“There were always drug dealers, but they have gotten more bold.”

Photo by PoPville flickr user Phil

“Dear PoPville,

Drug dealers hang out on Rock Creek Church Rd, across from the Georgia Ave Metro between Georgia Ave and 8th. It’s gotten really out of hand. They will sit on anyone’s front steps at any time of day or night and hang out, apparently waiting on buyers to meet them to exchange goods. I have had to say “excuse me” to young men sitting on my steps just so I can get into my house. When they know they’ve been seen, they will move, but just to another stoop. And they are often loud, carrying on conversations to the point that I have to close my window to sleep at night. It’s been getting worse in the past month. I have even had packages delivered to my house, stolen from my front steps. I have lived here for over a year and never had these issues until recently. There were always drug dealers, but they have gotten more bold.

I have alerted the cops to the issue of stolen packages, but nothing gets done. I want to know what else can be done. Are other folks having problems with this?”

83 Comment

  • If someone is sitting on your front porch you ask them to move. If they don’t, call the police. If you see drug dealing with your own eyes you should also call the police. The police can’t do anything if they don’t know about it. You can reach out to your district’s police officers directly. I cannot imagine having to say excuse me to someone to get in my own house!!!

    • Sorry, but seeing it with “your own eyes” is not a high enough bar for most crime in the city; MPD can’t do anything about most misdemeanors unless they see it with “their” own eyes. Record it and show it to the police. We’re so quick to record them arresting people, why not turn the cameras on all the crime we complain about?

  • I care far less about the selling than the active drug use boldly out in public, understanding of course those go hand in hand. My neighborhood smells like marijuana pretty much all the time. People smoke it walking down the street all the time. People put out blunts at the bus stop to get on the bus all the time.

    I’m all for legalizing it for personal use in your own home, but jesus, I am tired of smelling it everywhere. And I’m tired of trying to keep my dog from picking up the packets of spice (synthetic marijuana) left all over the ground everywhere.

    I’m tired of a lot of things that relate to drugs in this city. It’s really difficult to not fall into the let’s keep everything illegal mindset that I generally hate when you look around and see how useless the people doing it in public all the time seem to be.

    • I’m always amazed that people get on the Metro during the 7:45am weekday rush absolutely reeking of pot. They don’t look homeless but also don’t look like they are heading to work. If they think that no one notices they are sorely mistaken. It makes me pretty upset knowing that such a huge portion of the DC budget goes to supporting people who don’t seem to care about getting a job.

    • I’m fairly certain these folks don’t care if it’s illegal. It’s still illegal to use marijuana in public. Personally, I’m much more concerned about discarded chicken bones than I am about catching a whiff of weed.

    • To just distinguish what I’m saying from what Anonymous is saying – I am not assuming people are or not employed who are smoking up. I know plenty of people who smoke up before work. Some, it seems evident without having to really make assumptions that they aren’t employed, but I have no doubt plenty of others getting on the bus are heading to work. It’s the ones at the bus stop not getting on the bus that are smoking up that seem pretty useless. So I am not making assumptions about one’s employment status. It’s just the brazen disregard for the fact it’s completely illegal (whether you agree or not) to smoke it in public at a bus stop that bothers me. And it’s everywhere in my neighborhood. Like I said, smoke up all day if you want, just save the rest of us from having to smell it everywhere.

      • And for second Anon, to be honest the driving by with loud music blaring irritates me more than the smell of marijuana. The public urination (and lingering smell of it) around also irritates me more. Public littering around the neighborhood (including as you note chicken bones) irritates me more. Plenty of things irritate me more. But since this post was about open drug use/selling, I stuck to that topic. A lot of it frankly goes hand in hand. And I’m sorry, but it isn’t about gentrification either. I know plenty of my neighbors who have lived around here for decades don’t like any of these things either.

        • HaileUnlikely

          Agreed. I knew an elderly African American woman who lived on Rock Creek Church Rd for more than 50 years and refused to go out at night for the last ~20 years of her life for fear of the drug dealers (she passed away a few years ago).

        • I play loud music out of my convertible just for you, Bloomerdale; just for you.

          Drug dealing does not go “hand in hand” with loud music.

          • “A lot of it frankly goes hand in hand” is not the same thing as saying, “All of these things go hand in hand.”

  • While the drug dealers and the package thieves are both bad, who says they’re the same person? Do you have evidence? Package thefts have increased city-wide, as far as I can tell.

    • Never said they were the same person, for the record.

