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What Went Down at the Yes! Organic Market at 10:15 this Morning

by Prince Of Petworth May 27, 2016 at 1:16 pm 71 Comments

yes organic
Georgia and Taylor St, NW

A reader and witness passed on a note she wrote to Ward 4 Councilman Todd:

“I hate to write this because I have tried to believe that the Ward 4 police are really not as bad as their reputation. I hate to have to agree with what seems to be the common view.

I was picking up milk at Yes! Organic around 10:15 today. While I was there, a guy who has stolen things from them many times (I’ve see the camera images they have) came in and the employees rushed out to catch him. When I went out to see what was going on, the very nice manager had him held down to the ground and some other employees had his legs held down. There was basically no weight being put on him and they were not causing him pain. Despite this, the man kept yelling that he was in pain.

MANY people called 911 MANY times. We were waiting for over TEN MINUTES for the police to finally arrive. When one person called, the dispatcher even said “oh is this the thing at Yes! grocery store” (completely non-interested). It was very scary as a neighbor that it would take this long for police to come, especially to an area a few blocks from the metro where we have had such violence. Was there really no one in the area?

At this point, the manager and the employees were trying to allow the guy to stand up but still keep him at the location. He bolted just as the 1 police car arrived. I was right there, so I pointed to her which way he went. She literally just idled there, waiting at the light with her turn signal on! People were yelling for her to turn on her lights and go after him. She just sat there! She finally turned (still no lights or sirens on). I did see them down the block so they must have caught her. I offered to be a non-employee witness because I was there the whole time- and wanted to make sure that they employees didn’t get charged with anything because of his outrageous claims that they were restraining him. What are citizens to do when the police don’t show? It was not like they wanted to be there with him rather than have the police handle it. The police women gave no care to the situation and was not taking it seriously.

Please follow up on this directly. Our police should be there to protect our peace. Small businesses like Yes! do so much for our community and are always welcoming and kind. They cannot stay in business if people steal from them. The police in our Ward should take these issues seriously.

Ironically, on the way home (just a few blocks away), I saw a police car just cruising down the street, the driver enjoying the day with the windows down and eating cookies. I hate to say it, but I have no faith in the police for Ward 4.”

  • Grant Circle

    Sounds like Yes! needs better cookies.

  • LittleBluePenguin

    Ugh. I know exactly who this OP is referring to, I’ve seen him on two occasions steal stuff, and one time very similar to this where the staff basically locked him in between the doors until the cops arrived, and then the guy fled out the back behind the deli counter area. It was upsetting, because clearly this dude is not all there, but yeah, the people at YES work really hard to maintain a nice store and shouldn’t have to tolerate continued obvious theft. I’m not sure what to make of the situation with the cop, however; on the one hand, this is a recurring issue with one specific individual, and since it’s not like he was holding the store up at gunpoint or being destructive, I can understand not rushing at top speed to go throw the guy out of the store. On the other hand, I can’t imagine how frustrating it is for the people at YES to try to essentially play the role of cop/security officer only to have a disinterested, disengaged officer show up and not give a crap. I don’t know if there is any way the market could get a restraining order against this individual, if that would be at all effective? No idea. But ugh all around.

    • Lt Anthony Washington

      Please see my comment below

    • Rufus

      I witness an incident exactly as OP described about a month ago. Shoplifter detained by several Yes employees. The employees all seemed familiar with the individual. It was actually crazy to see an employee nearly tackle the guy as he fled out the door and three of them restrain him while waiting for the police. I recall thinking they were really going the extra mile for a cashier job. In any case, about 4 or 5 cops arrived within minutes, and they seemed very professional. I was impressed with their handling of the situation. Sorry to hear that OP had a different experience.

    • Northzax

      In DC it’s a ‘barring notice’ for businesses. And it’s not hard to do. I also can’t really believe that YES! wants employees physically restraining people (and yes, I’ve worked retail in DC for fifteen years, I get it) I would never try and physically stop a shoplifter. That’s clearly not in my job discription. I have little desire to get into an altercation for my boss’ stuff. If YES! wants people to do this, they should hire actual security, or build that loss into their business model. You shouldn’t expect a rapid response from the police for a guy stealing broccoli.

      • Millennium

        I will not do what’s minimally expected of me.

