Dear PoPville – Is it right for so many cops to be hanging out in the Yes! market?

“Dear PoPville,

On Tuesday evening at about 6:00 pm, I stopped in Yes! Market on Georgia Ave. to pick up a few things. There were two police cars outside, and as I entered, I noticed 4 police bicycles inside the store. As I turned the corner I saw 6 police officers congregated around the front cafe table. They looked to be having a good time, relaxing and staying out of the heat. By the time I checked out, two of the officers had left, but the other four were still chilling. I snapped a photo, but you can only see three of the officers – the other is hidden behind the officer in the all-dark uniform.

I often see officers hanging out there, but I had never seen such a large group that seemed quite settled in. This was definitely not a case of a few of them stopping in for a quick drink of water. They appeared to be quite settled in.

I think its great that there is a strong police presence at that store for the sake of keeping it open. Yes! is an important part of the Georgia Ave. rejuvenation. But it disturbed me to see this many officers there rather than on the streets. What good are cops on bikes if all they do is sit inside Yes!??? Has this ever been discussed by the community? I’ve only lived in Petworth for a year, but I KNOW there is plenty of activity for them to be monitoring in the neighborhoods. If nothing else, they could be monitoring all the commuter traffic using our neighborhood as a freeway.”

I think an officer is stationed off duty there (kinda like you see at Target.) But also on plus 90 degree days, I think it’s ok for the cops to take a break for a while. Hopefully, the breaks fall within a legit amount time.

70 Comment

  • I’ve had this concern about the number of cops I’ve seen hanging out in the Dunkin Donuts/Baskin Robbins at 8th and Pennsylvania SE (and no, I’m not making a stereotypical joke)!

  • Seriously?? It sounds like OP is trying to make a mountain out of a mole hill. I’m sorry you gave him/her space, PoP.

  • Did you post just to get a rise out of people?

    • Obviously, because I can’t understand why PoP would waste space on such an asinine “inquiry.”

      God forbid cops who are on bike patrol when its 90 degrees with 100% humidity take a break in the neighborhood. I would recommend that the concerned commenter do a little research on Community Policing.

      Thank goodness the PoP community seems to get it

  • Keeping DC organics safe. They should go over to the vegetable section, cause then they would be on the beet.

    Try the boneless chicken thighs and remember to tip your sushi organic person well. I will be here all week.

  • I usually take a few breaks during my work day to check email and the news. Should I be docked pay for that?

    Let them have their break whether at Yes or DDonuts

  • Hanging out for a small amount of time is fine, I don’t see this observation as enough to create any valid discussion around the topic.

    One of my peeves are traffic cops rolling from car to car on Segways giving tickets!! I saw one in Woodley Park a few days ago…seriously is that tax money well spent? Plus doesn’t help on our obesity problem either.

  • Police carry these devices called “radios.” When something happens that requires their attention, they can be contacted through these devices. Isn’t modern technology grand?!

  • The Yes! in Brookland actually has a small table set up in front for an officer as part of a community policing initiative. Maybe the management at Yes! has reached out the DCPD as part of the same program? Seems like a win-win for Yes! and the immediate area. Would you rather see them here or idling in patrol cars?

    • Yeah, that’s nice for “Yes! and the immediate area”, but what about my block a half mile from there?

      A cop or two taking a break – fine, but this sounds like a group of 6 students cutting class.

      Basically, this is the problem with cops and commnity policing. They never get out in the community and get to know residents. They either keep to themselves too much like this, or just chill in their cars.

  • The cop in the photo with the bike helmet is a local, actually lives in the neighborhood. If he wants to chill out with his team in Yes for a few, so be it! Actually nice to have a little mini police substation there.

    The real story here is these cops bust ass all the time arresting bad guys and the lax laws in this city allow them back on the streets, especially the youth criminals. Focus your angst on something that may actually make a difference – elect leaders who will pass laws to toughen up and stop enabling gangs to employ youth assassins because they know they can get away with it.

    • “Actually nice to have a little mini police substation there.”

      Agreed! When we lived near the old Nehemiah strip center there was a substation in “the chicken store” (that place REEKED). Gave them a leg up (heh) on getting to crime scenes in the immediate area and helped keep things in check, well sort of, around that convenience store.

      Great that they have a high profile space to be. If they were hanging out for two or three hours that would be a problem. But then what would you be doing in Yes for two or three hours?

    • I think it’s a good way to build community and get to know your local police officers. I often say hi to them when they are in there, and they have come to recognize me. So when they pass by my house or I see them elsewhere in the neighborhood, we give each other a nod.

      It might seem trivial, but when you need them for something serious, you’ve already got a rapport of sorts. It gives Petworth a small-town vibe, and I like it.

  • I think OP should mind his/her own business, continue to be on the alert for trouble and use a cell to call 911. The police have tough enough jobs; I wouldn’t deny them water or lunch together. This issue is petty.

  • I live just down the street and I couldn’t be happier that they are there.

  • Yes! does indeed contract to have an off-duty cop in the store (as many stores in DC do, including the Adams Morgan Harris Teeter), so you’ll always see one there.

