Wednesday, June 11



AMONG THE VEHICLES stopped by the DC police's East German style checkpoint in Trinidad was an ice cream truck. You just never know. . . REPORTS THE POST: Residents of the Trinidad area said that they would have preferred the police presence in the neighborhood without the checkpoint. Some said it was easy to circumvent police by using other streets. . . Council member Phil Mendelson (D-At Large) said he will hold a hearing Monday on how the checkpoints affect civil liberties. "Observing it reinforced my view it is not effective and reinforced my view it's harmful to police-community relations," he said. Lanier sent an e-mail within the department Sunday praising officers for their work and calling public criticism "unfortunate."

. . . Police in Baltimore, where there has been a 36 percent decrease in homicides and shootings this year, said they attribute that to targeting violent criminals and improving relationships with members of the community. "You lock up the baddest of the bad in part by working with people in the neighborhood," Baltimore police spokesman Sterling Clifford said. "You look to people in the neighborhood to tell you who they are and where they are."

DC EXAMINER Police officers were dispatched to D.C.'s controversial neighborhood checkpoints this weekend despite not having undergone constitutional training, The Examiner has learned. Mayor Adrian Fenty and his interim attorney general, Peter Nickles, emphasized a strict training regimen for officers when trying to sell their quarantine program to a wary public last week. But two 5th District police sources told The Examiner that within a day of launching the no-go zones, untrained officers were ordered to the barricades.

When the officers protested, their supervisor admitted that he hadn't been trained, either. He told them to re-christen the barricades "safety compliance checkpoints" in case anyone asked, three police sources told The Examiner. . . Lanier's fiat establishing the "Neighborhood Safety Zones" declares that "only those members who have successfully completed all NSZ-related training required by the Chief of Police may participate in the implementation of an NSZ." That training, the order continues, "shall include specific limitations on members' exercise of discretion in determining whether a vehicle will be permitted to enter the NSZ.". . . In separate letters to her officers and 5th District residents, Lanier lamented the criticism of her checkpoint strategy. She blamed a "small group" of naysayers. "It is unfortunate that some want to criticize the use of this tool when we are simply trying to reduce the opportunity for violent offenders to enter a neighborhood for the sole purpose of taking someone's life," she wrote.


DC EXAMINER When the FBI released preliminary 2007 statistics Monday showing that violent crime has decreased across the country, one major city was absent from the totals: Washington, D.C. D.C. police weren't able to supply the FBI with crime numbers because the department was still installing a new automated record-keeping system, spokeswoman Traci Hughes said. Police Chief Cathy Lanier ordered the new system last year after 11,000 police reports were left out of the 2006 crime totals reported to the FBI. When the FBI included the new statistics, the city's reported crime rate jumped from a 1 percent decrease to a 9 percent increase. The department could have met the FBI's deadline for the preliminary figures this year, but it wanted to make sure the numbers were correct, Hughes said. Their numbers will be in the FBI's final report in the fall, she added. . . Of the 50 most populated U.S. cities, D.C. was the only municipality that declined to submit crime totals. Kristopher Baumann, chair of the D.C. police union, said inaccurate statistics contribute to the city's crime problems. "We're running around throwing money and manpower in the wrong places at the wrong time," Baumann said.


COUNTERSIGNATURE Continuing her efforts to destroy public education in the District as quickly as possible, Chancellor Michelle Rhee has pulled the rug out from under students and teachers district-wide by cancelling the contract DCPS had with Teachers Institute to implement and provide continuous training for the Columbia University Reading and Writing Workshop.

Her ostensible reason is that the contract was not competitively bid and was not written up properly. Perhaps that's true, and Teachers Institute founder Sheila Ford seems like a bit of scoundrel -- OK, make that a full-fledged scoundrel -- by securing funding from DCPS for Teachers Institute before she resigned her DCPS principal's job, but the program itself is incredible. My son has had the opportunity to work with this program all year and I was extremely satisfied with the progress he made and the materials and methods used in the process.

One of the concepts behind the Columbia Reading and Writing Workshop is that teachers receive training in teaching reading and writing, and many DCPS teachers will tell you that previous to programs like this one, they have received little or no instructional training. Another concept behind the program is allowing students to move through "leveled libraries" as they progress in their abilities.

I won't be surprised to find in a month or two that Rhee has identified a new partner to continue the program, perhaps an organization headed up by one of her old cronies.

MAUREEN DINER, ROSS ELEMENTARY - Just yesterday principals were notified that one of the bright lights in DCPS curriculums, the Teachers Institute program, has been cancelled, with no clear explanation (as usual). Schools that have participated with the TI have seen the incredible benefits of the Teachers Institute readers and writers program.

Among schools that have watched children who have benefited from the TI are: Ross, Hyde, Janney, Hearst, Mann, and many others. One only needs to walk through the hallways at Ross and see the creative writing on the walls flourishing grade to grade, and note the upwardly mobile test scores. As a parent who recently transferred my older child to Oyster-Adams Middle School, where the program is not in place, it is evident to teachers that the tools provided through that program have given him a great advantage - he entered his new school feeling free to write as an author.

Schools that are on their way to success or already there should be able to maintain the autonomy and ability to make sound decisions that reflect their local school communities. Talented principals need to maintain the right to demand what is best for their continued success. The schools that benefit from this program should have a say. One size does not fit all, and the sooner the Chancellor and the DC Council are reminded they are accountable to the tax-paying citizens who have kept DC public schools alive for years the better off we'll be.


JD LAND The Exxon on the northwest corner of 11th and M [SW] will apparently be closing this week, having been sold. There's rumors of development of some sort planned for the site. This is the last gas station in [the area], joining the departed Exxon on South Capitol at I and K, the Sunoco at Half and M, and the BP Amoco at South Capitol and N.


CHRIS JOHNSON, BLADE Organizers for this year’s Capital Pride estimate about 40,000 visitors will descend on Washington for the annual parade and about 200,000 for the festival, which includes a few minor upgrades from last year’s event. The parade on June 14, slated to begin at 6:30 p.m. at P and 23rd streets. . . and will continue on P Street until 14th Street. Comedy writer Bruce Vilanch will serve as the parade’s grand marshal. Wendy Rieger, news anchor for NBC 4, will handle the announcements from the reviewing stand.




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