      • Understood. But the lead-in was that you have a drug-dealer-on-your-stoop problem and suddenly your packages are going missing. While it very well could be the same group, I’d be wary of making connections between the two issues. I’d highly recommend you rent near Georgetown/Cleveland Park/etc. if you don’t want to deal with the drug deals but package thefts and smashed car windows are still par for the course.

        • For what it’s worth, I feel like most (all?) of the package thefts and smashed car windows we hear about on PoPville are east of Rock Creek Park. Not saying they never happen west of the park, but they seem to be a much more common occurrence east of the park.

  • My first house was on a block like this. I re-prioritized my renovation plans and installed a sprinkler for the front yard first. Spent about two grand to put the whole thing in. That whole first summer, I just set it to come on every 20 minutes from about 9am (when the guys started hanging out for the day) to about 10pm for about 90 seconds. I deliberately told the guy installing it to set two of them to cover my front steps and the sidewalk in front of my house. When everything was damp all day long, they stopped sitting there! My water bill doubled but I was gleeful to write that check every single month.

  • In general, I feel like the city is sliding back. I was here in the 80s and 90s, and we’re not there yet, but that’s where we are heading if we don’t do something. What the city leadership is trying isn’t working. I don’t think Bowser has been able to pivot from the issues that she thought her term was going to be about to what are the actual issues facing the city.

    • So true. She ran on affordable housing and “all eight wards” and while I support both of those things, I’m far more concerned about crime now. I personally think she tries to throw it under the rug. I talk to enough people who are fed up though that I’m surprised she hasn’t been more aggressive. And I’m talking new and long term residents. Everyone is fed up — especially in Ward 4!

  • I’m not offering any solutions here, just giving my perspective. There is a guy who sometimes sells from my front stoop. He lives next door and sits on my stoop instead of his when it’s shadier (as in less sun…). I always say hello and excuse me and we crack the occasional joke. I feel like if I’m going to have a drug dealer hanging outside all day, I’d much rather have him on my side. And I get my packages delivered to my office.

    • ChenChen

      lol, if you can’t beat em…

    • Fo real. I mean, I get being frustrated by your stuff being stolen or situations that are actually unsafe, but the burden of saying “excuse me” to get past people on your stoop just doesn’t seem that onerous. If you’re chilling on a stoop all day, chances are you’re not getting away with anything I’m super envious of. My life is privileged enough that I don’t really feel the need to begrudge someone a stoop to sit on.

      • I’m guessing that you don’t have people hanging out on your stoop selling drugs. I’ve had that before. It is a total invasion of one’s sanctuary.

      • So you’re saying that enforcement of laws, and therefore the laws themselves, aren’t a priority for you. Interesting stance for a lawyer.

      • My old apartment building is near the zoo. All summer long, people would sit on our narrow small set of stairs that led into our building. These are just tourists and having to say “excuse me” and walk around people every time you wish to enter or leave your home is a nuisance. If they are actual drug dealers it’s even worse because this is where you live, and how can someone feel safe with drug dealers selling from their front steps. You don’t know how a drug dealer will react to someone saying “excuse me” and it is a potential unsafe situation.

  • “I have lived here for over a year and…”

    • “…and this city has gone way down hill.”

    • west_egg

      RIght? Who does this entitled person think s/he is?? Everyone knows six years is the minimum before you’re allowed to have any expectation of law & order in your own neighborhood.

      • Look, crime is unacceptable, but I do think it’s funny when someone waxes nostalgic about how the drug dealers used to be back in the day and is referring to, like, August 2014.

        • west_egg

          Nobody is “waxing nostalgic.” OP made a statement about a recent change and had the gall to quantify what s/he meant by “recent.” You’re just a little too anxious to slam the n00bs is all.

  • I was just laughing with my husband about how blatant the drug dealing is around the Georgia Ave. metro station. You can see drugs and money exchange hands in high traffic and well lit areas (e.g., street corners, in front of businesses, etc.). I wish the police would do something, such as increasing patrols, to try to deter the drug dealing, but I have to imagine it’s unlikely to happen despite the fact that they have a station located only a couple blocks away.

  • A few thoughts: You can ask the guys to move from your steps. When you see dealing, call the cops and report it. If you don’t like the response you’re getting from police, email or call the 4D commander. Attend the 4D MPD and your ANC meetings. Get on the 4D listserv if you are not already. Communicate with Brandon Todd’s office and your ANC if you still aren’t getting anywhere. The uptick in crime in the city has been disturbing, and we need to be vocal about the problem areas with police and elected officials.

    • Ditto to contacting the police, the Fourth District commander, and your ANC rep.
      Depending on which side of the street the OP is on, he/she might be in Ward 1 — Rock Creek Church Road is the border, so the north side is Ward 4 and the south side is Ward 1.

