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Lanier: 'Halloween is a very dangerous night'

Thursday - 11/3/2011, 3:55pm  ET

Lanier512.jpg
(WTOP/Paul D. Shinkman)

Ask the Chief

Police Chief Cathy Lanier speaks with WTOP's Mark Segraves

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WASHINGTON -- D.C. Police Chief Cathy Lanier was a guest Thursday on WTOP's "Ask the Chief" program with Mark Segraves.

It appears the chief will be around for many more WTOP shows. While she hasn't yet secured a new job contract -- up for renewal in April 2012 -- she says she enjoys her job and has "a lot of common ground" with Mayor Vince Gray on law enforcement.

"I don't see any reason to leave," she says.

The chief also addressed the new policy of issuing citations to drivers who "block the box," causing rush hour gridlock. Officers have issued 1,654 tickets so far, says Lanier, who says she has received comments asking why police don't issue more citations.

One of the easiest ways to catch auto thieves is to find criminals with a similar history who have recently been released, Lanier says. Those who steal cars are rarely youth, she says, but rather 50- or 60-year-old career life-long criminals.

Lanier responded to WTOP's coverage of the drop in prostitution arrests, though the rate of prostitution is not actually decreasing.

The crime is much harder to enforce now that prostitutes are not finding johns on the street, says Lanier. It's gone "indoors. Everything is done online."

The areas where prostitution takes place are also the locations of violence against D.C.'s transgender community, the chief says. Those attacks are consistent with where other violence occurs.

"They're becoming victims like anyone else," she says.

There were 13 total homicides in D.C. in October, she says, the same as last year. However, police have made arrests in eight of these, producing a much higher record of closing cases than previous years.

There have been no charges yet in the Oct. 31 shooting of a 17-year-old in Georgetown, who remains in critical condition. Lanier points to the general increase of violence on Halloween, mirrored in 16 shootings in New Orleans, along with an elevated number of shootings in Chicago and Anchorage, Alaska.

"It just seems around the country, Halloween was a very dangerous night."

In case you missed it, check out the full audio at right or this live blog:

10:55 a.m., speaking about the Swiss embassy employee who struck a pedestrian while driving:

These take time, because traffic accidents involve a lot of calculations and work with the attorneys. The driver of that car has been very cooperative, and as far as I know, is still in the city.

10:51 a.m., speaking about encrypting transmissions of the police department:

Every major city in the country is moving toward encryption. Those who haven't already have done so simply for financial reasons.

It's put officers at risks, and makes fighting crime harder. Criminals are using those scanners to escape from crime, and in at least one case it caused a fatality.

10:47 a.m., speaking about her contract and how much she makes:

I haven't renewed my contract. It's five years from my confirmation, which would be April 2012. I've had discussions with the mayor and city attorney.

It's just such a fun job. I love what I do. "As long as I feel that way..."

I have a lot of common ground with the mayor on how we run law enforcement in the city. "I don't see any reason to leave."

10:44 a.m., speaking about 'Occupy' encampments around town:

We allow protesters to block traffic for years. There was legislation introduced a few years back that said people don't need to have a permit or let police know.

"I enforce the laws that are on the books, which means people march around the city and shut down traffic."

I think there is a good relationship between police and the protesters. We asked for their cooperation when they're moving, we get that cooperation. I've observed situations where they were blocking the street, and on their own moved to allow emergency vehicles to pass.

"I think it's fine. Let's hope it stays that way."

10:43 a.m., speaking about prostitution arrests:

Each district has a vice unit tasked with that. There is a central vice unit that does a different kind of enforcement. We've had a decrease from 2009 to 2010. Enforcement right now is much more difficult. It's not as much of a visible problem as it used to be.

It's gone "indoors. Everything is done online."

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