From the Forum – Getting rid of drug dealers

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Getting rid of drug dealers (Hill East/Atlas/Rosedale):

“I’ve lived just south of Benning Rd in Northeast for almost a year now. I love my neighborhood and my neighbors, with the exception of one building on the street.

My street is made up of 4-unit apartment buildings in the standard 2×2 format with a staircase in the middle. One building seems to exist solely for the distribution of drugs. All hours of the day and night there are drug dealers hanging around this building, very obviously dealing drugs. This brings in many unsavory characters into the neighborhood who are loud, litter, loiter, and often fight with each other.

I’ve talked with my neighbors who hate the presence of the dealers and have described the building as a trap house yet they are unwilling to do anything about it because they don’t know how or think that no one cares about the neighborhood.

Based on the police response I’ve gotten, my neighbors seem to be right. I’ve called in to the police multiple times to complain about the neighbors dealing drugs and being extremely loud (on one occasion, they blasted bass from their car at a level that made my apartment shake). Each time the police just do a slow roll by, never getting out of their cars.

Honestly I wouldn’t have a problem with this situation except it now seems to be getting worse and worse. When I moved in across the street there were only a few guys hanging around at a time, now on any given night there are maybe 20 dudes hanging around this house. They often spread across the street, dealing in front of different buildings (including my own). I’d really like to not have to walk through a drug deal when I get home from work.

I’m wondering if any one has had any experience with this kind of problem and could give me any advice about what to do. My local ANC only referred me to the police, who I mentioned before have given weak/ineffective responses.”

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47 Comment

  • gotryit

    Police VICE officers. Not regular patrol / 911. Get in touch with the vice officers for your district. Get phone numbers, and call them directly.

  • I live in Kingman Park also. I’m assuming you are referring to either the house on the 1500 block of Gales or the house on the 700 block of 16th Street in NE. The house on Gales has been raided countless times by police but it never seems to change anything. I live just past Isherwood and the housing projects on 16th street are also a big area for street dealers.

    I’m not sure what the problem is but considering all of these dealings are being made directly behind Miner Elementary, you would think the police would show a little more aggression/urgency towards it.

    • I also live in Kingman Park just south of Benning, and I was assuming the OP was talking about the small apartment buildings on the 1500 and 1600 blocks of F St NE. Whenever I drive by there I always see what is clearly drug dealing going on the corner of 16th and F.

  • You have my sympathy. I used to live just north of Benning and had a similar issue. Except these guys were standing on the corner of my street all day every day. Sometimes there would only be a few of them and sometimes it would be 10+ guys just hanging around, being loud and harassing residents as they walked by. The neighbors actually became friendly with them mostly because they were scared and wanted “protection.” I kept to myself, but if I noticed the crowd was getting rowdy I’d call the police. They’d roll by and they’d scatter but they’d be back the next day just the same. I ended up moving out of the area because I didn’t feel safe walking anywhere even during the day. I don’t know what ended up happening, but I do know that pretty much that whole block was turned over by developers in the year and a half since I’ve been gone. Sad to say, but I bet it’ll get a lot more attention from police now.

  • Go to your PSA meetings. More importantly, get your neighbors to go. Get contact information for the heads of your PSA. Get your council member involved – get them to come to the PSA meetings. Basically, make a fuss.

  • Yep, commeters are right. You need to get to Vice. They will take care of it, and they will need the help of neighbors to help them do it. Many months from now, it will lead to the U.S. Marshal’s emptying the apartment onto the sidewalk, resulting in a new PoP posting. See if your MPD PSA has monthly community meetings. Ours are sparsely attended, and they are a great way to get all the resources of MPD lined up against a problem. From my experinece, trust me: MPD wants to get them and get them prosecuted.