      • I should add that the police district will be the Fourth District no matter what side of Rock Creek Church Road the OP is on.

  • This makes me both mad for all my old neighbors who live around the area, but also glad we moved out of the city and into Arlington. The dealers and the users by my house would annoy me so much! Cigarillo wrappers and trash all over, the stench of pee and pot on my block drove me up the wall when I would think of how much we paid to live there.

    But what infuriated me more were the number of police around that didn’t/couldn’t seem to do anything about it.

    • Would just like to point out that the choice between living in areas of the city that sometimes make you wanna pull your hair out and living in Arlington or some other suburb is a false choice. There are several neighborhoods in DC where you don’t have to shoo drug dealers from your stairs and many of those neighborhoods have converged in price with the hair-pulling-out neighborhoods over the years. I live just east of the park, so not quite in one of the quieter neighborhoods, but I have friends who live off Connecticut Ave who never deal with these issues and haven’t had to give up city living entirely to be in that position.

      • HaileUnlikely

        I agree but find this to be a rather meaningless distinction. There is nothing magical about jurisdictional boundaries. I live in Takoma, a couple blocks south of the border with Silver Spring. The amenities of “city living” that are available to me are available to me by virtue of my proximity to downtown Silver Spring, not my proximity to stuff in DC. Arguably the experience of living near the center of Clarendon or Bethesda or Silver Spring is more that of “city living” than is living where I do or in most of the other neighborhoods that appeal to me (e.g., Shepherd Park, Crestwood, parts of Tenleytown).

      • And what neighborhoods would this be? Homes in the quietest/safest neighborhoods in DC still tend to be over 1 million whereas a home in Arlington/Alexandria/Falls Church seems to be in the same non-million price range as the hair-pulling neighborhoods in DC.

    • I absolutely have to agree. Just recently moved out of the city for similar reasons and back to Arlington! Could not be more happy with our choice.

  • Who is to say that drug dealers are more bold? Maybe they just moved locations so gentrifiers can see them now?

    Also, if you think policing of low-level drug peddlers is going to fix the problem, then you don’t know much about crime or the drug trade.

  • OP, are you a renter or owner? If you’re an owner, you’ll have more options for discouraging this behavior — e.g., trimming foliage to make your porch less of a hiding place, adding a fence, putting a sprinkler on a timer, etc., etc.
    You mention that you’ve reported the stolen packages to the cops — have you reported the drug dealers too? (Especially if you’re seeing the same guys dealing on a regular basis?)

    • I haven’t reported the drug dealers, but did report the packages. I’m a renter, but could definitely trim the bush out front. Thanks for the advice.

      My main issue is the noise. Seems to have quelled for now, but we will see.

  • Drive up through the intersection of Jefferson and 7th at night. It’s lit by floodlights to the point that it seems like broad daylight at 11pm. I don’t have the answer to the problem, but while this one method seems to be working, not sure it can continue for long in this one location and it certainly isn’t the answer for the entire city. Maybe conversations need to shift to income disparity, lack of jobs and affordable housing, etc.? I don’t know but certainly don’t feel well-lead by Bowser’s cohort at this point.

  • OP was your home vacant for a while before you moved in?

    A lot of times vacant homes tend to become community property so to speak and a lot of people hang out on the porch/stoop knowing no one is around. Habits take a while to change, but it does seem to happen.

    When I bought my house (not too far from you), it had been vacant for more than 10 years. It did take a few neighbors some time to get used to people living there again, but no one hangs out on my porch anymore without an invitation.

    And definitely call the police if you see illegal activity. Don’t assume other people are calling. The 911 operators are usually very nice and I have found police response times to non violent crime in the neighborhood to on the whole be quite good (whenever I’ve called for violent crime the response has been nearly instantaneous, but I certainly don’t expect that for low level street dealing).

  • Call the police. Every. Single. Time.

    Eventually they will get the message.

    This cannot be tolerated.

    • We always call the cops, but we rarely see anyone arrested or the problem solved. It’s always excuses. I can’t think of one time they actually followed through with results. We called the cops on the same guy two days in a row while he was in the act of committing a crime and neither time did they arrest him. In fact, he told a neighbor he knew the cops wouldn’t arrest him. They have no fear in my neighborhood.

      • If you and your neighbors take to just sitting on your front porches during the evening hours, they will get uncomfortable and probably leave. It worked for me.

