SWAT team in Brightwood Park this Morning

via google maps

“Dear PoPville,

This morning we discovered what looked to be a four-car team of FBI agents and Maryland sheriffs hanging out on our block (7th and Madison), not at all inconspicuously.

At around 6:15 we left the house for a run and there were two unmarked cars, parked and idling, facing east on Madison. Both cars had one guy in them, and at least one had Maryland plates. Both guys had vests on, one said Sheriff, I couldn’t see the other as well.

When we left for work at 7:15, the cars were still there plus two vans, one on 7th and one on Madison. The guys in one van were wearing full camo tactical gear (helmet included) looking more like soldiers than cops. Just hanging out, obviously waiting for something/someone. I didn’t take pictures for fear of pissing them off.

Our best guess is that it’s some kind of fugitive/bail jump situation, give the FBI involvement and MD plates–there was no visible MPD presence in the immediate area. I’m just curious if anyone else has reported something similar in the neighborhood or elsewhere or knows what they might have been up to. Obviously there was some kind of jurisdictional issue. This is probably unrelated, but this is just two blocks from where that house was shot last week.

Optimistically, I guess our house is on the safest block in DC today? But it was a bit unnerving.”

58 Comment

  • Who was it that posted SWAT isn’t used for domestic crime issues 2 days ago? Good to see the city finally stepping up with LEGAL enforcement in the area. It’s long overdue. It also serves to discourage petty crime and loitering if applied properly.

  • you went for a run at 6:15 and were able to leave your house by 7:15 for work?

    the SWAT team mighta been scoping you out for recruitment.

    • Haha. Yeah, that stuck out to me as well. Doesn’t take me long at all to get ready in the morning, but that is darn impressive!

  • The SWAT team and police were still there at 8:45 am when we drove by with our kids on the way to summer camp. (That was fun to explain.) If there is anything more that folks know about why such a concentration of a “show” of force was needed that would be great.

  • I took photos. And a brief video. Went to carry my infant son to the car and was met with the sight of Full Metal Jacket over there, half a block away. Overkill much?! Nothing like facing 3-4 automatic rifle-carrying GI-looking dudes with your baby in your arms. Good grief. Police militarization is absolutely ridiculous.

    • How do you know it’s “ridiculous”? For all you know they are there to apprehend an armed fugitive. Would you be happier if the police put their own lives in jeopardy to satisfy your sensibilities? I hope not.

      • It’s not ridiculous for them to do their jobs sanely and in a measured manner. Showing up looking like we’re in Fallujah is a bit overkill. This is a sleepy block full of friendly neighbors. Is everyone a saint? No. But the showy display of military gear and fire power was not called for. Folks were sitting on their porches with their kids right next door. You think the authorities were as concerned for their well-being? No. They were putting on a show with big guns. It was an act of intimidation, period.

        • you sound ridiculous. “It was an act of intimidation, period.” Oh yea, you asked them? How do you know that they’re not staking out a home that is armed with serious artillery or some wacko cooking something in the basement? Right. You have no idea. Let them do their job, explain to your BABY (who I’m sure doesn’t understand at a baby age) that things happen, and move on with your day.

          • Sorry, do you live on this block? Do you engage with me and my neighbors on a daily basis? Because if you don’t then you have no context to back up your statements. So you can stop now. Move on with your day since this is probably not your street to begin with. You’re entitled to your authority-worship opinion. I’m entitled to expect better, more responsible behavior from law enforcement. If the situation was so dangerous, why not warn those who live closest to it? Why not evacuate the area? Why not order me back inside my house when I attempted to leave? Because it either wasn’t a dangerous situation or they had no regard for the lives who live nearby. Either way, that seems like a reckless (at best) way to conduct this particular operation. It leaves me questioning the motives of those who made the decision to come in all suited up for war.

          • It’s hilarious that someone who is complaining about the conduct of the police *without knowing all the facts* is chastising others for commenting on the situation *without all the facts.* Good grief.

        • It might well have been overkill… but you can’t accurately say that it was overkill without knowing what they were there for.

          • They were there on a search warrant, according to a man wearing an FBI vest on the scene. He approached me and my wife and child when we were getting into my car and explained what he could (not much).

          • of course they were there on a search warrant. there not simply allowed to do this at will. you have no idea whether or not this was merited unless you know what the search warrant was for. almost everyone is against arbitrary police militarization, but sometimes they are actually going up against armed and dangerous criminals, believe it or not.

