Washington, D.C., Police Chief Cathy Lanier is defending her strategies for confronting the city's escalating violence, rejecting accusations by the officers' labor union that her policies have stymied the policing needed to effectively fight crime, the Washington Post reports. Appearing at a community center in Shaw, a neighborhood hit hard by gunfire, Lanier upped the bounty for reporting illegal firearms, more than doubling the reward for a tip leading to a gun to $2,500. A tip leading to a conviction in a gun crime remains at $10,000. The chief blamed the 35 percent surge in deadly shootings, including three within five hours on Tuesday afternoon, on a deluge of firearms, repeat violent offenders and petty disputes. Lanier listed motives behind some of this year's fatal shootings: losses at dice games, a crying baby and thrown rocks.
The union says that the number of shootings escalated earlier this year when Lanier dismantled local drug units that had been used to target street dealers. “The open-air drug markets are flourishing,” the union said, “spurring unchecked violence between the factions fighting for control over the drugs, guns and money.” Lanier moved the drug squads under one central command to combat large-scale narcotic organizations instead of the corner drug markets that she said have largely disappeared. She is focusing on large, sophisticated drug organizations that use the Internet and other means to sell. The new squad, she said, is “the only way we're going to be effective in dismantling drug organizations of today.” Yesterday, Washington's homicide count climbed to 98, nearing the 105 total for all of last year.