        • Northzax

          That’s the point. It’s not expected of me. My job, if I suspect shoplifting is to tell the security guard and then get out of the way. I don’t get paid to confront people, I’m not trained for physical altercations or restraint, I’m not equipped for it, and I’m certainly not insured for and injuries I sustain (save standard health insurance) not do I have liability protection if I injure someone else. My boss doesn’t want me to do it, his boss doesn’t, the owner of the company doesn’t. And even if they did, I still wouldn’t. I have no equity stake. If the company thinks that loss prevention is important enough to confront potential shoplifters (and remember, you’re not shoplifting until you leave the store with something) they can hire someone trained and equipped to do just that. You never know what the shiplifter’s situation is. Will they get violent? Pull a knife or gun? Bite? Have a chronic condition that leads to a major health incident or death? (See DC9 last decade)

          • HaileUnlikely

            I once went after a shoplifter when I was a 16-year-old high school athlete all jacked up on testosterone and being paid minimum wage (~$5/hr at the time and place) to operate a cash register in a crappy grocery store. The guy dropped the case of beer that he was stealing, jumped into a car, and got away. My testosterone/stupidity/valor saved my employer about $12 and earned me a stern warning, the only one I ever got at any job anywhere. Unless you are employed as a bouncer, a security officer, or a professional athlete in a contact sport, I guarantee you your employer not only doesn’t *expect* you to go after people but really, truly, desires for you *not* to.

      • DM

        Yeah, I was surprised too. I worked in retail and there were strategies for engaging a suspected shoplifter. But we were explicitly banned from tackling them because of liability–what if they have a gun, or seriously injure me; is that worth $20 in merchandise?

    • Abc

      Have you seen the bruises and abrasions that are STILL on him because he happens to be a good friend of mine who’s going through a hard time right now and granted he’s not making the best decisions, you really don’t know the extent of a person’s pain or injuries. People don’t end up with bruises and cuts from NOT having force exerted on their bodies.

  • Dave G.

    Can we finally just agree that the DC police department is lacking. Some cops are great people, but overall the city is taking a dive crime wise and the police just seem to be idle about it, same with the mayor. I get its hard to change a system that is complacent but this is just one very small example of what is going on city-wide.

  • Marty

    they need to invest in some flexcuffs. tie the MF’er up and wait for the cops to wander over.

  • 911 is broken

    Part of this is on the 911 operators, who are far and away the least competent people I have ever dealt with. Constant repeat questions about all sorts of details that make it damn near impossible to get anything done. I have on occassion hung up on them because of this.

    “Two guys are fighting with a broken bottle at (location). Please send police and EMT!”

    “What is your location?”

    “(Repeats location)*

    “What is the situation?”

    *(Repeats situation)*

    “What is the location again? Can you descibe it?”

    *(Repeats and describes)*

    “How many people are there?”


    “How old are they?”

    “Are they using drugs?”

    “What color is the vehicle?”


    • AnonPetworth

      So PSA for you and everyone else who might ever call 911, they dispatch as soon as they know who needs to respond and to where exactly and they keep asking you these questions while the appropriate first responders are already on the way so they can arrive at the scene with as much information as possible. Hanging up early is just intentionally withholding potentially useful information from the officers.

      Source: friends with lots of first responders (police, fire, and EMT) and 1 former dispatcher.

      • Sydney

        You’ve drunk the kool-aide. DC dispatchers advertise their lack of interest emphatically. They ask the same inane questions over and over again. If you say “Police, at 14th and Q Streets, NW, for a man with a gun” they’ll follow up with “What street?” . . . What cross street? . . . And that’s Southeast? . . . What’s the problem? . . . That’s not illegal.” Minutes later, they’ll conclude with, “Do you want to leave your name and phone number?” [Ask your friends with lots of first responders why that question is necessary in 2016.] Complain about this to the people with Fire or Police, and they’ll say, “Talk to the Unified dispatchers,” or, worse, “We’ll look into it.”

        • Hill Denizen

          I work with a former dispatcher, and while I don’t dispute that many may be disinterested in their jobs (professionalization of the workforce is a major policy issue), the dispatcher I work with has talked a few times about how in many cases dispatchers are used as witnesses so those random details which are irrelevant to their ability to dispatch first responders can be helpful when a case goes to court.

