Pick up The Sun every morning with...

I AM KURT SCHMOKE. I

February 19, 1992|By THEO LIPPMAN JR.

I AM KURT SCHMOKE. I pick up The Sun every morning with dread. What will be the crime headline today? These stories are murder. They are killing the city. People say poverty causes crime. Let me tell you, crime causes poverty.

Crime scares people away from a neighborhood to the point that the businesses go broke. No more profits to spend in the city. No more taxes. No more jobs. Poverty.

Oh, my God! Look at this! A series of kidnappings right downtown in broad daylight. Teen-agers roaming parking garages, forcing victims into the trunks of their own cars, taking their money and credit cards. They killed one victim.

A victim who got away said, "This tells you something about safety downtown. There are killers down there in the garages. It shakes my faith. I'll never be the same again."

He'll probably never come back downtown again, either. How many suburbanites who read that story will never come back downtown? How many city residents? How many city residents will move out?

Plenty, unless something dramatic is done fast. I'm the mayor. I've got to do it. How's this for starters? I announce that henceforth there will be a cop on every floor of every downtown parking garage 24 hours a day. City cops, too. None of those state Barney Fifes that let the gang leader get away at the airport.

Also, how about making a real example of the hoodlums in this case? I'm an old prosecutor. Maybe my former deputy, State's Attorney Stuart Simms, will let me try the case, going for the death penalty, of course. That'd get everyone's attention. Maybe they'd televise it.

I don't know. Might look like grandstanding. I've got it! I'll get Simms to hire Bill Swisher as special prosecutor. I beat Bill when he ran as a shoot-first-ask-questions-later prosecutor. The symbolism of it would be great! We're all law-'n'-order hardliners now!

Ahhh, what's the use? We don't have the resources to control crime in cities anymore. The feds have got to save us. I hear by the grapevine that even the stodgy old conservatives on the editorial board of the Sunpapers have been discussing the drastic step of shifting resources from the military to cities to fight crime. Theo Lippman even proposed permanently stationing MPs in public housing projects.

His colleagues called him crazy, but it's interesting that Sen. Bob Kerrey said last month that if he were president, "I would not hesitate to use the military to help rid inner cities of drugs." And Sen. Sam Nunn proposed two weeks ago that drill sergeants who are being let go be sent to "schools where discipline is a problem." He also proposed that military personnel with law enforcement skills be steered to local police forces. "Individuals who have been guarding nuclear weapons would be a tremendous asset to any law enforcement organization in the country," he said. They ought to be able to keep our parking garages safe.

And if that doesn't work, I wonder what a surplus nuke will go for?

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