Crime doesn't pay

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I just found out a friend of mine got shot three times in the stomach last night in my neighborhood during a mugging. He's in the hospital, possibly facing major surgery.

This seems like a terrible time to launch into a diatribe on gun control, so I'd appreciate it if no one in the comments did, no matter what side you're one--indeed, I'll delete the comment promptly if you do. But it seems like a very good time to launch into a diatribe on the low quality of DC policing. DC has a lot of cops, a lot of wealth, and no excuse for its extraordinarily high crime rate. I was born on 94th Street and Broadway at a time when the Upper West Side above 86th street was considered a no-go zone by the town's wealthier inhabitants. My father worked for the mayor during the blackout and associate crime wave, yet my mother has never felt as unsafe as she has since moving here.

Hell, I've lived in West Philadelphia during its 90s nadir. I've never felt as unsafe in a place as I do in DC. Almost everyone I know here has had some sort of personal contact with a criminal intent on robbing them, whether successfully or not. I'm lucky that I live near a well-lighted street--but frankly, the sheer menacing stupidity of a criminal who trails two people several blocks isn't reassuring, it's frightening. The fact that he thinks this tactic might work speaks to a certain lawless aura in the city. And I live in the safe part.

When DC does try to "do something", it's something stupid and quasi-fascist like locking down neighborhoods instead of putting more cops on the beat and using the advanced police tactics that are now the norm in every other city. From what I know, Fenty seems like a better mayor than DC's previous disasters, but the city government remains corrupt and incompetent. No one should have to spend their lives feeling this afraid.

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Megan McArdle is a columnist at Bloomberg View and a former senior editor at The Atlantic. Her new book is The Up Side of Down.

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