Bullet Proof Glass At The Petworth Post Office


This is something that has been bothering me for a while. I’ve mentioned that the bullet proof glass at the bodegas around town is a bit off putting but I can understand it a bit as the history has been a bit choppy and small businesses have a lot to loose. But I was totally perplexed at the bullet proof glass at the Petworth Post Office on 9th Street. I mean is that really necessary today? Is the fact that it’s a felony offense to rob a post office not enough deterrent? Do the employees really feel that threatened? Or is it just too expensive (or simple inertia has set in) to remove it? I’m honestly interested to hear what you guys think? Any one else offended?

40 Comment

  • It’s actually to protect the customers from the employees.

  • “Is the fact that it’s a felony offense to rob a post office not enough deterrent?”

    Dude you should be able to answer your own question…

  • I was surprised to see this at the 14th & T St post office too. It probably was a necessity in the past and they probably just can’t be bothered to remove it. I’m not offended though.

  • It is unfortunate that it is there, but I suspect that it has something to do with the amount of money coming through that PO I have been in there a few times recently, and folks are dropping hundreds of dollars in cash for money orders, while there is usually only one postal clerk behind the counter.

  • Prince Of Petworth

    Ah, I never thought about the money orders before.

  • “Is the fact that it’s a felony offense to rob a post office not enough deterrent?”

    Isn’t just about any kind of robbery, e.g. the sort that occurs all the time in all around this city all the time, a felony? Not to mention the assaults, homicides, carjackings, etc…

    I don’t think your average violent criminal gives a lot of thought to the potential consequences of their actions should they be caught.

  • I totally think they feel that threatened. I was there this morning and there were two women sending some sort of package. The lady behind the counter was very insistent that they not lift up the sliding door till she had placed the package there (basically not have any chance of contact)… They didn’t seem threatening, but she clearly wasn’t taking chances with anyone.

  • Prince Of Petworth

    I now see my felony thought was made in haste…

  • The post office on Penn. SE doesn’t have it (yet?) but the one near the DMV in SW has it – which considering the history of that neighborhood makes it unsurprising.

  • seems excessive. when was the last time a post office was robbed? i suppose there must be a good amount of cash in the drawers, but is it that much more than any other retail business?

  • All of the post offices in and around Brookland and nearby Maryland have it. Was shocked the first time but now I’m so used to it I’m surprised by post offices that don’t have it.

  • When someone is jonesing for the kind of high you can only get from ingesting massive amounts of stamp glue, you need as much protection between you and him as possible. Rationality will not prevail.

    Just kidding. I echo the other sentiments – lots of postal money orders = cash in place and the thought of a federal offense being a deterrent, in this town, anyway, is laughable.

  • It might not be about robbery at all. Merely protecting the employees. I mean, they are right in front of the subsidized housing … so I imagine it could get dicy. You know, random crap happens, and it isn’t that easy to bring the dead back. When you consider when the post office was built, and the micro-neighborhood its in, this isn’t a mystery.

  • Some of the Wachovias (or is that Wells Fargo now) have the tellers behind bullet proof glass.

  • It certainly is depressing to live in a neighborhood where vendors feel they have to put up such things to feel safe. Is the reality that Petworth has a long history of violent robberies so much so that owners/operators feel it’s necessary for their safety? At least they don’t have bullet proof glass at the Wendy’s and Safeway!!

    I must say it’s quite nice that the owner of the Town and Country Market on Upshur actually comes out from behind the glass to put beer in my shopping bag, now that is some customer service!

    Does anyone know, how many gun-involved store robberies, including gas stations and banks, occur every year in the District? Has it increased or decreased in the last 20-30 years?

  • @Park View:

    Subsidized housing means that people are more poor than you. Not more violent, more menacing, or more threatening.

    You are not more and they are not less.

  • Well, as a matter of fact poorer people do commit more crime – not because they are worse as people, but because they are poor – means to end.

    Maeella, I think the reason she was insisting is that the door on the other side actually does not even open if the door on the opposite side is not closed. I.e. just the way that thingie works.

  • The Ledroit Park Post Office I go to as bulletproof glass. Yeah, I echo everyone else in the large amounts of cash bit. Eh, I don’t even notice it anymore, kind of like the security bars on the doors and ground-level windows on rowhouses.

    @WestIndianArchie: The Wachovia I go to on 7th St. near the Shaw-Howard Metro has bulletproof glass.

  • I don’t know–while the post offices in the part of town where I grew up don’t have bulletproof glass, I hadn’t been in a bank without the glass until I was in college. And I distinctly remember thinking to myself, “Don’t they get robbed all the time, just sitting out there without any glass?”

  • Its federal regulations for the most part, post-anthrax patriot act stuff. Even downtown post offices have bullet proofing, at least the one near my office and the white house do.

  • Plus USPS has a crazy stong union.

  • Anyone who hasn’t worked retail or ‘customer service’ around here is really in no position to question these folks’ desire to stay safe. Corporate places like Wendy’s place $$ and pr ahead of their staff safety, that’s why you won’t see lexan [bullet proof glass] there, and in some cases it’s just not all that practical [supermarkets/bars etc]. It’s really all about what a retailer has to do to feel safe – if they want to spend the effort and money to put the shielding up that’s their choice. If you want to actually help make the neighborhood safer then do your part, and if things improve they’ll probably take it down, as most places in Adams Morgan and Logan/U St area have.

