A week ago, a Georgetown student was robbed at gunpoint just a few blocks away from campus. This, according to a Department of Public Safety flyer distributed after the incident, is the eighth robbery that has taken place in the area since students have returned from break. Quick math – in the second half of January there was a robbery almost every other day.

This little crime-spike coincides nicely with our local police force’s renewed crackdown on underage drinking. The etropolitan Police Department has recently made it known that instead of adding cops on the streets to concentrate on crime or patrol cars to concentrate on neighborhood crises and overall security, it will devote extra attention to attacking what’s really ailing this city – college kids drinking cheap beer.

It’s the old line with a twist. Cops will now actually be going into the bars, posing as bartenders and bouncers. It’s a great scheme – load a paddy wagon full of underagers with beer on their breath, ticket them and wait while the cash pours in. A ticket for underage drinking runs upwards of $300, a fake ID yields an even stiffer fine.

This is not to say that underage drinking is not a problem or that Washington, D.C., shouldn’t jump to make a quick buck at the expense of student idiocy. It is a dumb idea to carry your mixed drink with you to Wisemillers, to try and use your roommate’s sister’s ID to get into Champs or to blast really bad techno at 2 a.m. But MPD’s current tactics go well beyond the realm of keeping stupidity in check – students are being publicly, deliberately targeted in a city notorious for tight resources and huge need.

These are sweet days for anyone planning on doing some good-old-fashioned looting and pillaging. This is it, as good as it gets. To me, this seems like MPD is basically telling us that police presence on the streets of Northwest is on the decline, and underage drinking is the real problem. Cops will be fading into the background as they settle into their new bouncer personas – slumping against the doorframes at Third’s and Rhinos, ogling underage cleavage, sipping screwdrivers from plastic cups and asking girls smeared with body glitter to “please state your complete address.” The only way the situation could get any more warped and idiotic would be if MPD actually gave its patrol cars to our assailants to use as getaway cars.

MPD busted a friend’s party this past weekend. Four squad cars showed up on the scene to tell 30 seniors to put down their cups and go home. What would warrant that kind of response? Does anyone really believe that MPD officers have too little to occupy themselves with? What assistance or guidance has Georgetown University offered its students to deal with this increased police presence?

Should we be feeling sorry for these cops? I would want to put an end to keg parties, too, if I had to schlep out to Burleith a half a dozen times a night to tell some guy to turn down the ABBA. They attend the police academy, train, get pumped up watching episodes of COPS, yet spend Friday nights doing the legwork for spineless neighbors, writing stacks of noise violation tickets and admonishing students. It’s embarrassing.

CBS airs a television show, “The District,” which I haven’t actually seen, but I’ve caught the previews. It stars Craig T. Nelson, the guy who used to play “Coach,” as the District’s new no-nonsense police chief. But the guys at CBS don’t seem to have done their research. The MPD depicted in the show seems intent on actually fighting crime, occupying themselves with your typical cop-type business – running around in slow motion with guns and jumping Chevy Caprices over gaps in bridges. The show offers a grossly inaccurate depiction of MPD’s actual priorities. Where are the sting operations on underage drinking, the cops patrolling the streets searching for renegade open containers, officers going undercover as disgruntled bar employees snatching false IDs?

MPD’s quickest response time is getting to the scene of an open container. If only the student who was robbed last week had been holding an open beer at the time – three squad cars would have been there before the assailant had time to pull a gun. Forget Mace – for real police protection in Georgetown, just carry a cracked can of Keystone at all times.

Ramble On is a Viewpoint column this semester.

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