Washington, D.C. firefighters are being dispatched on late-night patrols to high-crime areas as deterrents and during the day to provide payday protection for residents enrolled in the city’s youth-jobs program, raising safety concerns for the “unarmed” firefighters.
The order was issued by the office of Mayor Vincent C. Gray to prevent problems like those last summer when participants in the Summer Youth Employment Program were targeted for muggings and to cut back on summer crime.
Lon Walls, spokesman for the D.C. Fire and Emergency Medical Services, said Wednesday the firefighters are not expected to serve as policemen, “but sometimes a uniform presence can be a deterrent.”
However, union officials question why the Gray administration would send firefighters to some of the city’s worst corners and perhaps put their safety at risk.
“They are going to send unarmed, untrained firefighters out into some of the most dangerous areas,” said police union Chairman Kristopher Baumann.