Crime doesn't pay

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.

Presented by

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.

What Happened to the Milky Way?

Light pollution has taken away our ability to see the stars. Can we still save the night sky?

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register with Disqus.

Please note that The Atlantic's account system is separate from our commenting system. To log in or register with The Atlantic, use the Sign In button at the top of every page.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

What Happened to the Milky Way?

Light pollution has taken away our ability to see the stars. Can we still save the night sky?

Video

The Faces of #BlackLivesMatter

Scenes from a recent protest in New York City

Video

Desegregated, Yet Unequal

A short documentary about the legacy of Boston busing

Video

Ruth Bader Ginsburg on Life

The Supreme Court justice talks gender equality and marriage.

Video

Social Media: The Video Game

What if the validation of your peers could "level up" your life?

Video

The Pentagon's $1.5 Trillion Mistake

The F-35 fighter jet was supposed to do everything. Instead, it can barely do anything.

More in Business

Just In