  • It depends on your PSA, and unfortunately police have become less aggressive under Lanier. But back in the early 2000’s I lived in Bloomingdale, and we had some similar issues. I called the police whenever I saw unsavory characters congregating. Also I did not report them as “loitering” or “smoking weed”. I would always report them as “fighting and arguing”, which would at least garner a police roll by. Reporting that they were trespassing on private property (e.g. if they were drinking on a neighbor’s wall) also seemed to trigger a response sometimes. It’s sad you have to lie to get the police to even move from their all-day parking spots, but there you go.

    • +1. You can’t just say “there’s a bunch of guys in front of my house.” You have to say “there’s a fight on the street and it sounds like someone might get hurt.” Sadly in my case, 9 times out of 10 this wasn’t a lie. However, if there was a situation that made me uneasy- i.e. a bunch of dudes hanging around harassing people- I’d say there was a fight just to get police to come disperse them.

        • Oh, so I should just let 10 drug dealers hang out in front of my house, make lewd comments to me as I walk by and be generally loud and disrespectful to everyone in the neighborhood? I don’t think so. You do what you gotta do to get police to respond to you and in that area, that’s what it took.

          • gotryit

            Lying to the police isn’t the only way to do it.

          • Disrespect, loudness, and lewd comments from “dudes” are not illegal.

          • Actually “dudes,” loudness is illegal when the decibel level reaches a certain limit and when it is bothering local residents. Repeated lewd comments are also illegal since that is called sexual harassment. But I guess you think that’s all okay. You must be a wonderful neighbor.

        • you can -1 it, but i’ve also done this in the past, and it worked.

          • It may have worked, but does it increase the likelihood that when you or one of your neighbors calls for a more serious problem at some point in the future, the more serious call gets dismissed because the police have learned that getting calls about “fights” on your block really means “loudness” that bothers you?

          • ok. but the problems got busted away years ago now.
            conclusion: it worked.

          • gotryit

            Just because it works doesn’t mean it’s the right thing to do.

          • gotryit, doesn’t matter, still worked.

          • gotryit

            you’re either dumb or lack moral understanding

          • gotryit,

            no it doesn’t make it the moral thing to do. but it helped to my neighborhood safer for kids to play outside. i can live with it.

          • what your missing gotryit is that the police show up and don’t just find “loudness” they find people with warrants out on them, they find drugs, they find guns. they don’t stop showing up because they think “fight” means “loudness”.
            your moral indignation is moronic.

  • I live in a different part of the city with a similar problem. I have four sections of my local police on speed dial, and send an email blast when I see stuff like that. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. And of course I don’t know when the undercover police are around.

    Also, not to add a political element to it, but every time I see them hanging out/drinking/dealing drugs/fighting/littering I think, if you’re for the legalization push, you’re also for this mess, since that’s where they get it….

    • I disagree. If pot were completely legal that means stores could sell it and people would no longer have to rely on shady characters hanging on the street corner. A lot of their business would be lost and I think it would actually help clean up a lot of the problems people are referring to in this thread.

  • We had a similar problem at the apartment building across the street from our house. It started up after a police officer who lived in the building (with his very visible police car) moved out. Then the drug dealers started peddling their wares. We’d watch a dealer hop into a car, circle the block and hop out again. And there were a couple of prostitutes in the mix as well.

    The police raided the place a couple of times and it helped for a month or two. Then, finally, they did a serious one-year undercover investigation and really cleaned out the place. Another thing that helped: The Post did an expose on landlords trying to force out tenants so they could convert their apartments into condos. This long-distance landlord took terrible care of his property. The city, under Fenty, took it over, cleaned it up. I think that’s when the serious police investigation of the dealing started.

    Another thing. Neighbors, including us, would complain incessantly to the MPD listserv about the problem, we’d show up at the PSA and ANC meetings. Unfortunately, in this city, he who complains loudest gets the results.

    PS the final coup de grace: The idiot landlord finally realized there is a strong market for rentals for people with pets. Once he brought in pet owners, the apartment building really changed. When all these twenty-something girls started hanging out together on the stoop with their puppies, well, that discouraged, er, commerce.

