“If you hear sirens, it means we have failed to prevent the crime,” says Washington, D.C., police chief Cathy Lanier. “If we have to make an arrest, then we’ve failed.” Last year, D.C. police made about 48,000 arrests. Washington Post columnist Courtland Milloy says that after less than four years on the job, Lanier “is basking in the glow of being one of the city’s most effective, and popular, public officials.” Her homicide squad has the highest closure rate in three years and, so far this year, homicides are on track to drop below 100 for the first time in decades.
Lanier has expressed annoyance that some people question how a white woman can be police chief in a city where violent crime is dominated by black men. Milloy says she appears “to have overcome the burden of race and gender in a city frequently divided by both.” Says Lanier: “When I put on this uniform, I am not white, nor am I a woman. I am the po-lice.” Milloy says that some people worry that Lanier is turning the police force into something akin to a high-tech, military covert-ops unit. Taking her iPad and touching a special Google Earth icon on the screen, an aerial view of the Washington metropolitan area came into view, with the names of every neighborhood clearly labeled. She zoomed in to rooftop level and said, “I can take a camera from here and look up and down a street.”