I'm always intrigued by a trip to Washington, D.C. Inside the beltway it has remarkable sights, a successful subway system, sprawling parks, and terrific dining.
Outside the beltway, it's another city. There are wealthy and intriguing neighborhoods - mostly low crime and safe - and blighted and poor neighborhoods to the east - mostly high crime and unsafe.
Once known as Murder City USA, today Washington's crime declines echo the Great American Crime Decline in every other city since 1990s.
Still, high crime and fear remain.
In recent years police have enacted "crime emergencies" allowing the cops to double their manpower at peak times, gang intervention programs and police checkpoints. Though murders are at an all-time low, they are still 5 times the national average.
It is 2 years since the Supreme Court lifted DC's handgun ban. Yet the fear of crime persists. ABC news claims it's the affluent neighborhoods (where crime was already lowest) where gun purchases have spiked - a matter of fear over reality. It's in the poor neighborhoods (where most crime happens) where gun purchases have been dropping!
And now a cool new website - Stumble Safely - is under development in DC. Say's it's promo:
"Stumble Safely helps you find the best bars and a safe path to stumble home on. You can see some of our favorite spots on these maps …It doesn’t matter when or where you start drinking for Stumble Safely to help you."
In other words, in spite of the crime declines, police tactics, and gun purchases, perhaps in the end it's everyday community folks coming up with innovative new ideas (like setting up their own websites) that can best improve safety.
Jane Jacobs, it seems, was right.