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Live Blog: Ask the Chief with Cathy Lanier

Thursday - 1/6/2011, 11:49am  ET

D.C. Police Chief Cathy Lanier

Jan. 6, 2011 - Lanier discussed the police officer who died after crashing his cruiser into a Pepco pole in October, the department's plans to reopen its student truancy centers and the new Metro bag searches.

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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.

Lanier discussed the police officer who died after crashing his cruiser into a Pepco pole in October -- who she says was not wearing a seatbelt, the department's plans to reopen its student truancy centers, and the new Metro bag searches.

Here's what she had to say:

10:55 a.m., speaking about the 311 operators referring callers to 911:

"If you need the police, dial 911."

There is a system that allows the call taker to prioritize the call, so don't feel like you're overburdening the 911 system.

"It's there for you to reach police."

10:37 a.m., speaking about officers talking on cellphones while driving:

"Police officers every day are driving their cars, talking on a police radio...operating the light and sounding box, and we train officers to do that."

"But for the public to see officers not using a hands-free device, and then write tickets for not using a hands-free device, it causes problems."

10:36 a.m., speaking about Metro bag searches:

A small group of terrorists in Mumbai picked several pre-designated targets, but also targets of opportunity. Terrorists will pick targets that appear to be more vulnerable than others.

"The terrorist threat has significantly changed since what we've been dealing with since 2001, and the threat level is pretty high. The community has to decide what security they're willing to put up with."

10:32 a.m., speaking about the relationship with the police unions under a Gray administration, particularly with "All Hands on Deck":

I think the relationship looks different than it actually is from the outside.

Remember the police union represents 3,000 police officers, or so. Our job is to make sure they are safe. The relationship with the union chairman, Kris Baumann, is a little different. He repeatedly comes out and makes personal attacks on me, and I'm not going to be baited into that.

All Hands on Deck is something we came up with that the union strongly supported. A spike in crime in 2006 forced millions of dollars in overtime pay. The union said that was ridiculous, and I agreed. All Hands on Deck doesn't cost anything, because it's planned, it's proactive.

"It's a very effective tactic: crime goes down, it saves the city money, I don't see why I wouldn't do it."

"All Hands on Deck is something the community loves."

10:25 a.m., speaking about snow preparation:

But we're ready. We've stocked up on the things we need to stock up on.

10:22 a.m., speaking about police officers wearing seatbelts:

A recent officer who died in a car crash was not wearing a seatbelt. It pains me to say that.

I started a campaign in 2007 to stop traffic crashes among our members. We had hundreds of avoidable accidents last year, many of which were just back-up crashes.

It's a little uncomfortable for officers to wear it with all the gear they carry, "but it's not so uncomfortable or inconvenient that they lose their life."

It's incumbent upon us to do these campaigns, because they do make a difference.

10:17 a.m., speaking about a crystal meth bust:

Crystal meth has never established itself in the D.C. community. This was a Mexican cartel that sought to establish distribution in D.C.

Anyone who was here when crack was big in D.C. remembers how devastating that can be to a community.

10:16 a.m., speaking about the body of a girl found in a dumpster:

"I think that's going to be a case that we close."

10:15 a.m., speaking about the DC9 murder:

"It's still so heartbreaking for everybody involved."

The U.S. Attorney will be making the determination of what charges, if any, will be place. They make the decision to what level of prosecution they will have.

10:13 a.m., speaking about new laws:

A few that are coming online in 2011:

A new law for how disorderly conduct is defined, such as urinating in public, loud and boisterous behavior, and other "very useful" parts.

10:11 a.m., speaking about how citizens can help with truancy efforts: That's something we've already started talking about, and we know the new administration is very supportive of our multi-organization efforts.

We've closed down the truancy center. Now, we have multiple vans going around and picking up truants and taking them directly back to school.

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