  • Welcome to Ward 4. Don’t expect any help from the mayor or Brandon Todd. They barely acknowledge there is a crime problem and the only solution is a Block Captain Program — which no one even followed up on. Their answer is for us to police ourselves? Are the cops not capable? Nothing ever happens. Nothing changes. It will definitely be my top issue when voting next time! Learned my lesson with the current leadership.

  • This reminds me of a story of a good friend who learned her colors as her mother carefully cleaned the crack needles, left by a prostitute, from the front stoop of their Park Slope Brooklyn (it was the 80’s) brownstone.
    After years of calling the police she was finally adviced (Giuliani came into office) to call 911. everyday.
    The prostitute and pip eventually moved on. I’m not sure if this would work for you now. The trick is a finding a way (while maintaining your safety) to make your block unappealing for that business.

  • i dont understand why we need to call the police. I could easily point out 3-4 drug dealers on 11th street b/c i actually walk the neighborhood and notice the sketch behavior. the cops ignore the drug dealing because they dont actual live in the city and dont really care about it.

  • Unfortunately, calling MPD “every single time” (for a very similar situation in Columbia Heights) has done absolutely nothing. We call 911 with extremely detailed descriptions of real-time drug deals, and typically get zero response. It’s a sea of condoms and chicken bones here, with an open-call crack market directly on 14th street. Now that MPD (we think) finally arrested one of the primary drug dealers on our corner while he was REACHING FOR A GUN WHILE ASSAULTING AN OFFCER, we are powerless to get involved because DC laws protect this individual to the point that we cannot even see his mugshot or the arrest report in order to confirm his identity and draft a Community Impact Statement to USAO. He will probably get a DC jury to nullify everything, and be right back out with a slap on the wrist. Law enforcement in this city is a cruel joke.

    • Same shit on lamont. Drug deals all night, people shouting until 3am every day.

      Never see a fucking cop, and the dealers aren’t even residents.

    • I’ve already decided I am moving back to Maryland. It’s sad because this city has a lot to offer, but it’s not worth having to call the cops to report all the crimes in my neighborhood, then nothing actually gets done. I want to feel safe and comfortable in my home. Doesn’t everyone? Our comfort shouldn’t be at the will of criminals, and the cops who fail to prosecute them, because what? Because they want their numbers to appear lower than Baltimore? Psh.

      • Ally

        You’ve only been here a year (unless I misread), and this has been a particularly bad year for crime in DC. I’ve lived in MD, VA, and DC (mostly in DC) since 1998, and opted to buy a home and raise a child in DC (the latter of which is particularly hard). There’s a lot of good here worth fighting for. And sorry in advance. Feels like a lame rainbow should be shooting over this statement as I write it.

      • HaileUnlikely

        I’m not going to dump on your decision to move out if that’s what you want to do, however, I would point out that some parts of the city are very different from Georgia & Rock Creek Church.

  • Text MPD at 50411 every time you see it. The line was set up for anonymous tips. They may not come out every time, but they’ll know it as a trouble spot and start watching it.

    • MPD used to promote 50411 as though it were a text equivalent for 911, but more recently they’ve announced that now they want it used only for crime-solving tips (for crimes that have already taken place), not for real-time reporting of crimes.

      • I used 50411 last week to report seeing an active break-in across the street; response was almost immediate (~5 mins).

  • Drug dealing on Georgia and Rock Creek Church is bad. These are probably the same teens that used to sit on the northwest corner and did the exchanges in the alley behind the zip cars. Often there was a car further back in the alley with Maryland tags watching the operation. The teens would also sit on my neighbor’s steps. She called the cops all the time but they never came. The whole operation really couldn’t be much more obvious. Don’t think they are worried about the cops. The cops don’t seem worried either. I called a few weeks ago about some teens rummaging through a woman’s purse in an alley and then they started looking in car windows with a flashlight and a metal rod. The 911 dispatcher’s first question was “do any of them have guns?” I said I couldn’t see one and got an abrupt end to the call. Sure enough, I saw three smashed out car windows over the next week on that same street.

    • what if, every time one called to report one of these incidents, one mentioned something about there possibly being a gun present?

  • there are indeed real problems in DC, much more pressing than people smoking weed outside the bus stop. obviously selling hard(er) drugs outside one’s home is unacceptable but I don’t think that calling the police every time is necessarily the right answer, especially how differently MPD polices communities differently.

    • Are people selling weed outside your residence? If so, you can choose not to call the police. However, it’s bothering the OP, and it’s the OP’s prerogative to call the cops about it.

  • For the life of me, I cannot understand why DC police never leave their vehicles – and their vehicles are easy to spot because they always have blue lights on. If you couldn’t see them coming a mile away, maybe the drug dealers would be less brazen.

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