    • Brentwood, DC

      Wow, I’ve never had that experience, and I’ve called 911 a number of times, most recently on Sunday. The one time I was like the 10th caller (there was a car-b-q on 395 S during rush hour) they were just “We know, police and fire are en route” which I assume they wanted to clear the lines for new emergencies.
      The worst experience I had was Arlington 911 – I’d gone to a friend’s house and discovered she’d died several days prior — out of rigor and decomp had started — and the dispatcher kept asking me to start CPR, saying “I’m going to walk you through it, can you put the phone on speaker?” and I kept being all “Nope nope, too late, cold and serious lividity going on” and she had the audacity to say “So you’re declining to try CPR?”

      • Kate

        That is absolutely horrifying, I’m sorry you had to go through that!

  • Without sounding like I’m defending the cops, which I’m not, this is why DC businesses that can afford to should hire their own security.

    • c_petworth

      hired security does not really have the authority to do much- which we learned on the post a few weeks back regarding a women who was assaulted with pepper spry at the petworth Safeway where their was a security guard present yet the guard did not really have the authority to catch or hold the assailant

      • LittleBluePenguin

        whoa, what?! How’d I miss that post?!

      • Alan

        Yeah, but I don’t think they pay store employees enough to also have to restrain shoplifters. Besides that, those same employees can’t provide service to paying customers while they’re restraining shoplifters.

  • General Grant Circle

    Its going down
    Im yelling Yes! Organic

  • Billy

    This is shameful on the part of the police. I’ve had problems with dispatchers before, who act like it’s an inconvenience to do their job. And obviously this is a serious situation if it’s occurring regularly.

    I wish the Yes employees best of luck in the future, and while I understand trying to allow the perp to stand up,hopefully they won’t show this lunatic any sympathy in the future.

    • Lt Anthony Washington

      See my comment below

  • jonah
    • A

      Figueras responsive? Ummmmm. He has ignored emails from PSA 404 for weeks. Mostly he doesn’t respond. People have complained on numerous occasions. Seems over his head.

  • Annon MPD (2)

    Good afternoon, MPD is NOT allowed to lights and sirens unless a Felony is in progress. If MPD offers are caught doing that, they are given 1-5 days unpaid discipline. Stealing from a local store is not a felony. We can only police on how our brass and ciy council allows. Also, MPD has disciplined officers for going to a scene by themselves. That officer was probably waiting for her back-up that was coming code-2 (no lights and sirens). Also the average response time, not to include man-power, other calls of service is 5-8 mins. So, have no faith, but they’re following the rules and regs for our department. I posted an article on a page yesterday from the Washington City paper. Read it, and it will answer a lot of your questions. We all want to help everyone we can, but we also need those pay checks too. (FYI, I wasn’t there, so I am assuming a little.)

    • Annon MPD (2)

      Also the majority of LEO in the line of duty deaths are from driving lights and sirens. (Code 1) it’s one of the most dangerous things we do. Especially with Maryland drivers on our streets! :)

      • Annon MPD (2)

        Sorry, wanted to clarify, dispatch has to allow us to code-1. We as, patrol officers can’t make that decision.

        • U neighbor

          Question on some other MPD behavior I’ve seen at least 5 separate times in the past year: Light turns red in front of an MPD car, they turn on lights to go through a solid red, only to stop at the red light on the very next block (other cars already stopped at the light). What are the rules on that one?
          Thanks for your insight, and thank you for your service

          • Annon MPD (2)

            I can only assume but I’ll try to help. Officers may do that to catch up to a car that they want to stop or a person that is walking. Also, if they know a co-worker is about to make a stop, that may be high risk for violence or flight, they will attempt to get in the area prior to it starting. How I am understanding this, is the MPD car was the first at a solid red, turns lights on, goes through the intersection and then gets caught behind other cars at another light. If I am understanding correctly, I would assume my above situations are why. They can clearly see trough the intersection because they’re the first car, and then stop when they can’t. They are doing this so they don’t put the community in danger but also try to get where ever they’re going a little quicker. Hope that helps!

