“Armed robbery in front of police station”

“Dear Popville,

While I fully acknowledge that even a strong police force can’t prevent all crime, I do expect the police to have at least some deterrent effect. Which is what makes Friday’s armed robbery directly in front of the 4D headquarters so disturbing. Two men, armed with at least one handgun, were able to rob someone in broad daylight and have not been caught as of the next morning. I live nearby, and can vouch that there are almost always cops sitting in a van in the station parking lot, looking out onto the street. For these criminals to feel no fear of being caught in the act of robbing someone at 4 in the afternoon tells me that there are potentially deep problems within the fourth police district.

When two cars were lit on fire and destroyed right behind this police station last month, I told myself that such a thing could happen only in the dead of night, that it was a one-off event, that I shouldn’t draw any harsh conclusions about the state of the police force. Now, I’m not so sure.

I’m also not sure where to go from here. Is this primarily a morale problem that could be at least partly solved by replacing the 4D commander? Or does this speak to larger, more fundamental issues within the police force that need to be addressed from the top down? As a concerned citizen, where should I focus my attention, and my rage?”

Ed. Note: I’ve found the 4D commander, Wilfredo Manlapaz, to be responsive and overall quite good. Having said that, I feel OP’s frustration.

34 Comment

  • Focus your rage by getting involved. Volunteer, mentor, work in addiction services. Unfortunately the police primarily react to crimes, the assumption that they prevent them is debatable at best. Throwing addicts in jail doesn’t prevent future drug use or related crimes, as one quick example. Also, a friendly reminder that things like lead abatement, education, and social services are more highly correlated with the decline in crime nationwide than the “strength” of any police force.

    • There are people who would disagree with you on the police not having a preventative effect. For one, the whole broken windows theory of policing seemed to work wonders in NYC until it started to be reversed. Today, Baltimore is experiencing historic murder rates (worst since 1972 when the population was bigger in that city) after the police have decided to lay low. Ask an inner city Baltimore resident right now whether a police presence (or lack thereof) has no preventative effect.
      That said, I agree with you that crime is also a big product of a multitude of factors. How you even begin to address them is a herculean task, I think, especially since many of us can’t even agree on what the real problems are.

  • Ugh. This is so frustrating! I do agree, though, that Commander Manlapaz is very responsive and is good overall…. but this is just crazy that these criminals are this brazen to rob someone RIGHT THERE. I feel like there is nowhere safe anymore. Something needs to be done…unfortunately I don’t think anyone knows what.

  • It’s a top down morale and management problem. Under appreciated, over disciplined, poor policies that are all show and no go. You’d be very hard pressed to find an officer with more than 3 months on the street happy at all to be at work. All this combined with the massive anti-police movement has officers afraid to do their job. MPD is for the most part only reactionary and that is because of the policies and practices of the MPD brass. No body is willing to go the extra mile because only the officers that are proactive get hit the hardest. Being lazy is the safest way to keep your job and your life.

    On a side note; I worked with Manlapaz when he was a captain. I think he’s overall a good guy (can’t say the same for other district commanders), he just has to follow the marching orders of the chief.

    • So glad to see MPD officers reading PoP’s crime news! Sad to hear about the morale. Recall kind officer, the thugs have guns (and seemingly lots of them). We don’t! We are counting on you to make our communities safe. Step up and lead from the ranks, whatever it takes to keep our streets, neighborhoods, alleys safe. And while you’re at it, please arrest the thugs shooting guns from motorbikes, just this past week a whole slew of off-road bikes road right by an officer sitting in his cruiser. The guy was totally un-phased, just sat there reading his cell phone. You all can do better than that!

      • The officer not doing anything about the roadbikes is policy. A rank and file policeman is not going to chase after them. If you have a problem, write to your council members and the Mayor- the people who make the laws in which the police have to operate. We have a lot of nonsense going on in the city not because of the police, but because our laws bend over backwards to accommodate all kinds of nonsense (i.e., loitering, roadbikes, etc). Combine it with the lax or nonexistent punishments, and the police are pretty much hamstrung from operating in the way you want them to.

