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Cops grumble, but program gets results
(Published November 20, 2000)
By OSCAR ABEYTA
A crime prevention program started in the Metropolitan Police Department’s Sixth District has already begun to show results, but some within the department have criticized the program aimed at business owners.
Sixth District Commander Willie E. Dandridge sent a memo to his district’s captains Sept. 19 instructing them to form teams to perform security checks at business establishments to evaluate their lighting and security systems.
Police officers were also instructed to get prices from vendors for security improvements and provide these prices to the business establishments. Dandridge insists, though, that officers did not make any recommendations or steer business owners toward any particular vendors.
"We don’t make them pick a vendor or retailer or anything like that," Dandridge said. He also said that business owners were not required to implement the recommendations made by officers.
He acknowledged that there was some resistance to his preventative program from officers he commands. Dandridge attributed that resistance to some officers who don’t want to change how they do their jobs.
"We’re supposed to help the community," he said. "We are in the preventative business. A lot of people (in the department) fear change and just want to do their jobs the way they always have."
The Common Denominator received copies of Dandridge’s memos anonymously through the mail along with a note criticizing the appropriateness of police officers making security system recommendations.
Dandridge said he was well aware of the criticisms long before a reporter contacted him and defended his program as a proactive answer to a persistent crime problem.
He noted that before he instituted the business establishment security checks, burglaries were running about 7 percent higher than last year. But since his officers did the checks, burglaries are now about 7 percent less than last year’s levels.
Dandridge said he is planning other crime prevention programs in his district. In January his district will sponsor a crime prevention seminar for residents, which he hopes will feature vendors and insurance company representatives to educate people about crime prevention.
"We will provide the community with simple and inexpensive tips on preventative measures they can implement in their homes," he said.
Dandridge also said he hopes to re-establish Operation ID, which helps people engrave identification numbers on their personal belongings and valuables. He said he hopes to get that underway in December.