  • When I first moved to DC in 1997, I had to trek to the 14th St. post office to pick up a package and was surpised to see the bullet proof glass and a sign on the wall that stated it was federal offense with a $75,000 fine if you assaulted a postal employee. After I left, I went up the street to Subway (14th and U) and was even more shocked to find bullet-proff glass there! They couldn’t even get my 12 inch sub through the little revolving, bullet-proof doors without squishing it!

  • I’m with the “It’s a fact of life” crowd here. Frankly, the two biggest places where bullet-proof glass is unwelcome for me are (1) restaurants (and probably just The Rib Pit on 14th, if it still has the glass up — the only restaurant that has up glass where I actually would want to eat) and (2) liquor stores (I really like to pick up a bottle before I buy it).

  • yup its fed regulations. it is not bullet proof but BLAST proof. notice the ‘man trap’ for packages on the left side of the picture that can contain a bomb if it detonates.

  • They have the same bullet-proof glass at the 14 & L Street NW post office… and that post office isn’t exactly in a “rough” neighborhood. Those lobbyists sure are a scary crowd…

  • there is a lot of money back there – and a lot of blank money orders – i think its necessary – plus the ONE employee is sweet – i’d hate for her to be robbed by some hooligan

  • Also, stamp theft used to be a big issue back in the day according to some of my instructors. I guess it was better than foodstamp scams.

  • The best bit about this post office is that it is closed for lunch between 9:30 and 10:30 am. That is an early lunch paw paw.

  • It’s not “blast proof” there are plenty of post offices without this. That contraption is to allow the passage of parcels and larger items without leaving a hole in the bulletproof glass that can be reached through. Only one door can open at a time.

    And I will echo the point about money orders. I was confused about this too until I was in line at the Ledroit Post Office a few years ago for about twenty minutes while a fairly elderly lady made a lengthy series of transactions from an inch-thick wad of cash she was exchanging for money orders in various denominations.

  • BTW – the Petworth post office is one of the most pathetic post offices I have ever been in – it is sketchy and dingy and that poor woman behind the counter said that they don’t even have a computer! I am pleasantly surprised at how nice nice she is given her dreadful working conditions. Kudos to her!

  • Subsidized housing means that people are more poor than you. Not more violent, more menacing, or more threatening.


    There’s this thing called reality and your good-naturedness cannot escape from it.

    Look at the statistics. The arrest statistics in DC absolutely reflect income. go to http://www.crimereports.com and look at any map of petworth.

    Crime can happen anywhere in the city. Crime happens everywhere in the city. Crime around subsidized housing happens exponentially more.

    I’ve had this discussion with people for 20 years. The statistics are inescapable. Poor people cause more violent crime in the same neighborhood and the same city. Is it 10% more? 25% more? I don’t know, but I know that the statistics about muggings and burglaries are right there.

    But don’t write something so gullible and ignorant again. you come off like a rube, Country Mouse.

  • #1. The bullet proof glass at the Petworth post office pre-dates 9/11. I saw it there around 1998? 1999?

    #2. Very few post offices in DC have this glass. I go to like 5 or 6 different ones and none of them have this glass.

    #3. the old Mt Pleasant post office didn’t have this glass.

    #4. I hate that glass.

  • The post office near my house when I lived in Brussels had the same thing. I was always a little confused because there was never any crime in the entire neighborhood while I lived there. That said, I wasn’t as shocked when I walked into this post office given the location.

  • Forget the bullet proof glass, the sweet woman DEMANDS exact change, but ever so very nicely. 🙂

  • neener, the existence of glass would be determined by the regulations in place at the time the desk at the post office was constructed or renovated. The age of the building or the location itself does not determine the existence of blastproof shielding.

  • I use the Park View PO (near Georgia/Lamont) constantly to sell books and this is familiar to me – I am constantly in a line of 8 people all getting money orders. So it makes sense to me to have the glass, although it’s a pain waiting for the employees to always have to come over to open the glass box so I can give them my packages to mail.

  • saf

    “Its federal regulations for the most part, post-anthrax patriot act stuff.”

    No it’s not. Most of the POs that have it had it LONG before that.

  • First, whenever a PO is either built or renovated, a security assessment is conducted to determine which countermeasures are necessary. There are no Federal Regulations and it has nothing to do with the post-anthrax or post-9/11 world we live in. It is entirely based on assets and liabilities, how much money is on-hand, including stamps and money orders vs. the risk. So, a high volume PO in a decent area might get increased countermeasures (14th and L) and once the countermeasures are in place it is not financially responsible to change things (Headline: Post Office Remodels Again!!)

    Second, neighborhoods that are lower income or predominantly immigrant have very high money order sales, which must be purchased with cash or a debit card. These populations statistically have a lower reliance on traditional banks and are more likely to live in an entirely cash basis, therefore money orders are a necessary means of remittance and the PO has been serving this function for years.

    Third, many businesses employ exactly the same countermeasures, even in new installs today in “nice neighborhoods.” The new Wachovia Bank at 18th and Columbia Rd, NW recently opened with a full bullet-resistant screen line.

    Fourth, as several people have stated, the package transfer vestibule is designed to only allow one door to be opened at a time, another security countermeasure.

    Fifth, the Petworth PO does have a computer, it even has a toilet for its employee

  • Bottlomline…

    Heavy-duty security measures like the bulletproof glass is installed where we see a high crime rate or a repeated problem at one time.

    As of the Post Offices in the US, there are over 40,000 postal outlets and very few of them have bulletproof glass. There is a good chance you will see them in an urban setting.

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