Monday, July 25, 2011

Online Petition for More Police in Adams Morgan Draws Heartfelt Pleas

Photo by Aude
About a week ago, I received an emailed request to sign a petition in support of increased police presence in Adams Morgan. I tend not to sign onto a neighborhood-specific petition unless it's my own neighborhood of Cleveland Park. I worry that by too quickly endorsing a cause in someone else's neighborhood, I may not fully understand how it will affect the surrounding neighborhoods. For example, if police patrols are beefed up as a result of this petition, will that take any police staffing away from, say, Mount Pleasant, Shaw, or Columbia Heights?

Still, it's not a hard and fast rule; I do my best to research an issue before appending my name, whether in cyber-ink or actual ink. The very first thing to do is to read the petition and see who's behind it, and what their reasons are for pushing for the requested action. With an online petition, that's all public, and in this case, you can read the comments left by the signers. As of today, there are six pages of signatures, totalling 279 supporters. I found that the comments make a persuasive, and in some cases, rather alarming case that the neighborhood right now is not receiving the police attention it sorely needs.

Take a look at some of these citizen reports:
There are regularly gangs of people roaming around at night vandalizing our property and doing who knows what else. I've also noticed a spike in what I can only assume to be drug dealers on 18th Street, particulary in front of the school and tennis courts at night, and sometimes in the afternoon (often near trashcans where I've seen drug drops occur). There is a very clear connection between the types of people making this trouble and the people who are patronizing some of the sketchier bars on 18th street. It would be nice if the police would actually do something about this problem instead of just watching it from the corner of 18th and Columbia.
In just three years at my current residence, my car has been broken into, my friend's car has been broken into, and my boyfriend has been assaulted and robbed. Recently, there was a girl who was robbed and got away from men who tried to throw her in the trunk of their car. All of this happened right in my neighborhood. Please help build more protection for the community of Adams Morgan. We need more patrols and video cameras in this neighborhood to ensure our safety.
We need a processing detail so as to keep more cops on the street as opposed to when an arrest is made it does not take the cop out of action for the night...
Last week I literally saw an officer hiding behind a payphone. Some guy on the street went over and told him he just missed a huge fight and pointed him in the direction of the fight. The officer literally waved him away. I can't say that gives me faith in our police, although, that said, if I were the officer alone on the street, I might hide behind a payphone as well. What does it take for our government to pay attention? How bad does it have to get?
As someone whose second floor bedroom faces Kalorama about 5 houses off of 18th Street, I can tell you that those times are like the Wild West on the best of nights. Impromptu "parties" on our front steps (a private home, not an apartment house or condo, require us to get out of bed almost every weekend to run people off. A simple slow moving vehicle patrol which stops to query loitering people who go a long way towards stopping this intolerable situation.
Someone broke into our building two weeks ago, and the building across the street has had four break-ins in the last three weeks. These burglaries come in addition to the regular Thursday, Friday, and Saturday night rowdiness. Often, people park their cars behind our building until 3 or 4 in the morning, and return after the bars close to continue drinking and playing music--and urinating. Often visitors to the 18th Street bars speed around the back streets, which are very narrow. Some of them have clearly been drinking, and last year my parked car was sideswiped at night by someone going the wrong way down a one-way street. Without a doubt, we need a more robust police presence to not only stop crime, but to push back against the public drunkenness that affects the quality of life...
On any given Fri & Sat day and night there are cars parked in my private property. There are people partying in the cars, drinking, loitering, leaving trash behind. The police seem overwhelmed to deal with this. In addition, same scene is going on my front yard stoop. I am a business owner, purposely chose to live in AdMo because of the crowds & nightlife, but we need better police enforcement on the streets.
In my 30 years here in A-M I have never seen so many muggings within 2 blocks of my house. These are just the ones that are reported in the newspapers. I try to be home in my house by 10PM. When my wife and I I do go out for dinner, etc, it is to MD or VA where the streets are safe.
We are over-run by kids on weekend evenings with many not even supporting the businesses. They just hang out, block sidewalks, intimidate and grope women as they walk by. Property values in our area have declined at a higher rate than many other neighborhoods such as Capitol Hill. I am convinced this is a major reason for the decline.
I have lived in the neighborhood for 21 years and watched it deteriorate from a place with a vibrant and positive restaurant and retail scene to a place with a destructive and undesirable night scene. My husband and I don't ever venture down to 18th Street at night and only go out for dinner or drinks between Monday and Wednesday. We sleep with our windows closed, no matter how nice the evening, because we are tired of hearing drunk bar patrons arguing or screaming on their way to their cars, which are parked close to our home. We are also tired of picking up their garbage (pizza slice crusts, paper plates, napkins, beer bottles) that are left all over the neighborhood, from Adams Morgan all the way to the metro station at Woodley Park. The police presence needs to be throughout the neighborhood, not just on 18th and Columbia.

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