As someone who spent his undergraduate years in Washington, D.C., I have been trying to follow the controversy around those police checkpoints in the Trinidad neighborhood of the city’s Northeast section. The community was put on lockdown for the bulk of last week while law-enforcement officers checked motorists to make sure that they had a good reason for driving through the area.
This was the city’s attempt to deal with a spike in violent crime, including drive-by’s. Police at those checkpoints required that people provided them with their names and the phone numbers of the places they were visiting in the community, a procedure that angered some residents and encouraged others.
The city believes that desperate times have called for desperate measures. Some residents felt that the process merely demonized everybody and insulted long-term community members.
As of this week, the checkpoint system is no more (at least for now). But cities like Washington are still trying to figure out how to deal effectively with a post-90s uptick in urban crime. Did the checkpoints go too far?