Posted on a tree Wednesday in my quiet Hill East neighborhood is a sign indicating the police will be cracking down on suspected drug dealers between the boundaries of East Capitol, 15th, 17th and Independence. Apparently, that means rounding up loitering slangers and telling them to disperse, then arresting them if they don’t.
This is a small area to target, and I live smack in the middle of it. Though there are occasional robberies on 15th Street, other than that there is very little crime save littering perpetrated here, though there’s enough of that to keep a clean-up crew busy full time. Just north of the targeted area, I have spotted possible drug dealers. On an alley off 17th Street to east, a bunch of teenagers like to chill out (as I once did) on couches, and occasionally shoot dice (which, in retrospect, I wish I did). There’s the fireworks too, but ’twas the season.
Suffice to say this area is not a drug hotspot. I would know — I am out in the neighborhood everyday greeting neighbors, very few of whom mean mug and say, “Would you like to buy some cocaine?” That’s not to say there aren’t drug dealers; there could be. But to pick an area I know so well as a safe place to concentrate on drug dealers strikes me as misguided. It also implies that outside of the dates of enforcement (Aug. 5-14) the area is the opposite of a drug-free zone. It’s not.
What bothers me most is the potential here to create tension between residents and police. I wrote weeks ago that I was impressed that cops were patrolling my alley — this behavior appears to have since stopped, replaced by DRIVING through the alley, which I deem wholly ineffective. Now comes what seems like an excuse to round up young men that are hanging out. I am all for police keeping the peace, but truly hope their power to disperse, fine and arrest individuals under this drug-free zone is not abused. I’ve got my eyes peeled.