        • there’s also a surplus it seems with all the accutrement… the outfits, etc… surplus has to go somewhere..

        • Given the number of shootings around that area it seems completely reasonable. Weren’t 65 rounds fired just a few blocks away the other week? And there was that incident where somebody fired a tec-9 in an alley?
          Don’t get your hopes up that this will help anything. There was a raid on another house in Petworth a few months back and nothing on that block seems to have changed one bit.

        • HaileUnlikely

          I do not live on your block but have had similar stuff go down on a block where I used to live (on 14th a little north of Missouri) while I was home. I suspect that they indeed intend to intimidate *the occupants of the house where they were executing the search warrant.* And honestly, I’m ok with that (executing a search warrant is a dangerous f*cking job.) If they also had the effect of intimidating others besides the occupants of the house that they were searching, that is most unfortunate, probably unintentional, but possibly inevitable.

      • Greg wants them to put on their happy faces and go after armed fugitives. That’s all you need- a smile and a kind word to deal with dangerous criminals. haha! Seriously, though, I suspect Greg is not familiar with either the FBI or law enforcement and the kinds of stuff they have to do (and I say that in the kindest way possible). It’s ok- you can act outraged and upset- just let the guys do their job, though.

        • no one kept them from doing their jobs. i’m not saying they need to act like Mormons when approaching a situation that calls for professionalism and proper training. i’m just saying that I believe they could have done their job without the grand show of muscle and implied intimidation. the military gear was unnecessary. and if it WAS necessary, why did they not show more concern for the well-being of the people who live nearby? but your simplistic and ANONYMOUS point is very enlightening. thanks.

          • I like that you know exactly what they do and don’t need to do their job, without knowing what they were dealing with, and thus what their job actually is.

          • Greg, how long have you worked as a member of the SWAT team? I ask because you seem to know an awful lot about when certain tactics are or are not warranted, as well as how SWAT members should handle an as-of-yet unknown situation. How do you personally conduct raids and apprehend armed criminals without the use of protective gear or firearms?

          • Greg,

            1. Is “Greg” that much more transparent than “anonymous”?
            2. Your comment implies that Mormons aren’t professional or properly trained. Nice.

          • HaileUnlikely

            Actually, if you re-read that, I think he was saying that Mormons are very professional and well-trained. I’ll vouch for the professionalism and evidence of training of the Mormon missionaries who show up at my door every once in a while. They have not managed to convert me yet, but they present themselves quite nicely and put a good face on what they stand for. I think that was his point RE Mormons.

    • While I completely agree with your last statement and I’m very critical of American policing in general, there are absolutely still specific dangerous situations that call for responses like this. The problem in many places is using these capabilities in completely inappropriate ways, like serving warrants for non-violent, sometimes even misdemeanor crimes, or making it the default response to any sort of demonstration. I truly appreciate how much restraint MPD seems to show in maintaining a community police presence and not an armed occupation.

  • It also could’ve been the U.S. Marshals Fugitive Task Force- they draw from a number of agencies which would explain the sheriffs there.

  • It was also interesting to see how concerned the authorities were for their own safety – vests, helmets, fire power – but not at all concerned for the folks who live on that block, hanging out on their porches next door, lingering on the sidewalks right outside… The image that projects in not one of confidence in law enforcement. It’s oppressive police-state imagery. Especially in neighborhoods where a large population of working-class people of color live. It’s oppressive. Made me feel gross and angry, personally. And not at all safe.

    • Well, if you didn’t live among criminals, they wouldn’t have to do this. However, you do, so this is what happens from time to time. That’s life. If it makes you feel better, they have also been known to do this in very affluent communities (you’ll have to trust me on that, kid).

    • More idle speculation. For all you know they were there to protect the people on tha block. Maybe they are removing an armed suapect, or dismantling a drug lab, or removing weapons from the streets. And why shouldn’t they use helmets, vests, and firepower to do these things? Do you think the neighborhood would be safer if the police allowed the criminals to operate with impunity in the name of avoiding making some people uncomfortable? You are trying really hard to be outraged about something without any useful facts.

      • if the situation was a dangerous one, is it wrong to expect law enforcement to serve and protect those in proximity to the danger? I’m dubious because they made no attempts to prevent harm to those living nearby but they were suited up for war. is it not the job of law enforcement to serve AND PROTECT? They appeared to be protecting themselves and no one else. that’s my only beef.

