Violent crime is up 13% in the nation’s capital since October, with overall crime rates rising 10%. The head of the police union is pinning blame on the Occupy D.C. movement, which he believes has drained resources away from the rest of the city to keep an eye on protests held in parks near the White House.
This came to light after the mayor of D.C., Vincent Gray, gave a television interview in which he said he wasn’t sure if the Occupy movement was making things worse on the streets of the District. Fraternal Order of Police Chairman Kristopher Baumann dashed off a letter to set Gray straight, as excerpted by the Heritage Foundation, which also posted the full 40-page text of the letter and its attachments:
As you are aware, on the date of your interview violent crime in the District was up by 13 percent and total crime was up by 10 percent since Occupy D.C. began on October 1, 2011, compared to the same time period the year before, according to the Metropolitan Police Department (Attachment 1). In addition, the increase in violent crime and all crime has accelerated as Occupy D.C. has continued.
On the date of your interview, violent crime over the past 30 days had increased by a stunning 17 percent and overall crime was up by 14 percent (Attachment 2). These numbers are year to date comparisons, so they account for the holiday spike in crime — this is a dramatic increase on top of the holiday spike. (I would note that the problem continues to worsen; as of December 26, 2011, violent crime over the past 30 days was up 21 percent and overall crime was up 18 percent, see Attachment 3.)
Baumann appeared on the local Fox News affiliate to elaborate further, noting that the Mayor’s ignorance (or deliberate obfuscation) of a double-digit spike in crime rates is troubling. Officers have been pulled from all over the District to manage the Occupy circus, leading to predictably increased carnage in under-patrolled rough neighborhoods.
Baumann also makes a provocative point that dumping the Occupy mess in his department’s lap amounts to an “unfunded federal mandate.” I gather he’s upset that additional resources for policing the Occupiers were not provided, although one might extend his point to consider semi-permanent disruptions of civic order as a threat to national security that should have been resolved sooner, rather than being indulged for months.
The Occupy camps were magnets for illegal activity, producing hundreds of attacks on people and property, ranging from robbery to rape and murder. Occupy organizers responded to all of these incidents by declaring them the work of “rogue elements” who had nothing to do with the movement. Even if you were inclined to accept that excuse, you’d still be left with the problem of camps that attracted swarms of “rogue elements,” draining police resources away from other areas. Police departments on tight budgets were faced with paying overtime to manage “demonstrations” that went on for weeks and months – which was precisely the point of “occupation” as a tactic, making it very different from an expression of free speech.
Strip away the politics, and you probably wouldn’t find too many police officers who didn’t expect both localized and general law-enforcement problems from permanent squatter camps.