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Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) Advice on How to Behave During an Armed Robbery/Mugging

Assistant Chief, Patrol Services Bureau, Dianne Groomes

Yesterday we had a lengthy discussion about an armed mugging in Columbia Heights. At that time some people were pontificating about how one ought to behave when facing an armed mugger. Should you fight? Should you run? Should you comply? Should you do something else?

DC is a city filled with very smart residents and many of us consider ourselves experts in a variety of subject matter. As a result we often have really interesting discussions on a wide range of topics. I love the seriousness in which we debate all sorts of subjects – even where to find the best nachos.

However, when it comes to providing advice on how to react to a mugger with a gun in your face – well that’s where I get a bit uncomfortable with self proclaimed experts (myself included) giving advice. Now it is true that there are many in law enforcement circles who read this blog – however we can not tell who the bonafide law enforcement officers are based on a username alone. Actions taken during an armed robbery/mugging may have life or death results. So I started to get a bit uncomfortable with some advice being given. At that point I decided to ask the advice of MPD Assistant Chief, Patrol Services Bureau, Dianne Groomes who has been with MPD for over 20 years.

I asked her a very simple question – how would she advise we behave during an incident like the armed mugging we discussed yesterday? Chief Groomes responded via email:

The best advice is to follow the commands of the robber … we have seen too many times where the victim may refuse or try to fight back but they end up getting pistolwhipped or shot …. I do suggest that one who is approached and asked for phone or wallet – throw it away from your body so you have a chance to be removed from the armed suspects… I would walk away from area away from them as they pick up property.

We are having major robberies where they just jump you or surround you and do the pat down – do not fight back and the best thing is to get the best description so we can end up making an arrest if we stop someone – we find that a vast majority of our victims cannot identify even if we stop individuals that either match the lookout or seen fleeing…. but I do understand it is traumatizing when gun put into your face – the victims always remember the gun…

Preventative measures are what are being listed on our listservs and what others state, be aware of your surroundings, try not to walk in the alleys, if intoxicated take a cab or metro instead of walking around (we have alot of robberies on sidestreets by the clubzones), give up your property, or if you have wallet don’t keep your major credit cards etc in it (or all stuff in wallet) put in different areas – or if you are just walking dog etc don’t carry such… electronics such as cellphones, ipods are items that are being targeted…

This is the advice that I will follow.

Ed. Note: I have many friends and acquaintances who live in Columbia Heights and other neighborhoods where crimes are regularly reported here. Not one of them has been a victim of a violent crime nor mugged at gunpoint (knock wood). Street crime is certainly a real threat but it should be kept in perspective. Definitely be smart and follow the advice of Chief Groomes. But please keep in mind, while street smarts are important, there is no need to constantly be in fear every time you leave the house either. Sometimes the MPD alerts and posts here make it seem like there is nothing but violence and crime in some neighborhoods. Fortunately that is far from the reality of everyday life. It is possible for us to discuss disturbing incidents and hopefully become more aware of our surroundings and at the same time continue to enjoy the beautiful life.

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