The problem: Teenagers working for the Summer Youth Employment Program of the District of Columbia have been mugged in years past on pay day.
The solution: Deploy the DC Fire & EMS Department to specific street corners as a deterrent.
For the past three weeks, firefighters have parked their trucks at locations across the District to deter criminals, said Paul Quander, deputy mayor of public safety and justice. Wednesday’s deployment coincided with the first payday for participants of the city’s Summer Youth Employment Program. In past years, youths in the program have been mugged on payday, city officials said.
“You don’t have to wear a badge and uniform and gun to have an impact on safety,” Quander said. “Public safety is not just the responsibility of the police department.”
Kristopher Baumann, head of the D.C. police union, criticized the effort as a “dangerous stopgap measure.”
“These guys are being asked to take on a law enforcement role with no training or coordination with the police,” Baumann said. “It’s like asking the police to start fighting fires.”
The story comes from an article by Freeman Klopott at The Examiner who reports, so far, has not been able to get the administration to comment:
"I just want to follow up with you about FEMS providing a presence at [high crime areas] and other focus areas to assist with SYEP payday safety," a legislative and policy analyst for the deputy mayor for public safety wrote in an e-mail to a fire department official on Tuesday. "I have Cc'ed MPD and DPOES for their input regarding which SYEP locations and [high crime areas] could use support from FEMS."
Fire union chief Ed Smith said he learned about the plan Wednesday morning as has already sent a series of inquiries to the administration officials.
"We're not trained for these matters," Smith said. "When we respond to violent crimes that involve medical emergencies we stage a block away until the police say its safe. We never get involved in police matters".
Union President Smith also issued the following press release this afternoon:
Metropolitan Police Department staffing is so low that District of Columbia Fire Chief Kenneth Ellerbe is forcing District of Columbia firefighters to be utilized in an effort to deter criminal activities.
Fire Chief Kenneth Ellerbe has ordered members of the DC Fire & EMS Department to assist in the protection of the Summer Youth Employees on Pay Day.
On Summer Youth Employment Pay Days, District Fire Fighters will be assigned to "take posts" in high crime areas to provide a "presence?"
A major concern, according to Ed Smith, President of the District Fire Fighters Union Local 36, "no one has defined what is meant by "presence" … and what is the role of the fire fighters when they witness a criminal act taking place?
Smith goes on, "I am concerned that this is a knee jerk reaction to what is serious problem that is clearly a police matter and not a fire department problem."
"Not only are my members not trained as police officers they are not properly equipped to handle police matters, yet could be called upon to become involved in various situations that place’s them in harm’s way! Smith is also concerned that posting firefighters in areas other than the strategically located fire station’s can potentially increase response times to fire and medical related emergencies.
Also on STATter911 …
- Facebook problems in the Nation’s Capital. Five DC firefighters taken off the street for comments about police. – May 14, 2013
- DC Update: Police union says no to Mayor Gray’s event because of fire chief’s White House flap. Councilmember wants IG to probe cadet harassment charge. – February 26, 2013
- DC police official sent email about ‘file burn’ day before records found on fire at fire department training academy. Fire & police unions trying to shed light on what’s behind document disposal. – May 24, 2012
- A most bizarre story from the Nation’s Capital: DC fire & police unions want investigation into personnel records dumped & burned at FD training academy. – May 23, 2012
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