    I think using a local business as a substation is great, especially when it’s in the middle of their patrol area.

    If you think they’re hanging out there too long, go to the neighborhood PSA meeting (held monthly) and tell the Lt that you don’t approve – though I suspect you won’t find many other people in the room agreeing with you.

  • I don’t really see the problem with this… there’s no indication that they’re there all day, every-day, is there? Perhaps they were off-duty, or on a break, or waiting for a call, or talking about a case, who knows.

  • This would be fine if it didn’t take someone 3 hours to show up to take a report on an attempted theft of a bicycle from my house. Thankfully the neighbor and I caught it before he got away, but where were the police for 3 hours after we called it in? Why aren’t they patrolling the alleys for these hoodlums stealing things out of people’s fenced yards? Everything is ok in moderation, but when it interferes with doing your job in a way that makes your constituents feel safe, then you have an issue.

    • Exactly. Try having to wait in your car for 2 hours because your house was broken into and you have no idea if the burglarers are still in there and if they’re armed.

      • You may have two different issues –Office of Combined Communications (I think that’s what they’re called) vs. the flatfoots setting priority.

        However “bike theft” is practically a non-emergency call.

  • What a ridiculous e-mail. If 6 cops are in a store at one time who’s being harmed? If the cops are spending all day shopping for organic vegetables, then that’s a problem. The OP needs to relax and spend more time on issues that matter. Thankfully today’s a slow news day – no shootings, beatings or stabbings. I’ll take stories of police in Yes! any day over that. Of course, if the OP has a financial stake in Yes! I say, well done on the free advertising.

    • I’m the one who posted above about cops always being at the Dunkin Donuts. It’s embarassing when I have out-of-town visitors who think we live in a high-crime area when they see 5-10 cops standing around in some store. They are not just stopping in for an iced latte– they are in there ALL THE TIME. Furthermore, their constant presence could hardly be helping the owners of these businesses.

      • After all, the cops primary objective is to make sure you dont feel embarrassed. I’d be more embarrassed of your friends who think that because there are a bunch of black people around its a high crime area.

  • There are lots of times I go in there and don’t see any cops, so this isn’t a normal occurence. Isn’t it their job to visit local stores and maintain a presence? Especially centrally located busy ones like grocery stores? This post is pointing out a good situation. And by the way, they may be in good shape but the bike cops aren’t RoboCop, it’s not like they can pedal, pedal, pedal their whole shift without stopping.

  • Part of preventive policing is just having the police being seen around. Who knows how long they were there, maybe it’s not an issue…but if they are all hanging out there for a long time, instead of being seen around the area, then that is a problem.

    I’ve never been a police office, but in almost every position I’ve worked that’s not a desk job – people take staggered breaks. You don’t all go on break together, even if it’s fun, because someone needs to be working.

    When I’ve stayed in other neighborhoods, the contrast is striking – you do see police cars just up and down the streets in other neighborhoods, and I notice that much less in Petworth. No, it is not a clear correlation where the officer is going to jump out of the car and stop a crime, but just being seen around is part of the idea of how policing works.

    Again – if they were there 10 minutes, that’s cool. But no, police shouldn’t be regularly hanging out all together for extended periods in upscale businesses that serve predominantly richer customers in DC.

  • 4D Headquarters is right across Georgia Avenue from Yes, so it makes sense that you’d see several of them at once. Just like you might see a bunch of people from your office in a nearby food establishment.

    • They’re about a mile and a half apart.

    • Prince Of Petworth

      4D hq is not close to this store.

    • I wouldn’t see a bunch of people from my office in a nearby food establishment – we can’t all go at once, because someone needs to hang around and do the work while the others are on break. This might not be the case with every job, but I’m pretty sure police aren’t all supposed to go on lunch at the same time! We’d probably notice and complain if waiters did it, right?

    • there is a church across the street, not 4D.

    • Okay, so I’m wrong that it’s 4D headquarters but is that not a police station on Shepherd at Georgia, across from Yes?

  • So the letter writer hid behind someone and secretly snapped a picture and then ran home to write to PoP rather than just introducing himself to the officers and politely starting a discussion about his concern. there probably is a reasonable explanation as to why the cops were there, but rather than engage and get to know the people who have to keep us safe i guess he/she felt it easier to just whine and speculate about it from the safety of the internet. Myopic indeed.

    • Yeah, I’m sure the cops would be really receptive. These are the same cops that ignore you when politly ask what happened at a stable crime scene (i.e one that is no longer an emergency).

  • One time I saw a cop at the 7-11 buying some coffee. Should I be concerned about this?

  • jim_ed

    The cops do the same thing at the 7-11 at South Capitol and M Street SW. I’m a big fan, because that sevvie can get pretty sketchy late at night. But what I’ve noticed is it always seems to be Capitol PD mixing with housing police and MPD. I like to think they compare crib notes on issues while hanging out, makes for good show of force and beter inter-force cooperation.

    I’d rather they hang out there than at the station house.