    • A large part of the problem is that you all see an anti-police-brutality movement as being anti-cop.

      • Accountering

        Well, I am much more anti-crime than I am super PC when it comes to the police. Sure, there have a been a few cases, and those officers should be reprimanded/prosecuted, but to persecute every police officer nationwide for the actions of a (small) few, is stupid, and results in an overall less effective police force. Lets remember the problem is criminals, and not the police..

        • The problem isn’t the police, if you’re lucky enough to be white or not-poor. My law-abiding non-white friends are more scared of the cops than they are of any criminal.

        • At least part of the problem is that corrupt policing combined with systemic injustice and mass incarceration only exacerbates crime. Despite the invaluable service they are providing citizens, cops should not be above the law or exempt from accountability, just like anyone else in any other job. Cops have killed over 400 people in the US already this year. 1 in 13 shooting homicides in the US are committed by cops. By contrast, the UK police have killed 0. I don’t see how the desire for better policing is not anti-cop in any way.

          • This. It is ridiculous that we can’t have an honest rational discussion about the rampant police brutality in this country that doesn’t devolve into whining about people being “anti-cop.” Yes, there are good cops out there and yes, I appreciate what they do to keep me safe. But that does not mean that I am OK with giving the bad ones a pass to hurt, mistreat, and kill people of color with impunity.

    • I agree with all of this. If you beat people down enough like we are with the police, they eventually get tired and don’t want to risk their lives or livelihoods when they know they will come under attack from politicians and public alike. Quite frankly, I don’t blame the Baltimore police for taking a much lower profile in that city. They haven’t a friend in the world right now (aside from themselves and the FOP). When I think of people mobbing them now as they try to do their jobs, all I can think is, “Well, if you want less police presence, that’s what you’re going to get. Good luck, folks.”

    • 1) If you’re going to complain about police policies that affect morale, and want things to actually change, you need to start adding specifics, instead of vague complaints. The Popville community has been shown to be very active, but nothing can change unless they know what to take action against.

      2) Right now there is no anti-police movement. There’s an anti-bad police movement. But because most officers are unwilling to speak out against the bad apples in the bunch, and would rather blame the public than themselves, they have no one to blame then themselves if the movement expands.

      • +1

      • HaileUnlikely

        I disagree that there is no anti-police movement. I perceive there to be a substantial straight up anti-police (without modifiers) movement in some communities. You may not be involved with it personally, and you may not know anybody who is, but that does not mean that it does not exist.

        • Such a movement has always existed. Anarchists are a thing. If it is louder and bigger now, it is because of rampant civil-rights violations by cops nationwide.

        • +1. This probably comes down to perceptions, personal feelings, or maybe just outright denial. Who knows. But the major overlapping of anti-police sentiments and the anti-police brutality movement is unmistakable. (Btw, not all of us agree on what defines “police brutality.” There’s an idea that police brutality is widespread, but I’d say murder between and among civilians is a lot more of a problem than an isolated and LEGITIMATE case of police brutality. We hear a lot of protests about the former, but nothing at all about the latter. Looking at the Michael Brown case, you can see how people come to radically different ideas on what transpired there. It would be a mistake to assume people think police brutality is a widespread problem. Some do; a lot don’t.)

    • +1… The police really need public support in order to be effective. They will never go the extra mile if they will end up getting skewered for it.

  • Oh, I forgot; we are way understaffed because everyone is retiring as soon as they are eligible because the department is such a toxic work environment and a lot of the new guys are quitting and going to other departments for the same reason. The city screwed us on a raise in the last round and now realize they can’t hire and retain qualified people. The only thing this place has to offer is money, and they decided not to offer that out of spite for the FOP. Whoops.

    • MPD may be understaffed. But a robbery in such close vicinity to the station is disconcerting. Let’s face it, most jobs are never completely peachy. Pay, vacation, 401K options, too much overtime, not enough overtime. There is always something to be desired.

      But the basics of your job, you have to get done no matter what. A robbery in front of a police station should be as embarrassing to a cop as healthcare.gov not launching if you are a software developer. A police station is too visible for this to happen.