  • Damn. POP highlighted a very similar request I sent out in a ‘From the Forum’ post about 6 months ago. I live in the same neighborhood on Isherwood St. I would concur with all of the advice you’ve seen here so far. You should also join and post on your PSA Yahoo Group. The police are pretty responsive to that, and it might get you in touch with a detective personally. I’m still dealing with the same issues on our street, but it’s slowly getting better. Some of it is turnover in the rentals (same 2×2 buildings). Some of it is just dudes getting arrested and hauled off. I still have some issues, but I call the police in pretty regularly. The idea is to make it uncomfortable for these guys to be there. A lot of them will move on if they feel like there’s a good chance they’ll get popped. I would agree with a few of the commenters on here that you often need to ‘bend the truth’ to get a response from the police. As I’m sure you know, if they don’t get there within 5 minutes or so, people will walk off, move inside, across the street, etc. Anyway, best of luck to you. We need more people in Rosedale/Kingman Park pushing on these issues!

  • “Blasted bass” sums it up. Sigh.

  • I have called the cops many times because of similar situations in front of my neighbors house/my apartment building to no avail. Besides the constant drug deals in broad daylight, the worst was when people decided to shoot a rap video in front of my bedroom window, pumping base so loud my apartment was shaking, yelling/cheering, and blaring lights (all in the middle of the night on a weeknight). When the police finally arrived (after 3 calls and over an hour), they just stood by and WATCHED AND CLAPPED. After about 15 more minutes the cops finally asked the people to disperse….which they did very very slowly…

    • Ha! Did you see the guys “shooting” a “video” in front on Johnny’s on 14th street the other day? Too funny… bunch of grown men shuffling and muttering to loud recorded music while another one did that up-shot maneuver with his camcorder. Just like 10 year old girls.

  • Are you a member of Congress, Anon 4:14 pm? Cause that’s the only other place I’ve seen people willingly expose such a stunning level of ignorance in a public forum.

  • Post this on the MPD-1D listserv, (The full list of DC police listservs are at The police management are generally quite responsive to this sort of comment.

  • Call your Council person and ask him or her to get involved. I had a bad house on my block a few years ago and called my rep – Jim Graham. His office got a commitment from the police to step up patrols and also got the owner of the property to take steps to change the situation – which in this case was selling the vacant house to someone that was going to live in it.
    One of the things that makes certain police tactics a non-starter in DC is the fact that loitering is not illegal. You can’t arrest someone just for “hanging around.” I think this makes police reluctant to even engage people that are just hanging around, because then it will be called harassment. In my case, I was told that the owner had to swear out a “no trespass” warrant to enable the police to evict anyone on the premises. Even though the property was vacant, the police could not just assume that the people hanging out on it were there without the owner’s approval or invitation.

  • I had this same problem when I moved in my neighborhood almost four years ago. At first I used to call the police and they would just drive through like how you mentioned. Then I tried filling complaints to 311 over the phone and online. Calling 911 or 311 didn’t really help at all. Finally I sent an e-mail to every council member and the mayor complaining about the problem. My council member at the time Harry Thomas Jr. and a few other council members forwarded the email to the police chief and she responded directly. She forwarded my complaint to the lieutenant of my area and we corresponded back and forth. I provided them with solid details and eventually some arrest were made but it was a long process. Now my block is quiet and the dealers are gone. So i suggest emailing your council member or email the police chief directly she will respond.

  • One option would be to work with both MPD *and* OAG’s Nuisance Abatement Unit (, which brings civil action against those involved. It would certainly take longer to solve the problem, but hopefully it would be a permanent solution.

  • Are you in the 5th District? I think these are your LTs:
    Lieutenant Patricia Janifer (202) 396-0162 (202) 698-0264
    Lieutenant Bryant Jeter (202) 615-7109 (202) 698-0276

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