The Washington, D.C., Metropolitan Police Department has twice as many officers per resident as the city of Charleston. Add the police forces that patrol the embassies, Capitol, White House and city parks and you can understand why a Los Angeles police chief called D.C. "wall-to-wall-cops."
Yet at times, that heavy concentration of law enforcement results in police misadventures worthy of the Keystone Kops.
For instance, The Washington Post reports that before attending the Congressional Black Caucus dinner last Saturday night in D.C., Maryland resident Martena Clinton parked her 1994 Lexus in a nearby legal space, leaving a necklace in the glove compartment and her handbag in the trunk. Hours later, she came out to find the car gone.
The city police said the Secret Service had ordered it towed as a security precaution because President Obama was speaking at the dinner. But they didn't know where it had been towed. They kept her waiting several hours, then suggested it might have been stolen. By now it was 1:30 a.m. -- very early Sunday morning. The police advised her to get a hotel room. That cost her $165.
The next morning, the police told her, "If we find the car, we will call you. If we haven't found it in 30 days, call your insurance company."
Then they stopped returning her calls.
But as she was being driven home by a friend Sunday afternoon, they spotted her car a block and a half from where she parked it. Her necklace and handbag were secure. In more than 15 hours of alleged searching, the D.C. cops had failed to notice it in front of a fire hydrant in a no-parking zone. That's a far from reassuring performance by the muni-cipal police of our nation's capitol.
Mrs. Clinton didn't tell the police she found her car, quipping: "Let 'em keep looking."
And let us be thankful that law enforcement agencies in the Charleston area seem much more capable of protecting and serving us than their D.C. counterparts.