Dear PoPville – New Temporary Drug Free Zone?

Dear PoPville,

I saw an MPD officer putting up these signs along the east side of the 3900 block of Kansas Ave NW. Though I’m happy to see a drug free zone established in the neighborhood (and hopefully enforced!), I’m a little perplexed about the timeframe (1/12-1/31). At first I thought it was odd to be such a short time frame (about 2.5 weeks) but after looking at the MPD website, it seems that Drug Free Zones may only be established for a maximum period of 10 days.

Also with the amount of active drug activity at the corner of 9th and Quincy (including a homicide in October) which happens to be at the back of the Raymond Elementary school, I’m surprised to not see the area expanded one more block to include this area as well. Have you seen these signs put up before? Anyway to get a permanent drug free zone established?

26 Comment

  • As drugs are illegal, the entire city is a permanent drug free zone.

  • Shouldnt there be a permanent drug ban in all of DC? I mean come on, if drugs are not allowed, why have only specific zones where drugs should not be allowed?

  • Nearly all of DC should be a “free drug zone.” The good stuff is just too darned expensive.

    What we really need is very strict policies regarding guns and ammunition, especially in the hands of young men and children. And very tough penalities for career criminal adults who run organized drug operations that utilize underage youth to carry out their dirty deeds.

  • I wonder if this specifically pertains to smoking, rather than curbing heroin use temporarily.

  • It seems that it’s an additional enforcement tool to curb the sale of drugs in a particular area.,a,1238,q,542244,mpdcNav_GID,1541.asp

  • Gee, and all it takes is a sign to keep the drugs out. Could have sworn it was harder than that.

  • Yeah, not sure why it was worth the cost of printing up these posters and hanging them as by law, the entire city is a “drug free zone”. Do we really think that just because someone hung a sign that all of a sudden that the local meth dealer is going to stop selling?

    This is ridiculous

    • I think the signs have to do with there being a sentencing enhancement attached to anyone who gets arrested for drugs in a drug free zone. So it has to be posted. But I could be wrong.

  • C’mon people, have you never heard of a drug free zone? Yes, the entire city is a drug free zone in the sense that drugs are illegal everywhere, but designation as a Drug Free Zone provides the cops with additional enforcement tools to disperse groups who are suspected of dealing. Check out NHAve’s link.

  • Wait, how is this helpful?

    From the MPD website: “If a person or persons are in violation of the Anti-Loitering/Drug Free Zone Act, they will be informed by an officer that they are in a Drug Free Zone. They will then be informed that they should disperse and depart within a reasonable timeframe, clearly specified in minutes, before any arrests are made”

    So, first we’re posting signs alerting criminals that there will be a higher police presence in the area for the next ten days. Then, police will first approach criminals and give them a chance to disperse? I can only assume that the benefit of this law is that it allows them to arrest individuals without actuallly seeing them engage in a drug deal (?), but I’m still unclear why they’d have to post signs about it first?

    • Essentially it is an end-run around DC’s non-existent anti-loitering laws. Residents complain about the corner boys, the MPD puts up the signs, and for a few weeks they can legally run the boys off without violating their rights. The idea being that they’ll set up somewhere less populated/complain-y, and give the cops a bit of a break from resident’s calling 911 because people are smoking pot on the corner. It sort-of works, but I’ve almost always seen them put up in summer, when corners are full of people, rather than the dead of winter, which is off-peak time, so to speak.

    • Allison

      That anti-loitering bit is hilarious, because all the loitering on my block goes on directly beneath a giant “Drug Free Zone” sign.

  • Over the summer and fall MPD enforced a “drug-free zone” on my block in Truxton Circle. I was told it allows them to inhibit loitering, which is not typically illegal in DC. By declaring a drug-free zone, MPD has an otherwise unavailable enforcement tool to move along potential sellers and pushers. That was my understanding, anyways. And on an anecdotal level, I did see fewer people hanging out on the street corner for those 10-day periods.

    • Yes, but it only prohibits loitering or gatherings of 2 or more people who are gathering with the intention of using, selling or distributing illegal drugs. Not sure how this definition is helpful – isn’t it ALWAYS illegal to gather with an intention of using/selling/distributing drugs?

      • Looking at the link provided by NHAve above:

        “Additional circumstances that may be used in determining that a person or group is violating the Anti-Loitering/Drug Free Zone Act would include the following:

        [long list of stuff]
        -Such person has no other apparent lawful reason for congregating in the Drug Free Zone, such as waiting for the bus or being near one’s own residence.”

        That’s a very loose definition. As many others have pointed out it gives the cops greater power than usual to shoo away just about anyone who’s hanging around.

      • It may be illegal, but it IS totally and completely tolerated in DC. Just drive around Oak St and 14th and in the alleys nearby to see it in action all day every day.

  • As to the question about the elementary school, I would be surprised if it were not already a *permanent* drug free zone. They are called (shockingly) drug free school zones. There will be signs on the exterior of the school or within a 1 block radius around the school. I believe the purpose of the zones is aimed more at giving kids a safer place to learn and play, but also increase the fines associated with those who would sell to children or young people.

  • I’m gonna gentrify my neighborhood so hard, the drug dealers are only gonna carry fine hindu kush.

    I’m helping!

    • I did the same thing in my neighborhood. Poor old longtime black residents can’t even afford weed in my hood anymore. All the dealers are catering to the high rollers like myself.

  • This might be a nice idea outside the Petworth metro…it seems that every time I am going to/from the metro or passing by on bike or bus lately I’m seeing blatant deals go down outside the nb Georgia entrance at the corner of New Hampshire and Georgia. Too many cops patrolling inside the metro I suppose…

  • I find signs like these very useful because it lets me know that I’m not in a safe area. Any time a sign says “This is a [insert name of crime here] free area” you should know that particular crime is rampant in the area.

  • Ah drug-free zones…I suppose they’re better than the “4th Amendment-Free Zone” they set up in Trinidad a few years back, with the checkpoints and all that nonsense.

  • I don’t get why you all are some damn daft? We had a dealer in the area dealing from that location. The neighbors banned together, and we’re working with the local police to clean things up in our area. The police are working hard to help us (thank you MPD!). They have rules and regulations. Once they post the sign, if they catch the dealer dealing it increases the time that they can keep him and his crew off of the streets.

    Sit at your computers like daft asses making cynical comments about the system? Get out there an get involved in your communities to make this a better city? Pick.

  • I read one of the signs this morning. The defined zone is a small area. Taylor to Randolph, 14th to GA. All the best to MPD for the strategy to work out for them. I’ll help the MPD by passing along what I see.

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