          • That MAn A

            I think they are saying the lights are only on for a moment while they go thorough the red light only to turn them off and wait in traffic at the next light.. which i have seen numerous times; not only from MPD
            essentially police are not adhering to the red lights for their own benefit

          • AdMo

            I concur with multiple posters here. I’ve seen the same thing quite frequently, perhaps as a result of walking near a District HQ daily. A police car will turn its lights and sirens on to get through a red stop light, only to conveniently turn them off once through the intersection. The police car will then either park and just sit (or the officer will mosey on out) or the car will just keep driving with zero urgency — in all situations suggesting to me that they are/were not headed to anything urgent. So, 1-5 days paid disciplinary leave might be the penalty, but how exactly does any officer get caught doing this?

    • textdoc

      Thanks so much for your input (and thanks also to Anon MPD, ChooChooPolice, and Detective Friendly). For us as laypeople, getting this kind of insight into how things work on your end is really helpful.

    • LittleBluePenguin

      Thanks, Annon MPD (2) – I did read the City Paper article this morning, and it is incredibly discouraging. Thank you for doing what you do, even if your hands are sort of tied behind your back by well-meaning but ultimately useless policies.

    • A. Nony Mouse

      And if they did use their lights someone a block down would have posted here about how cops used their siren to avoid traffic/get a doughnut/violate their rights.

    • Anon

      Wow, we must have felonies going on constantly! In my neighborhood, at least, the sirens never stop.

    • anon citizen

      So is a red light and traffic considered a felony? Cause I constantly see officers turn on their lights and sirens to get through lights. For some reason they turn them off as soon as their in the clear. To be fair, I do see it happen more with ambulances than police.

      • Annon MPD (2)

        I posted a few above why (assuming) that may happen. Also, obviously when we make traffic stops we are allowed to use lights and sirens.

  • houseintherear

    My fav is when the cops come to the wonderful drug dealing scene at 1st and U and then hang around and chat with the guys, while they continue one at a time to go “talk with their friend” through the car window in a car with Md plates who just pulled up and pulls immediately after they “talk.” HELLOOOOOOOOO.

    • bloomingdale

      following this tangent for a minute….what is up with those guys at 1st and u? I see them all the time there. it’s like a party at that house 24/7, in the midst of an otherwise calm, quiet, and beautiful neighborhood.

      • Anon

        I personally haven’t seen those guys hanging out there much recently – maybe we’re there at different times?
        @House – I highly doubt those guys would be so brazen to actually exchange drugs right in front of the police. They’re likely popping over to tell their friends “not now, chief” (if they are actually selling drugs) – that’s not illegal behavior.

        • houseintherear

          I walk the dog through the intersection twice every evening and they are always there, unless it’s pouring rain. Their bathroom is the side of the house at the northeast corner of the intersection. When a cop is at the intersection, they usually go into the alley by Crispus Attucks park with the visiting car and do their “talking” there. I’ve lived in same place for almost 8 years and this behavior has been constant with little to no police intervention, despite the 911 calls that I and many of my neighbors make.

  • NERes

    Sorry, but with only the information given I don’t see what all was so bad about the officer’s actions here.

    What we know:
    1) Multiple people called in to report the incident. On the nth time, the dispatcher replied that she was already informed of the situation. That’s okay by me.

    2) It took a while for an officer to arrive on scene: unfortunately that seems to often be the case in DC. However, did the (many) 911-callers indicate that the thief was currently being restrained by multiple store workers? That *could* suggest that urgent response isn’t necessary.

    3) An officer arrived on scene and, within a few minutes, found the thief, who’d escaped, after taking the OPs guidance. Again, this doesn’t sound bad to me. So she didn’t blaze off toward the suspect immediately, but so what? While she was stopped at the intersection, she might have been talking with other officers to coordinate. If this thief is a repeat offender, maybe she could predict where he’d be going after a minute. And she likely knew he wasn’t dangerous. I don’t see anything wrong with her actinos.

  • NotToBeThatGuy

    I believe it takes about 2 minutes to walk from the police station on Shepherd to the Yes! Organic. Two officers couldn’t have walked over?

    • Lt Anthony Washington

      801 Shepherd is an administrative building. There are no officers at that location patrol ready and able to respond. The building contains civilians and high ranking officials who handle the administrative business involved with running the 7 patrol districts.

