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Chief: Drones good for Fairfax, not for D.C.

Thursday - 5/10/2012, 3:41pm  ET

(WTOP/Paul D. Shinkman)

Ask the Chief

D.C. Police Chief Cathy Lanier speaks with WTOP's Mark Segraves


Paul D. Shinkman,
Mark Segraves,

WASHINGTON - Drones in the skies over Northern Virginia makes sense, though they likely won't be monitoring the District in the near future, says the D.C. chief of police, also a homeland security expert.

Chief Cathy Lanier, who founded the department's first Homeland Security/Counter-Terrorism Branch, has been following the use of drones since they were first implemented over American soil in Arizona to help monitor the U.S.-Mexican border.

"There are a lot of different uses for it," Lanier told WTOP while speaking on "Ask the Chief." She doesn't have any plans to purchase drones for D.C. use at this time, saying they wouldn't be useful.

"I think it's entirely different for a sprawling county like Fairfax," she says.

In April, the Fairfax County chief of police said drones would "certainly" come to the skies over the Beltway.

"Drones will certainly have a purpose and a reason to be in this region in the next, coming years," Fairfax County Police Chief David Rohrer told WTOP. "Just as a standpoint as an alternative for spotting traffic and sending information back to our VDOT Smart Traffic centers, and being able to observe backups."

Learn more about drones over Virginia, and concerns over privacy protections by following this link.

Lanier says the use of drones wouldn't assist her officers combat D.C. crimes.

Violent crimes are up 14 percent since last year, she says.

She has also noticed a rise in "snatch" crimes, recommending pedestrians don't text while walking. Her initiative to work with cell phone companies to "brick" stolen phones so they cannot be resold won't take effect until October.

A recent proposal to extend the hours during which bars can serve alcohol won't cause additional crimes or disturbance, she said.

"I really don't see it as a huge problem," she says. "If there is a problem, it will be at the same places where we have problems now."

Learn more about what Lanier thinks of a raise for police officers, and the "tabloidy" story she criticizes as a "personal attack" in our live blog:

10:57 a.m., speaking about a rise in violent crime:

It has increased 14 percent.

We still are up in robberies. Assault with Deadly Weapon is up slightly.

Robberies are what causes this.

There's always a curfew this summer.

10:56 a.m., speaking about her residence:

The paperwork for my refinance listed my Maryland property as not my residence. In 2007 before I bought my home, that was my primary residence.

10:54 a.m., speaking about the case of a man who found his stolen bike through Craigslist:

He hopped in a cab and asked police to send undercover officers.

By that time, he was already arriving at the destination. We didn't refuse to support him, we wanted him to give us time to react so we could make sure nobody got hurt.

He did steal is bike back. If you have one, please hang on to the serial number, because we recover a lot of those.

If you lock your bike, take the seat off. It helps alert our officers that a bike is stolen.

10:52 a.m., speaking about forcing marchers to first get a permit:

I think it makes good sense, and helps organize any conflicts.

It doesn't put a blanket on free speech. It allows the demonstrators to reserve an area. Even if we don't meet the timeline, we still find a way to accommodate them.

We're still dealing with Occupy protesters several times a week.

10:48 a.m., speaking about extending bars' serving hours for alcohol:

"I really don't see it as a huge problem. If there is a problem, it will be at the same places where we have problems now."

It would only be an overtime issue if we have to make arrests.

10:46 a.m., speaking about Chef Geoff's speed camera:

This is a victory for road construction. But if it makes Chef Geoff feel good, we can bring it back.

Right now, I think we have sufficient numbers to do what we want to do.

10:44 a.m., speaking about Cole Hamels purposefully beaning Nats rookie Bryce Harper:

There are no criminal charges at the time.

10:43 a.m., speaking about crime related to home sports games:

I can't say statistically "yes," but I've experienced it's very quiet when there's a good game on.

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