I belong to D.C. Metro's Third District Public Safety listserv. This morning, I received a message from the listserv in my inbox. It began like this:
"More and more over the listserv and from our friends and neighbors we are hearing about escalating increases in violence, in gun violence, in violence both against and by youth, in robberies and break-ins, and assaults against innocent victims, sometimes for no apparent reason... Crime is on the rise in the 3rd district and we seem at a loss as to what to do. True, we feel that more police presence is needed, but is that the magical silver bullet?"
Very apropos of my recent experience, to say the least. I was hooked. I read on:
"...We feel that community involvement in this myriad complexity of increased incidents of violence within our community is also part of the solution... A concept the young ladies have developed and are putting into existence is called "The Pink Hat Patrol." These young ladies along with other youth will patrol several hot spots in The District of Columbia along with MPD, community, and community organizations, pass out literature in an effort to assist families and young people that are 'hanging out' on the streets. The ultimate goal of this effort is to assist in deterring crime..."
My first reaction was to bemoan the numerous errors in syntax (e.g., "people that are 'hanging out'" really should be "people who are 'hanging out'"), but I got over this quickly upon realizing that a poster on a community listserv probably doesn't have a copy editor at his or her disposal.
My second reaction was to question the potential effectiveness of the proposed "Pink Hat Patrol" in its self-proclaimed goal of "deterring crime."
Now, I know nothing about fighting or deterring crime, nor am I familiar with the specific activities that the Pink Hat Patrol will undertake. Ultimately, I applaud and support any effort that any person or community group takes to deter crime, especially in the neighborhood in which I live. At the very least, this group's efforts can't make the problem any worse than it already is (well, unless the women of the Pink Hat Patrol ultimately become targets of crimes themselves, a feat of tragic irony I hope not to witness...)
No, my primary beef with the Pink Hat Patrol is its name. The name "Pink Hat Patrol" is in and of itself a structural impediment to deterring anything but respect. The odds are stacked aganist these women as it is - why make the playing field more uneven with such a lame name?
Fortunately, I have a quick fix that will only require replacing a few letters - change the name to the "Big Gat Patrol." I bet the group would be even more effective if they were, in fact, provided with big gats. Are you listening to me, MPD? Feel free to run with it...