Friday Question of the Day

Today’s Friday question of the day comes from the forum section. I selected it as FQOTD because I’ve been quite curious about this as well. We once spoke about community policing a long time ago but it has sort of fallen of the radar. So Park Road Guy asks:

“Have you seen your friendly neighborhood police officer on foot? Or are they still cruising up and down the street, flashing their cherries to get through red lights? Have you ever spoken to a police officer on duty about your concerns? Do you even know your foot patrol officer’s name? Does your block even have a foot patrol officer?”

I used to see some on Upshur Street and Georgia Ave. from time to time but I haven’t seen any in quite a long time.  I don’t expect to see foot patrols on every small block we live on but it would be nice to see some on the main streets.  Are there any regulars on 14th St.?  U St.?  11th St.? Etc.

30 Comment

  • I went to costa rica and never once saw a cop and never once felt unsafe. why is this? could it be decriminalization of pot, coke, and hookers? no no no. it must be. the climate? no no wait. the 97 percent literacy rate? no no no it must be the bananas? oh hell i dont know. maybe its the lizano salsa.

  • I was about to say that I’ve never seen officers on foot in the 16th/U St. area (despite being not 2 blocks from the police station)… but a few months ago I definitely saw a police officer come in to the Starbucks on the corner and order a coffee. He even made a joke about how they are never robbed when he’s there… (I think that implies he’d been there at least once before).

  • in mt pleasant we have a cop who zips around on a segway

  • There are the mounted officers on 14th- I’ve seen them several times, but I think they stick with the area from Euclid to Park, and I’ve seen a few officers in passing, but I’m not sure if they were trying to walk from point A to point B or patrolling the area. We did get a card on our door one day with an officers name, e-mail- apparently he was our designated officer. We e-mailed once about an issue and never got a response. But I’m okay with patrol officers not returning e-mails- it really shouldn’t be there job.

  • I love it how someone tries to compare a country like Costa Rica, where independent security contractors hired by hotels keep the locals “in line” and presumes that it’s some kind of paradise.

    I’ve talked to the officers in my neighborhood many times, but I’m astonished how uneducated they are. They almost always have some urban legend to tell me about that’s utter BS. They’re very nice, but part of the problem is that they are not educated in the real world, so they seem to believe any nonsense someone tells them. true.

  • true lizano salsa is great.
    but anonymous #1 seems to have left out how people in san jose put 360 degree, covered, fences around their entire house, just because they feel safe.

  • We have a great relationship with our local officers up here in North Country. We have one officer on bike and another on a motorcycle who always seems to have time to talk and make it a point to stop by when we are out working on our yard, etc. They’ve offered us advice on how to best protect our home, updates on community security and even a little bit of “crime gossip.”

    The other night we were working on our front lawn in preparation for a BBQ we were hosting that evening when both officers stopped by. We invited both to stop by our BBQ that night, the bike officer did and was really great, seemed to enjoying meeting our friends, visiting our home and contrary to what Neener indicated, seemed well educated.

    We’ve had other experiences running into officers at local restaurants, etc. and they are always willing to chat a bit, discuss the neighborhood.

    We are really grateful for our local officers. We’ve found that by being interested in, and duly respectful of the work they are engaged in, has helped us to develop a good relationship with them. They work hard, indeed, some harder than others, to protect our neighborhoods and perhaps don’t always “feel the love” from the citizenry.

  • I’ve never seen a proper beat cop in the Intangible Hood, be it on foot, in car, segway, on horseback, or cruising around with two horseshoe crabs duct-taped to his feet.

    However, I’ve tried to have conversations with officers in other neighborhoods and I have YET to find one that isn’t an arrogant asshole. Each attempt at real, human, citizen-to-cop interaction has left me with absolutely no confidence in the local force.

  • I’ve seen a cop walking down Georgia Avenue once in the time that I’ve lived here. Frankly, I was too shocked to say anything to him.

  • Anonymous #1 should realize there’s a difference between living in and visiting a country. I have a friend who sold his house in Bloomingdale several years ago and bought a B&B in Costa Rica. He has had several breaki ns despite the fact that he has to employ a security guard in a gated community. I personally witnessed a robbery of two Spanish tourist on the beach while we were in the ocean. Fortunately the police were swift to respond and made an arrest. We also got to see justice Costa Rican style, which may be why crime is so much lower there. (After we identified the perp on a beach line up, the police loaded him into their van and said they were going to drop him inland about 20 miles in the middle of the jungle to fend for himself. )

  • wow… we need some native costa rican cops to come patrol dc! although, i doubt dropping the thugs in the middle of rock creek park will be the same :/ maybe they could break one of the criminals legs and/or arms first?

  • Have seen officers on bicycles a number of times riding around the north country, often coming south on Illinois, patroling from the 4D HQ I suppose. Occassionally we’ll see one a seque, but rarely any on foot.