  • From what the OP wrote it seems like his/her whole stop took around 10 minutes – so no break/lunch abuse going on. Could they just be coming on/off shift? It’s a great time for the officers to share information and improve overall performance.
    Next time engage the officers in some discussion and you can save yourself from that painful jump to conjecture.

    I’m not being snarky but I think that MPD is the best functioning branch of DC government and probably have one of the more frustrating jobs (see suspects being arrested and then released by Prosecutor’s office).

    • “Next time engage the officers in some discussion and you can save yourself from that painful jump to conjecture.”

      Ha, yes, and end up in jail for questioning a police officer. Bad advice!

  • Prince Of Petworth

    Hahaha, it’s ok to have a discussion.

  • andy

    I think many DC businesses are happy to have cops stop by. I expect that the cops are not just spending their shifts at the Yes! and are going to continue to patrol as appropriate.

  • While everyone’s jumping down this person’s throat, I’m going to say that I’m in Yes! at least 4 times a week — it’s about a block from my house — and there are always at least 3, usually more, police officers hanging out in there.

    It’s nice to see police officers in the neighborhood, and I don’t begrudge them air conditioning breaks, for sure, but I certainly don’t see them wandering around the rest of the neighborhood as much. And I’m one of those folks who has called 911 before to not get a response. So yeah, it concerns me too.

    I may be biased, however, because oh, more than five, less than 10 years ago, I used to work in an all night DC establishment frequented by police officers. Often, there’d be a dozen of them loitering, eating for free. That’s not exactly protecting the neighborhood.

    • You should totally ask them if they’re on the clock. They appreciate that kind of inquiry.

      • See, this is why I think the OP’s complaint is valid. These cops could just be taking a break, but it sounds like they might be in there all day, which would have a negative impact on our community. However, unlike with the guy who tied his barking dog up in front of the store, the OP can’t just confront the culprit directly.

        • bfinpetworth

          Well, that is pretty funny, because I AM the same OP! And yes, I’m a busybody. Go figure. Why the differing approach? I guess I evaluate each situation individually about what the best approach is. Tuesday night, I didn’t want to interrupt their conversation, but I was concerned with the number gathered there (and I was there for about 20 minutes) and also with the number of times I’ve been in there and found 3 – 4 officers hanging out.

          I live on a block about 5 blocks away that has some issues and I’ve asked for greater police presence, including speed monitoring, and have seen no improvement. So I am concerned. What’s more, I have NEVER seen a bike patrol in my area, despite the fact that the city assures me that they maintain a heavy bike presence in Petworth. I also had a very nice set of furniture stolen off my back deck with an enclosed back yard in broad daylight a few weeks ago. So the fact that four bikes are in the Yes market is a concern. I did not jump to conclusions, and I don’t know how long they were there. But I do think it is worth asking the question.

  • it doesn’t take much to get you people riled up, does it?

    every time i go to Yes! (which is often) i see a bunch of cops either standing outside bantering or standing inside bantering. most of the time, they seem to be enjoying themselves. while i don’t spend too much time reflecting on it, my immediate thoughts have also been that there may be other things to attend to in the city.

    give OP a break.

  • There is a cop who hangs out in an Adams Morgan bar smoking a hookah too, in uniform. If he’s on duty, fuck that guy.

  • Cops in New Orleans would spend down time in coffee shops or strip clubs. I got to know the coffee ones very well where I worked. These men & women risk their lives every day at work.  Additionally, the abuse is heaped on them from: physical (getting chunks bitten out of their ears or having a digit bitten off their finger); verbal; constant pissing & vomitting in their squad cars;  and basically spending your life with the most dsyfuctional, horrific and depressing human beings.  All this for a substandard salary.  I say let them rest as long as they want wherever even in strip clubs. 

  • One of them could be working ‘private duty’ which is when police work security on their own time but using Department equipment. The ability to do this is often used as a way to supplement officer pay.

    Or they could be on break (if it’s a swing shift of some sort, 6pm may well be their lunch hour) or they could be just coming off shift or killing time until a shift starts.

  • Keep in mind MPD has a ton of specialized units that work citywide and are no regulated to work a certain beat or PSA. Units like NSID, K9, SOD, Crime Scene, Tactical units, and Liasion units do not perform proactive policing and wait for calls for service to respond. In the meantime, they may get together to catch up.

  • Good to see police in shops, we never see them in ours let alone in our town, Petworth UK.
    It allows people to come into contact with their local police and vice versa, helps to forge good community relations.

  • Ooops…. I think I just slipped in the OP’s spilt milk…

    Give me a break.

  • I saw cops gathering and eating at Sala Thai too…the new one on the corner of NH/Sherman and Georgia. I’ve seen them there and at Yes! market. While it is notable and interesting, it never occurred to me that it was a bad thing. I SERIOUSLY doubt they are goofing off all day. Instead, it’s like they enjoy all the change, they enjoy the changing and up and coming neighborhood where they do their beat (or however you would phrase that). So far, this is good, good, good. Let the bad guys see that the cops like this area…will make them think twice about messing it up.

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