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Chief Lanier speaks up on snow communication

Thursday - 2/3/2011, 10:28am  ET

Police Chief Cathy Lanier (WTOP Photo/Bob Marburg)
Lanier also discussed new noise violation laws and better communication during snow storms. (Bob Marbourg/WTOP Photo)

D.C. Police Chief Cathy Lanier

Feb. 3, 2011 - Lanier talked about the recent snowstorms, and how greater communication might have stemmed the incredible gridlock that ensued.

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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.

The chief discussed last week's snowstorms, and how greater communication might have stemmed the incredible gridlock that extended some drivers' commutes to 14 hours.

"I was really amazed at how quickly the roads became impassable," Lanier said. "I wish I had made some public statements about people who had not yet left their offices."

"I wish I could have said, 'If you haven't left yet, please stay in your office.'"

Initial rain washed away the roads' pretreatment, and the ensuing layer of ice made it very difficult for even four-wheel-drive vehicles to get through.

The roads would have been much clearer if drivers knew to "hunker down" in their offices, Lanier said, or get some food, instead of rushing onto the already crowded roads.

Lanier also discussed new noise violation laws, allowing police officers to make arrests for "unreasonably loud noise" between 10 p.m. and 7 a.m.

"We have not yet made an arrest," she said, "but we'll see how it goes."

Enforcing the laws will be challenging in parts of town like Dupont Circle or Chinatown where residences are flanked by bustling commerical districts.

There always should try to be mediation first, Lanier clarified.

"If that is not workable, and the person creating the disturbance does not cease, there will be an arrest."

Check out what else Lanier talked about on the program Thursday morning:

10:58 a.m., speaking about enforcing laws about illegal immigrants:

We do not do civil immigration enforcement. The big question is (the U.S. Immigration and Custom Enforcement program) "Secure Communities." We are currently not participating in that.

10:54 a.m., speaking about lessons learned from the snow:

I was really amazed at how quickly the roads became impassible. In my view, I wish I had made some public statements about people who had not yet left their offices, if they could do a delayed release instead of an early release, so we could get those roads clear.

The rain washed away the pre-treatment, and the roads instantly froze over.

I wish I could have said, "if you haven't left yet, please stay in your office."

"Either go get some food, or just hunker down until we can get the roads clear."

10:46 a.m., speaking about new noise enforcement laws:

The new law does address disorderly conduct, unreasonably loud noise between 10 p.m. and 7 a.m., that is likely to disturb people inside their residence.

There is now an option for officers to make an arrest in these cases.

"We have not yet had an arrest, but we'll see how it goes."

It's going to be challenging. In some cases we have residences in very busy commercial parts of town.

There always should try to be some resolution or mediation through the parties first. If that is not workable, and the person creating the disturbance does not cease, there will be an arrest.

10:42 a.m., speaking about the number of open arrest warrants:

"They're issued by judicial officers and put into a system, and there is just not an effective way of removing warrants," such as if the person is deceased or the warrant has expired.

"It's an arduous, difficult task."

"It's up to dedicated staffing, and you have to find these folks. It's not as difficult as it seems."

10:38 a.m., speaking about risk in D.C. from the Egypt protests:

The Secret Service is tasked with guarding the embassies. We have had some demonstrations here almost on a daily basis.

All of the protesters are peaceful, and work very well with D.C. police.

10:37 a.m., speaking about the recent car fire on Capitol Hill:

That's going to take some time to get a ruling on, due to the investigation, but right now there is nothing to suggest any foul play.

10:35 a.m., speaking about recent incendiary devices in letters at area post offices:

I'd say the potential risk with the device itself was not for a large number of casualties. However, the fact they were able to put together a device like that indicates they could put together more sophisticated devices.

"That is troubling, to say the least."

We started with additional precautions after the first package was found.

"I think all of us in the region are still very alert and very aware of that situation not yet being resolved."

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