  • a cop on every block. thats what we need. and its what we deserve as tax payers

  • With the new charter school on my block you think there would be more foot patrol but it has decreased since the school open. We actually had a bike cop coming by pretty regularly for awhile, clearing folks off the front steps of building, but I haven’t seen her in weeks maybe months.

  • I live near the MPD ROC (located at 801 Shepherd) and see police officers all the time (never on foot, but in police cars, on bikes, Segways, and even horses a few times). When I first moved to Petworth almost 3 years ago there were near nightly police checkpoints at my corner and on a weekly basis I could look out my window and see people getting arrested. Police knocked on my door twice to ask if I had problems on my block and if I felt the block was getting enough police attention.

    Now 2 years later the drug house on my block is gone (declared a drug nuisance property and evicted) and the one on the next block over is getting sold (under contract!!). The change in the neighborhood is impressive. There are still problems, yes, but the constant stream of sketchy dudes who used to frequent the drug houses is practically gone. My neighbors who have lived longer on my block say it was a long, hard battle to get more police attention and they are pretty bitter about it (there were a lot of very serious crimes associated with the drug dealing), but it seems to be paying off.

  • I see them in the North Country from time to time… As far as Anonymous’ comments concerning Costa Rica-or more specifically, other folks’ comments -well, why is it that citizens of the US of A get so defensive when some of our “interesting” approaches to things like education and (especially) health care are questioned?

  • only when i am in fast food restaurants–and ‘no’ i am not making a smart ass comment here, though i am a smart ass. it’s true–i see them in cars driving by or when i am in line at fast food restaurants. that’s the only time i have seen them on their feet….

  • Never really see them around Shaw/Blagden Alley area on foot. Unless there is someone important at the convention center. Then there are usually 20+ SOP cars, and a significant delay in me walking to work.

  • There is a plainclothes cop who hangs out in El Paraiso on 14th pretty regularly, I’ve seen a few police officers at the derby picking up food and hanging around the block for a few minutes, and I also saw my first Segway cop rolling down 13th the other day around quincy. However, apart from being thrown out of El Paraiso I’ve had no interaction with these forementioned federales.

  • “cruising around with two horseshoe crabs duct-taped to his feet.”

    Intangible: please stop making me waste my morning (shut up it’s still am) coffee through my nose.

    Sincerely and snarfily yours,

  • I have never seen a cop on my block (Irving and Sherman) that wasn’t in a car speeding away to somewhere else. But, knock on wood, our block is pretty quiet. Community policing is name only in DC as far as I can tell.

  • We haven’t had the same iinteraction as we did in Dupont, when they would occassionally drop by, knock on the door to meet folks, and drop off their contact information. What we need here is a mutually beneficial relationship, where they grow their careers and we grow our safety through mutual respect and work. ANC commissioner Martin pleaded with the crowded room at this week’s ANC meeting (crowded because of the YesOrganic liqour license issue) to attend the monthly MPD PSA meetings that occur (I believe) on the fourth Thursday of every month at 801 Shepherd from 7:00pm. I am planning on going. One bit of good news from the ANC meeting was that the officer briefing the crowd said the court system changed the requirement for officers to appear at 7:00am the morning after the arrest to file the papers. The officer said he believed arrest rates would rise as a result of the change, particularly for officers woking late shifts.

  • MPD on foot? Tee hee. I’ve only seen them in cars, and only then very rarely. Three disheveled officers (and I mean shirt tails out, wrinkled, 5 o’clock shadow MFers) rolled by a few days back in response to an elderly neighbor who is being terrorized by the children of neighboring renters. She is so beside herself that she’s talking about moving off the block after 50 years here.

    MPD’s response? Meh. “They aren’t doing anything in front of us, so why are you bothering us? It isn’t our problem.” They showed up for a two minutes, broke out, and then the kids started in on the neighbor again, throwing trash in her yard, banging on the common wall, taunting her. No discussion of helping her swear out a complaint, no discussion with the TWENTY or so witnesses standing on their porches, nothing but contempt.

    “MPD: It’s Not Our Problem, You Dumbasses Live Here.”

  • I think I acutally have one living on my block – a cop that is, or at least someone parks a police car there. Have never seen the owner though. I see a guy cruising on an itty bitty motorcycle occasionally when I am walking home from work. I think the guy recongizes me now and we waive to each other. I guess that’s out reach in this day and age!

  • Odentex:

    You have a great point and something that really surprises me. As I previously indicated, we have been VERY impressed by our local officers and have begun developing a good relationship, but every last one of the guys I’ve met has been from Maryland. What’s up with that? I guess some of it is housing prices, for sure, I know these men and women don’t make much, but does that impact their ability to serve at all? Are they less connected to the neighborhoods, less invested?