        • key word here is “appeared”. did you or any of your neighbors get shot? If not, seems like their threat assessment was spot on.

          • Well, that’s about as specious as it can get.
            Hey, I have this rock in my pocket. It is a magic rock that protects me from tigers. How do I know it works? Well, as long as I’ve been carrying it, I’ve never been attacked by a tiger.

    • Look at it this way: if whatever they’re out for is successful, there’s a good chance you *will* feel safer tomorrow or next week, because a suspected criminal who warranted that kind of response is off your block. Also, I’m no rah-rah-go-police-state guy, but a tactical team would surely clear the block quickly at the moment they anticipated any danger to all those folks on the front porch or out for a stroll. I don’t want to walk past an MRAP on my way to the metro either, but there are occasions in law enforcement that legitimately call for vests, helmets, and rifles.

      • i don’t doubt that there are indeed legitimate reasons to gear up like that. i’m not a pollyanna. but knowing my community and the block where i live and seeing folks just hanging out like normal while the authorities are kitted out to the nines just feels a little off and heavy-handed.

    • What the hell? People complain nothing is getting done, then when someone arrested they complain about something being done. I can see why the police get annoyed. As a Petworth resident I fully support more police involvement in the neighborhood.

      • i don’t think anyone was actually arrested.

        • Well in that case I guess you would prefer law enforcement put their life in the hands of someone with a tec-9 when they execute a search warrant?
          It sounds like this all went down perfectly fine. There’s nothing for you to complain about it here.

  • I’m sorry that this shocked you, but I guess I’m wondering how you would have preferred it go? The reason they use tactical teams (helmets, long guns, etc) is because they’re more highly trained than regular officers, so from a liability standpoint its better when they make entries.

    Given the fact that they were just hanging out, I’m guessing they were waiting on a search warrant. If they were executing an arrest warrant it would have happened earlier and they would have gotten in and out. They also might have cleared the houses adjacent to the suspect’s if there was a good chance they were armed.

    • The houses next door were not cleared. Adults and children were out on their porches right next door and many folks were standing on the sidewalk right outside. If no danger was evident, I don’t understand the need to continue carrying weapons and “patrolling” the street out front. It looked like it was just for show to me.

      • I’m with you that walking the streets like that is a little frightening, and I wasn’t up there to see that part of it. As I said below–my thing is mostly, WHY the camo? Somehow (and this will probably be controversial) that seems more aggressive than just the guns + regular black SWAT gear. Also, we are very new to the neighborhood would love to meet some more neighbors!

      • I think you summed up all of your comments pretty well with “I don’t understand.”
        You don’t understand. But you don’t hesitate to question and criticize. Often times the reason police go into a situation with what appears to be overwhelming force is for the very reason you stated – “just for show.” Not to show you, the neighbors, but to show the criminals they are after that there is no way out of the situation. The reason they have all those weapons is to make it less likely that any of them will need to be fired.
        Look at it from a dangerous felon’s perspective. A few cops show up in regular uniforms to serve a warrant? The criminals see a way out and are more likely to start shooting – and to put you and your family in danger. A team of tactical officers show up in swat gear with long guns to serve a warrant? The criminals know they aren’t getting away, so they aren’t likely to try and shoot their way out. Sometimes what seems excessive to you is done for a reason – and is meant to protect you.

  • Police everywhere in this country have been militarized in the last decade. There have been lots of articles about it. The protective stuff isn’t the problem – the firepower is. They have tanks now, too. And the training to see people as military targets. There is a lot of federal money paying for it. The next decades are going to be really interesting in this country, and not in a good way.

  • Greg,

    They were probably just staging there while they waited for word to serve the warrant in another area.


  • This entire comment thread is infuriating.

    Police may be militarizing, but so are the criminals. Headlines this week are all about those a**holes James Holmes and Dylan Roof, not to mention the hundreds of comments posted all month in outrage, OUTRAGE, that Lanier, Bowser, Nadeau, aren’t doing enough to combat crime and bust up drug houses.

    SWAT is expensive to deploy. They wouldn’t be involved unless there was a real threat. I’m going to go out on a limb and say they received more training than you, greg, on how to safely enforce the law. Sorry they carry scary looking guns, but at least they know how to use them, unlike the thugs they’re trying to protect us from. If I were them I’d want to make sure my guns were better than the thugs I’m up against, and that I have all the body armor I can carry.