  • “They cannot stay in business if people steal from them.”

    Yeah dude, that $4 larceny of organic Newman’s Own Mint-O-Cookies is what’s going to make Yes! Organic leave the neighborhood. Get a gripe.

    • Rick

      Corporations have loss prevention standards that allow for restaffing or moving a store if their loss prevention metrics don’t match the company standard. And while the cost of that box may be 2 or 2.25, they’re losing all four dollars because they can’t sell a box of cookies at full retail if it was stolen. So yeah, no one’s closing over one box of crappy oreos but it’s not helping on levels beyond dollars and cents.

      • Park View

        Yes! is a family business with a total of 7 locations. I don’t think it has the sophistication of a international corporation.

  • Petwood Rez

    I’m not shocked by the response time. I live on 7th and Jefferson St NW, a corner with numerous instances of violence, and have repeatedly been told my the mayor, commander, chief, council member, etc.. that “community policing” helps and to call 911 if we see any non-violent crimes, dice, drinking/smoking, blocking sidewalk, etc.. as these acts tend to lead to violence. I called 911 an hour ago, actually now 62 minutes ago, about a group shooting dice on the sidewalk. Still no response. Waiting for the gunshots that will soon follow.

  • V

    I’m sorry, but who the hell are you to determine if someone is in pain?! #icantbreathe

    • C

      ^^ this. I know the guy who was caught and restrained by the employees. He STILL has bruises and abrasions from this incident. To the person who claimed he wasn’t in pain, you don’t know anything, you sound like the worst.

  • Lt Anthony Washington

    I just completed a query of our dispatch system. The female officer was dispatched at 10:29 am and arrived on scene at 10:34 am.(5 minutes) A second officer was also dispatched.

    In the article, the writer states that at least three, a manager and two employees, had to restrain the individual and eventually allowed him to stand up and run. For officer safety reasons, the female officer appropriately waited for her back up in order to safely apprehend this individual that three employees had difficulty with restraining.

    The individual was stopped and subsequently arrested.

    • MemodaeweakN

      You need back up to drive your car to follow a crackhead (or is it “spice” we’re blaming these days??) shoplifter? That’s encouraging. So, like…do you guys have to wait for the entire SWAT team to pursue someone that has physically assaulted somebody? But seriously, maybe mix in a few more bike cops that actually ride around the neighborhood (instead of just posting up on the corner of New Hampshire and GA Ave, sitting across from CVS) or cops literally posted up (on their iPhones in their cars–or whatever you want–doesn’t matter) at the 3-5 super problem intersections indefinitely until you guys can make these areas safer for everyday people. It’s really not very promising when there’s a bunch of violence in the ward and the only visable response seems to be more officers occasionally parking their cars near the GA Ave metro station.

      • jonah

        It is unfortunate that commenters can rant about how poorly MPD is doing their job and when the PSA Lt shows up in the comments to help clarify this is how he is welcomed. You don’t need to agree with policies about how MPD operates. But can we give them some credit for helping clarify what an observer reported and what went on behind the scenes with this report being dispatched from a 911 call center to MPD. I highly recommend going to your area PSA meetings, meeting your PSA Lt, and hearing about challenges but also what they are doing in your community. It will also explain what is going on at that CVS and GA Ave metro station.

        • Anonymous

          This simple r fleets the amount of anger out there towards MPD and elected officials. Is it fair? No. But that’s the reality. For crying out loud, someone was robbed at 13th and Taylor St at 7pm in broad daylight this week. That’s two blocks from the Yes Organic. MPD is ineffective at their jobs.

      • dunning-kruger

        Right so I’m for equality but I don’t think it is sound policy to send female cops solo into into scuffles with male perps. Their guns aren’t biometric, neither is the taser, or the mace. That’s a great way for a cop, bystander, or unarmed perp to get hurt/killed, in fact it pretty closely resembles the official story on how Michael Brown was killed, and I believe a female cop was recently indicted in a shooting where she was having trouble physically restraining a male suspect.
        Honestly, if she went in like Rambo and things went south you’d probably be the first one to call her incompetent. I don’t even like cops, look what you’re making me do!
        A friend of mine got a medal for vigilantism a few years ago when he detained a would-be carjacker into a bloody mess while an off duty female cop who happened to be there called it in. Obviously that’s our long term solution.