    Any thoughts?

  • Well, I hate to say it, but nearly every officer I’ve seen on patrol in PW (including the group this week) has been white (which doesn’t necessarily mean they live in Maryland), so the obvious question is, does that effect how they relate to people in a black neighborhood like Petworth? I think it is part of the problem, and part of the negative perception that many have of the officers. Then, on top of them not being from the neighborhood you add having to deal with potentially difficult and deadly situations AND, on top of it all, they stay isolated in a car only to occasionally hop out onto a street they’ve probably never even walked down before.

    It’s a recipe for not being very connected to the neighborhood and, not insignificantly, I think it makes their job more dangerous because they have zero friends on the ground and are often seen as non-caring interlopers.

    Look, I’m sure the officers themselves, individually are typically okay guys (if messy and not capable of tucking in their shirts sometimes), and I understand why they don’t like the paperwork and don’t like to hassle with problems they simply don’t perceive as major issues; but, IT’S THEIR JOB. I know they probably think a noise complaint in Petworth is a bunch of bullshit and unimportant. But, on the other hand, if their precious mother out in Montgomery County was being harassed by neighborhood kids you can bet the response would be completely different, and that makes me dislike them for these sort of actions. I’d like to think that if they stopped and considered it that way they’d change their tune, but I am not holding my breath.

    And it is true that a different set of officers might have handled it better. There is no way that 5000 MPD officers are all as useless as tits on a boar hog, but even those officers that would like to be more connected to the people they protect are hampered by a “community policing” policy that, as DC Dire said earlier, appears to be nonexistent in Petworth and CH.

    One problem that is a relatively easy fix is the lack of storefronts. In many cities the police have literally dozens of small storefront offices peppered throughout neighborhoods in commercial strips. In Petworth where there is an abundance of empty commercial space on streets like Georgia, New Hampshire, Upshur, Kennedy, etc. they could easily set up a half-dozen smaller storefronts to base just a few officers (without cars) and then set up a few foot, bike, or segway patrols from those spots to be seen and be a part of the community — rather than hunkered down in their district bunkers where they race around in cars only when there is a call. Perhaps we could assign just a small % of the force to this sort of work, or have new hires just for that purpose. It’s not rocket science, and Lanier is supposed to have, what, 4 degrees or something? They do this sort of think in any number of cities, most of which are larger than DC and most of which have a smaller force. I think she’s more worried about padding her resume so she can become Obama’s drug czar or homeland security advisor than she is about any real change (other than shuffling a few supervisors). Anyway, I’m not impressed with the brass’ efforts, so it’s no wonder the officers seem to have such a crappy attitude, I guess.

  • … and another point about the smaller storefronts and more local patrols is that they actually can deal with the chronic but not-as-serious issues such as my neighbor is facing because they aren’t patrolling a vast swath of 4D, they can concentrate on learning about the neighborhood and the issues in those few square blocks…. and (god forbid) may be able to intervene to help resolve these problems since they can spend more than 90 seconds on the case. Instead she calls four different times, it takes them forever to show up, and every time it’s a different crew of officers who don’t want to do anything but get right back in the car and the hell out of there. Four calls, zero progress…

    So, that’s my suggestion, stop BSing us with “community policing” that fails to put a single goddamn cop in the community and let’s set up some local cop shops with NO RADIO CARS and put these boys and girls on a regular beat. Sure, telling Junior to pick up the trash and turn down the stereo isn’t as glamorous as rolling down Georgia at 95 per on the way to a good, old-fashioned shootin’, but I think they’ll survive.

  • I know quite a few cops in Maryland that more or less refuse to live in the same county in which they work. I don’t see this as a DC specific problem. They see a lot of stuff that added together will make a person a little jaded toward that area. They prefer to live in another county because they do not associate it with all the crime they see in their beat. I cant really blame them. Perception is a huge factor in the relativity of “safety.”

  • However, I’ve tried to have conversations with officers in other neighborhoods and I have YET to find one that isn’t an arrogant asshole. Each attempt at real, human, citizen-to-cop interaction has left me with absolutely no confidence in the local force.
    funny, I’ve never seen that- quite the opposite, they’re somewhat clueless and trying to ingratiate themselves to me. However the police lieutenant did once tell me that he was impressed that every time he saw me I was wearing a suit and tie and when I walked into the station once, all the women burst out giggling and asked who I wanted to see about neighborhood watch- again because of the suit and tie. Wearing that they become quite deferential, but often embarrass themselves. Never met anyone arrogant.

  • I’ve never seen a police officer walking around my neighborhood on newton Pl and Georgia Ave. I’d appreciate it very much if they did, because there is definetely something going on in this neighborhood. Please let me know if anyone knows a litte more about this area!!!

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