    Give me a break. Props to the cops.

    • Scrillin

      Hahaha yeah SWAT is so expensive to deploy that the rate of SWAT deployments is up like 5000% in the past 20 years.

  • I’m the OP. I am generally in agreement with those who say that this is an example of law enforcement doing their jobs (in this case, the FBI et al, not MPD) and I didn’t mean for my email to POPville to sound like a complaint.

    However, I also think some of the commenters who are missing part of the point in their dismissal of those commenting on militarization of police. Perception is important. Why weren’t the guys I saw wearing the regular black FBI SWAT gear that I am more familiar with–why the camo?? It’s the city, that seemed just out of place and yes, a little intimidating. Also, I wasn’t up there when they were out walking around.

    I’m curious about what ended up going down. If the show of force resulted in a non-event arrest, then yeah I guess that means it got the job done.

    • Camo is pretty funny. Otherwise this seems pretty reasonable. We’re talking about a neighborhood that regularly experiences gun fights. They’re not going to march in there like it’s f-cking Mayberry.

    • Hi — I live at 7th and Longfellow and the ATF was at our block a few weeks ago. They busted down a guys door, and when we (maybe stupidly) looked out of the window, we saw guys with bulletproof vests on in the street with the hands on their pistols, and men in the back with automatic weapons. Never found out what happened.

  • Note: most of this comment is not geared toward the OP. We complain when they do, we complain when they don’t. It’s the American way. I, for one, would have welcomed this show of force up on Rittenhouse at 6:00pm last night when bullets were flying. But they can’t be everywhere all the time. So, if they had reason to be down on Madison this morning, good on ’em. Hope they got who they were looking for, and there’s one less criminal out of the neighborhood. Also, for those of you who wanted them to go door to door “clearing the area,” ya’ll are probably the same people who would cry foul if they told you to stay inside. “No, this is MY neighborhood. I have rights!” Can we not just let them do their jobs? And for the record, I too am skeptical of how our police force is being trained, equipped, etc. lately. But I certainly don’t have any better ideas about how to stop this uptick in crime. I just want to play with my dog in the evenings and sit on my back patio without having someone jump my neighbor’s fence trying to get away from the bullets flying two blocks up. Yeah, that happened last night. Don’t know if it was the shooter or the shootee, but he certainly wasn’t sticking around to let us know which one he was.

    • I’m with you. Obviously there was a reason for them to be there–and thanks to this thread I now know that it was a search warrant–I mostly just emailed because I was curious to know what was up.

      Of course, these guys don’t really count as an increased police presence, given that this was the FBI/others executing a specific warrant. In addition to these guys being able to do what they need to do (but preferably sans desert camo), there is probably a need for just general greater police presence in problem areas near here and elsewhere in the city.

    • Hi Brightwoodess,
      I heard those bullets when I was walking my dog last night after work. It was definitely unnerving. What is going on in our neighborhood? It’s crazy! Do you have any info on the gunshots? I saw some police driving around after but never heard anything about it. ..

      • It was in the alley next to the 500 block of Rittenhouse, the one halfway btw 5th and 7th street. I think more toward Sheridan St. Cops said no one was hit. About 5-7 shots fired. They were in the process of collecting casings when a neighbor stopped by to talk to us and show us the photos from his house. No one mentioned it on the listservs or anywhere else. I witnessed two guys, presumably fleeing a few blocks south. But that’s as far as my knowledge goes. The National Night Out gathering is up at the Takoma Rec. Center tonight from 5-9pm. I recommend everyone in Ward 4 attend and talk to the local police and other authorities who will be there.

        • Very scary! I am a few blocks to your south, Brightwoodess. I was not home last night, but my BF was on our porch when the shooting at Missouri occurred last week and heard all the commotion. This all makes me very sad. I love Brightwood!

        • Yikes, I had just passed that alley and was crossing 5th near the school when I heard the shots. I counted 7. I’m glad at least no one was hurt. I love Brightwood too. It’s a great community, and though I’ve only lived here a few years, I’ve never seen this type of activity.

  • I left my house at 6:50am and saw two people handcuffed (black men and blck women) rigth accross from the apartment building on longfellow between 9th and Georgia.

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