January 15, 2006

Sunday Viewpoint

LOW CRIME IS NOT NO CRIME. In the past six months two people have been murdered on the streets in Washington DC who I have know personally. Though the declining murder rate in DC is something to take comfort in, let's not forget DC has a long way to go.

Thankfully, the Metropolitan Police Department has caught the credit-card killers of New York Times reporter David Rosenbaum, who DC Bubble stood along side with in the halls of Capitol building in the late 1980's waiting for Congress to make news. Also over the summer, Greg Shipe, who was a colleague at a public relations firm, was killed in Mount Pleasant.

Two totally random murders. These were not unfortunate souls involved in the drug trade, nor were they involved in vendettas of the street. Both were going about their business; minding their own business. The other night, for the first time in a long time, on my walk home I bypassed certain areas because it was late and I was unnerved. For no particular reason, DC Bubble felt unsafe on the street because of these killings.

Yet there is comfort to be found in the numbers: for the second year in row murders in DC fell below 200. DC has cut in half the number of murders from the heights of the drug wars, but as a percentage of total population the rate is still high. Very high when compared to New York City, which had only about 530 murders in 2005. Since New York has more than ten times the number of people and twice the killings, it is fair to say that the mean streets of New York are not so mean by comparison.

In Singapore years ago, there used to be (maybe there still are) placards saying "low crime is not no crime." The signs warned about the dangers and risks of chewing gum in public. As comical as the campaign was, DC Bubble is reminded of it now. 200 murders makes me feel safer, but not safe. Low crime is not no crime.

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