  • I live in the neighborhood, and was really disappointed to see there was a robbery at gunpoint at 8th and Sheridan last Sunday at 8:30 am. Overall I think we have a nice community, and appreciate that neighbors look out for each other. I don’t know if these robberies are people who live here (like that shooting that happened outside CVS a couple of months ago) or outsiders coming in to rob. But it is disturbing.

  • I have serious questions as to whether or not the Fourth District can handle the crime level. I’m not saying it’s the Commander. He seems good at relating to the community, but is he achieving results? The public is fed up with community meetings. We need results. It’s likely more a lack of resources. Not necessarily more beat cops, but the need for more detectives, investigators or a special unit to specifically address the gang/crew issue.
    This robbery in front of the police station tells me that criminals may have no fear of the police. Why is that? I’m beyond frustrated and have almost given up.

    • “This robbery in front of the police station tells me that criminals may have no fear of the police. Why is that?”

      You’ve got a DC cop telling you why in this very comment section. It’s not rocket science.

      You are getting “mugged by reality.” Now, the police are lying low because they know they will be scapegoated if they actually try to protect you and something goes wrong. You have no fall-back position. Checkmate.

      • Hmmm.. by your theory crime just began earlier this year when small pockets of the population began calling for better policing. In reality, the police have benefited from widespread public support and hero worship forever. If that’s all they needed to prevent crime, there never would’ve been any. Just like criticizing your country does not mean you are anti-American, calling for police accountability does not mean you are anti-police.

  • I had a minor fender bender recently. As the other driver and I were discussing the issue with the officer, several “youth” rounded the corner on foot. One (the leader) began rapping a song about killing cops. You may disagree with cops. But there are very few jobs where you have to deal with people that will kill you.

    More recently, I was in Congress Heights. An officer was sitting in his car while 15-20 female “youth” were fighting. I asked the cop why he wouldn’t step in. He told me point blank that he was ordered not to intervene unless someone is getting severely injured. So I asked him, how would he know and couldn’t one punch or kick kill someone? He basically told me orders are orders. So he sat there while the girls fought themselves out.

    • Who is making these policies – let off-road motorcycle gangs run rampant across the city, let youth gangs control blocks and shoot up the place, don’t intervene in large street brawls? Is it the Mayor? The Police Chief? Senior Brass? District Commanders? Sergeants? The City Council? Us? It seems the real MPD policy of tolerating deviant behavior leads to real violent crimes almost every time. Odd they shut down a bar for not reporting one act of customer violence, but they openly admit tolerating real crimes in broad daylight in the middle of our communities.

      • I’ve heard in the past that the policy with the dirt bikes/off road vehicles is to not chase because the people on the bikes would “bait” officers into chases in the past, and it becomes very dangerous to have high speed chases going on all the time.

        Not sure I agree with that, but that is what I’ve heard at MPD meetings in the past.

  • Blaming the cops for the complete lack of control, decency and morals of violent criminals is almost as distressing as the criminal acts themselves. Such foolhardy blindness.

  • I think the answer lies with the city council. Vote the fools out who don’t want to change the laws and get rid of stupid policy to ensure that the police are allowed to actually do their job. The problem is the people who are making these policy’s and the court system who just wants to slap people on the hand who are violent criminals. Tell the city council, by voting out the fools.

  • petworthnews

    According to 4D Commander Manlapaz, this robbery did NOT occur in front of 4D headquarters on Georgia Ave. The incident involved a taxi driver being robbed on 7th and Quackenbos NW, and he drove over to 4D District Headquarters to report the robbery.

    Cmdr. Manlapaz sent an email to the MPD-4D listserv on May 29th:
    “The victim drove his cab to the 4th District Station to report the offense, it occurred at 7th and Quackenbos NW. 4D Cmdr. Wil Manlapaz”

  • Gary, you seem like a smart enough fella’. Do yourself a favor, never cite or quote Rolling Stone as a place of fact to support your argument. Does more harm than good.

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