        • mcd

          So then what is the solution, not have female cops? If I need 2 female cops to solve the problem 1 male cop can respond to, what is going on here? If we are all about equality in the work force now, which I am, and most people here are, what is the solution? I am legitimately asking, because it seems MPD has specific policies for what female cops can do and what male cops can do. Seems strange to me that MPD tells female cops they aren’t capable to respond the same way as their male counterparts…
          Why is MPD hiring people who can’t perform the work to the same level of expectations, regardless of their gender?

    • LittleBluePenguin

      Thank you for your reply, Lt. Having witnessed a previous altercation between store owners and this individual and what I thought was pretty swift police response time, I am less inclined to judge the officer too harshly in this case, since it seems that the response was within a reasonable amount of time. I am curious, though, I thought officers were dispatched in twos? Why does it sound as though this officer had to wait for another one to join her in order to pursue and apprehend the individual?

      • Lt Anthony Washington

        The other officer was further away then she was.

        • Lt Anthony Washington


    • Deepecho

      Thank you for taking the time to respond to the OP. This shows great community policing and an active interest in our neighborhoods. I welcome any and all of your comments and hopefully your colleagues will take an interest in responding to PoPville posts in their wards.

      People need to step back from their entitlement and remember that the life of a police officer is just as important as their own. Did they willingly sign up for a profession that is dangerous and constantly puts them into harms way? Yes, but why does that mean they should be careless and brazen with their own life to protect yours and mine? If anything, we need to support them more because of the inherent risks they volunteer themselves for when they put a badge on their chest. The vast majority of us don’t go to work thinking we may die trying to protect our community, so for those that do, respect them. Help them. Support them.

      Hell yes wait for back up, I will always be okay with that.

  • Thisisaconvo?

    Wow this is interesting. Maybe this area isn’t “fixed up enough” for rapid dispatch yet.

    This isn’t new. Some DC residents have been dealing with this since…umm forever?! And for far more dangerous offenses than stolen goods.

    Idk what else to say. I know this wasn’t helpful. Let’s just hope that letter works. We’ve been trying forever.

    • XinDC

      I think you’re absolutely correct.
      Not much will change due to shortage of police manpower.
      An article from popville last year had mpd’s anonymously posting explaining this summer MAY or will be like the wild, wild west due to lack of officers retiring and those straight from police academy don’t want to be policing in DC.
      To the five o’s saying it’s your living ..Then why pick that career? Yeah, we know you all have to earn a living and it’s not the best kind of $$. Isn’t it about protecting and serving?
      Must we all wait for this to get to the worst case scenario?
      For Yes! organic…so “organic” of the employees to be doing what they did considering they “know” of this shoplifter.

      What boggles me is the city as a whole is getting worse and worse in crime w/ all ‘hoods.

      I used to walk a lot. Not so anymore. IDK if I want a gun, a rapist, or a drugged out person. There are no choices of wha crime can happen, just timing.
      That blows.

  • ODatpizza

    I think popville.com readers and the post author need to put things in perspective. The police prioritize responses based on severity of crime. A 10 minute response time for shop lifting is excusable. Also, the store employees chose to confront the man. I think the author was responding to the excitement of the situation, yes a man was yelling and being held down but no it wasnt an emergency. Maybe the police seemed lasen- fare in their response but this wasn’t a dangerous situation.

  • Anonymous

    MPD in Ward 4 is the worst yet Bowser and Brandon Tood seem powerless to do anything. Or maybe they don’t care. I’ve had it! And I’ve seen much worse than this happen (no offense).

  • Alan

    Employees shouldn’t have to do things like that. They need to hire security.

  • Anne

    Let us also remember that police headquarters is also around the corner (on Shepard & 8th). Not that they are on patrol, but you’d think they’d be invested in keeping their own neighborhood safe.

  • anon

    i love how no one is concerned about the employees violating the victim’s rights by restraining (violently or not) or otherwise not allowing them to leave. unless the person committed a crime at the time (which was not mentioned at all in OP’s post here), this is unacceptable behavior. unfortunately not surprising though, given how quickly people make (often faulty) assumptions and react without thinking it through first.

    • stacksp

      Just re-read and you do have a point.


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