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D.C.'s anti-gang strategy: Just rename them!

By Michelle Malkin  •  May 1, 2008 10:03 AM

You can’t have a gang problem if you don’t have gangs. Thus is the bloody Washington, D.C. gang infestation solved. Brilliant law enforcement and city officials there have simply renamed the gangs “crews.” No “gangs,” no problem!

Via the Washington Times (hat tip – reader Clem):

When is a gang not a gang? When it’s based in the District.

D.C. officials insist on describing groups of young males as “crews,” rather than gangs, even when they are held responsible for violent acts such as the wave of killings in the city last weekend. But police officials in other cities say the distinction is counterproductive.

“The very first step in dealing with gangs is denial,” said Capt. Charles Bloom of the Philadelphia Police Department. “Then you get to the point that you can’t deny it any more.”

D.C. police, lawmakers and community activists say the groups are not gangs because their members are mostly teens who band together for personal protection. That, they say, distinguished them from conventional gangs, which are created for a criminal enterprise such as drug dealing.

Capt. Bloom said Philadelphia quit trying to make such distinctions two years ago. Although they once described such bands as “loose groups,” they now use the term “gang-related” for any group that engages in criminal violence.

Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier acknowledged this week that crews appear to be connected to some of the 10 homicides in the past two weeks — including four this past weekend. And they are connected to hundreds of shots fired and a dozen shootings late last year in the Columbia Heights neighborhood in Northwest, officials say.

The only kind of policing the D.C. Police Department seems willing and able to do is policing language.

Be safe, D.C. denizens. We’ll pray for you.

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