent candidate for DC council at-large,

Tuesday’s murder of Jamal Coates and the spate of murders and gun crimes over the last six months draws attention to the need to make illegal gun possession by a felon a crime that will bring a mandatory sentence. The Virginia Exile program provides a good model for DC to follow. The Virginia program imposes the following penalties (from

Just like our slogan states, “It’s Simple: You Do the Math!” Under Exile legislation, anyone faces a mandatory minimum sentence of five (5) years in a Virginia prison who:

Has a prior conviction for a violent felony such as murder, rape, robbery, felonious assault or certain types of burglary and is convicted of possessing a firearm; or

Is convicted of possessing a firearm within school property with the intent to use it, or displaying the weapon in a threatening manner; or

Is convicted of possessing a firearm and an illegal drug, such as cocaine or heroin, with the intent to distribute.

Anyone who is convicted of possessing a firearm and an illegal drug such as cocaine or heroin faces a mandatory minimum two (2) to five (5) years in a Virginia prison.

Additionally, anyone who possesses a firearm and has a prior conviction for a nonviolent felony such as larceny or drug possession will be exiled for two (2) years in addition to any other sentence imposed.

Under the chairmanship of my opponent, Phil Mendelson, the Committee on Public Safety and the Judiciary has failed to take action to send a message to criminals that illegal gun possession will not be tolerated. At the same time, DC makes it extremely difficult for a person to legally possess a gun. This approach makes no sense. Those committing crimes are not using legally registered weapons. DC residents should be allowed to own a weapon without excessively cumbersome registration requirements.


Silver Spring Fire Station Reopens as a Restaurant
Jerry A. McCoy, Silver Spring Historical Society,

See the story at


Robert Marshall,

I read Dr. Lomax’s second article ( after finding out about it through you [themail, September 22]. In it, he seems to have a better grasp of the issues than before. Dr. Lomax is a past president of Dillard University, my alma mater. I posted a comment about the article that you may find worth reading. In addition, because of your previous posting on Rhee, I did a bit of online research, including testimony that she gave in 2007 on education reform. It was all about resources and nothing about the children. There was no talk about teaching innovation, etc.

Having read biographical accounts about Rhee, I now understand why. She has little teaching experience and no specific education administration nor teaching credentials. Thank you for the information and insightful analysis that you have and continue to give regarding this important subject.


Robuchon’s Mashed Potatoes
Virginia Johnson,

In a recent issue of themail [September 29], Gary said, “We had Robuchon’s mashed potatoes for dinner. . . . Use more of the ingredients that taste good — butter, cream, salt, etc. — the good things that the superstitious nutrition naggers would forbid you to use at all.”

It’s no longer a rebel act to use natural ingredients like butter and cream. Has Gary not heard of Michael Pollan? Practically the only people who think that margarine is better for you than butter are the manufacturers of that artificial ingredient, the PR firms who represent them, and the publications and TV stations that sell them air time. Nonfat sucks!, and there is a big correlation between the prevalence of nonfat food items and the rise of obesity.

The nutrition naggers have moved on and are with you, supporting your efforts to eat natural food. Those who are not have not done the research.


Reply to Bryce Suderow
K.C. Kelly,

[Re: themail, September 26] It is regretful that you ran into rude teenagers on the 92 bus that were primarily black. I would invite you to look up similar incidents in communities were the majority of teenagers are of a different race. You will find the same type of activity. Teenagers are rude — what a novel concept!

Did you really think telling kids to “blow” you wouldn’t evoke a negative response? Why didn’t you take the lead of folks who make a social movement out of similar activity in the 1960’s, by responding with dignity — answering word for word. They were making fun of you, you say. And a vile response was appropriate from an adult to a minor?

And you blame African-Americans for playing race cards.


That Was Just Stupid
David F. Power,

Why did themail find it necessary or helpful to run Bryce Suderow’s screed [September 26] without editing? As a commenter to themail who has sent in my fair share of obscene rants, which were edited by themail, thus earning my everlasting gratitude, I feel I have the expertise to identify a stupid white person comment when I see it. There was no point in running the last two sentences of Suderow’s remarks. We can get what he was driving at without fomenting a race war.

It was just stupid because teenage student violence on the buses and Metro has nothing to do with the election result, as Suderow admitted himself with the phrase, “all of them [black riders] dread 3:00 p.m. when the kids get out of school.” As for the Republican Examiner and its race-baiting, nobody reads it anyway so who cares? But please let’s not have themail join in the stupid racism, please exercise at least some minimal editorial control.



Walking the Dog to Help the Homeless, October 2
Robin Diener,

Walk-a-dog-a-thon, sponsored by the Dupont Circle Citizens Association. Saturday, October 2, from 8:00 a.m. until 9:30 a.m., at the 17th Street Dog Park, between S and T Streets, NW. A blessing of the animals will be performed at St. Margaret’s for those who wish to participate. Matt Lang, Program Director of Charlie’s Place, will explain the work of Charlie’s Place and answer questions. Register right before the events. $25, or $15 for age 25 and under.


National Building Museum Events, October 2, 5
Johanna Weber,

October 2, 11:00 a.m.-12:30 p.m., Building a Century of Progress. The architecture of Chicago’s 1933–34 Century of Progress Exposition was captured in a thirty-minute color film. Watch the film, then hear Lisa Schrenk, author and associate professor of architecture and art history at Norwich University, discuss the architectural innovations introduced during the fair. This program is presented with support from the Art Deco Society of Washington, which is celebrating “Washington World’s Fair Weekend.” Film provided courtesy of Sharon Couzin and David Stark at the Art Institute of Chicago. $12 for members and students; $20 for nonmembers. Prepaid registration required. Walk-in registration based on availability.

October 5, 10:30 a.m.-12:00 p.m., Book of the Month: Lot at the End of My Block. Join us in the Building Zone for an exciting exploration of Kevin Lewis’s story Lot at the End of My Block, an adventure of revising an empty space for something fun! Readings at 10:30 and 11:30 a.m. Free drop-in program. Recommended for ages three to five. Both events at the National Building Museum, 401 F Street, NW, Judiciary Square Metro station. Register for events at


Taste of Dupont 2010, October 5
Paul K. Williams,

Create your own progressive dinner with $5 individual tasting tickets redeemed at any one of the twenty participating establishments, many of which will have specially priced cocktails or wines paired with your tasting. $5 for each individual tasting, or a five-tasting ticket package for just $20. Larger ticket packages also available for groups. Avoid the long lines; tickets purchased will be held at will call at the Dupont Resource Center at 9 Dupont Circle (west side, between P Street and Massachusetts Avenue). Tickets are also available for purchase at the Dupont Circle Resource Center Tuesday evening, October 5, beginning at 5:00 p.m. Tuesday, October 5, 2010 from 6-9 p.m.

For participating restaurants and to purchase tickets, visit


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