News Bullets, yell at the clouds Friday;

Why try and 'beat' the other sites to being the first to put together a list of news stories. Waiting a bit lets me capture a few of those that might slip under the radar. If you try to always read this over coffee in the morning, my apologies. The weather is still awful, looks like fall has ended in DC and we are officially moving onto that wintery-mix of horrible weather that lasts until March.

Yes, you can tweet from your iPhones on the Metro. Expanded AT&T coverage was switched on today at a selection of Metrorail stations. Over the next two years service will be expanded to the rest of the system and within tunnels. In short tunnel lengths (e.g. Metro Center to Gallery Place and to Judiciary Square) you can get a signal in the tunnels. 3G appears to work fine, as well. Hold the praise for WMATA though, expanded cell service was a federal requirement as part of a funding bill. Thanks to @perkinsms for pointing that out this morning, along with the #rainonparade hashtag.

AG Peter Nickels considering taking checkpoints to the Supreme Court. Yesterday the U.S. Court of Appeals refused to hear the District's appeal about the legality of police checkpoints (ala Trinidad). Golly gee, I sure hope the District takes this one all the way up to the Court. What a waste of time. Hopefully the Court wouldn't even hear this case, which is ridiculous. Setting up roadblocks and asking people for ID to enter a neighborhood does not prevent crime and does violate the constitution. AG Nickels, don't you have better things to be doing, like unfairly blocking FOIA requests?

Vincent Gray for Mayor? Nice joke. At least for now. Mike DeBonis fools us via Twitter and CityDesk with a photo of a Gray for Mayor campaign sign. It's for a campaign in Lancaster, Pa. Will Gray run? At this point it's too early to tell, and honestly, I'm not that jazzed about the idea. I don't know who could run a campaign that would 1) have a chance against Fenty and 2) be someone worth supporting. Again, the big question, will someone run against Jim Graham?

WTOP gets in on the botched firefighting demo, way after everyone else. Yes, there's a scandal unfolding regarding Chief Rubin's handling of the mishap. I'm not so much interested in the actual story at this point, but more just saddened to see WTOP bother writing a story that includes the phrase "According to the Washington Post..." Jesus, guys, make a phone call or something, you're an actual news outlet! Do some reporting.


  1. I have some related experience with checkpoints. I lived in a neighborhood that was hit by a tornado. Looting was a problem in the hours after the storm, but within a day or so the National Guard moved in. They had checkpoints, which we found reassuring since you can't lock your front door if the front door isn't there.

    I agree that they should stop them in Trinidad if a majority of residents hate it and are willing to accept that without them the crime might (yes, might) continue unabated. Is there any data (not just for Trinidad) that checkpoints don't hinder crime? Because it certainly worked in my experience.

  2. Well, I think as an emergency response measure to prevent looting, it would work. And in some sense, if you did a military style checkpoint system, you might be able to prevent some crime. You'd need to stop people going out of the area as well, I suppose, as they might have just committed a crime. I understand this in disaster situations but it gets a bit complicated beyond that.

    The problems with the checkpoints as they stand are:

    1) Unless some sort of emergency has been declared, there are all sorts of issues with restricting travel in an area.

    2) People could come into the area through alternative ways (e.g. walking, taking a different street, etc)

    3) It's sort of just wrong.

    #3 is a bit of a stretch, I suppose, but it comes down to "there's a lot of things we could do to stop crime, but aren't allowed to do."

    If police could search every single house/apartment in Trinidad without probable cause or warrants, I'm sure we'd turn up all sorts of drugs and guns. It would probably be very helpful and we could arrest a ton of people and really cut down on crime. But, we can't do that.

    Effective or not, the Courts have said these checkpoints are illegal.

    Whoops, I was supposed to be taking a break from blogging.

  3. At the end of the day they are illegal. There exist legal methods for taking measures like this in emergencies. Like declaring martial law or an emergency, which requires more than Judge Dredd (I mean Peter Nickles) just saying so.

    marybindc's situation was obviously a temporary emergency. I'm sure she would not have appreciated it if the checkpoints continued indefinitely.

    Apart from that, anecdotal stories of how people were treated confirm our worst fears about this. People were profiled. One guy who was NOT black (e.g. like mixed-race) wrote somewhere that he was detained and hassled for a long period of time because the cops basically assumed he was going to buy drugs, presumably because of his race. In fact he was going home. Even though he voluntarily did what they asked they wouldn't let him pass until he threatened legal action.

    Of course if their efforts were legal, why would such a threat concern the cops?

    It's just bad, and the obvious (which Dave stated) is that anyone with something to hide who knows the area at all would just avoid them anyway.