Thursday, February 10, 2011

Safeway Security Procedures to Change

Starting on Monday, Safeway’s security plan for its Waterfront Station store will change. According to Craig Muckle, Safeway’s Manager of Public Affairs and Government Relations, there will no longer be uniformed security officers at the entrance to the store. Instead, there will be plain-clothed greeters at the store entrances that will welcome customers when they walk in and check receipts before they depart. Muckle described the greeters as part of a “Quality Assurance Program” at the store, similar to what is done at Costco and Walmart. These greeters will not have security duties; plain-clothed security officers will still be in the store as they are now.

Also, store hours will change back to 6am-11pm in the spring. Muckle didn’t know the exact date, but I’ll pass along that information once I receive it.

Update: TBD.com picks up the Safeway story and reports that the Waterfront Station security change could be implemented throughout the city by the end of the year. From the article:
Safeway spokesperson Craig Muckle confirms that customers who decline to show a receipt will not be stopped. “If someone were to refuse, there’s no commotion made or anything like that,” he says. “They’re able to go.” Muckle maintains that the employees manning the door are not security guards; in fact, he says that the new receipt-checking policy is not a security measure at all.

65 comments:

Ken said...

glad to see things are being done at the safeway. those security guards seems to never do anything. anyone else notice this? they just stand there. they should really consider bringing back the safeway task force.

on another note, i don't know if anyone else shops at the CVS, but everytime I'm there, there seems to be a lack of employees. there's always long lines and only one person working the registers. i'm pretty sure theft in that store in extremely high.

they should have a police officer patrolling that avenue.

Anonymous said...

I'm not sure if I understand. Will the store still have visible security? Having people at the front greet and check receipts is fine, but what happens if someone steals something. Those greeters, like you said: "will NOT have security duties."

How is this area suppose to improve, if the same people are constantly getting away with crime, theft, and harassment?

Kristen said...

Unless Safeway also starts charging an annual membership fee like Costco I will not be showing them my receipt. What an offensive policy - guilty of shoplifting until proven innocent? No thanks.

Anonymous said...

@Kristen, why would you want them to charge an annual fee? that's just ridiculous. if you have nothing to hide, then whats the problem.

AK said...

Re. CVS, I agree that it often seems under-staffed and has inordinately long lines. If theft is a problem there, which I've heard before, you'd think the store would choose to increase the number of employees on the floor, including security.

Re. security at the stores in general, I have no problem showing my receipt, since I don't steal things. So long as security checks are implemented fairly, if they are an effective deterrent to crime, I don't mind. Less crime in the neighborhood benefits all of us.

Anonymous said...

So if I don't purchase anything and leave, what happens? There are a lot of people in that store who "don't purchase anything."

Anonymous said...

Wow, lots of negative commentariat. I get the impression that there are some people who just won't be satisfied with safeway no matter what.

Personally, I'm happy to see the security guards go. Not that I think they were doing anything wrong (what else is a security guard supposed to do, but WATCH--that's their job!). But it's well documented in urban planning circles that visible security measures like guards, just as bars on windows do, create an impression that an area is unsafe and perpetuate blight. If we want a vibrant community we can't create a security state in our neighborhood.

Taking away the security guards and replacing them with greeters creates a more welcoming environment for shoppers. That means more regular people in the store. And the more people there are around to see thefts or impede the escape, the less likely this activity is to happen.

Anonymous said...

Impede the escape? I'm sure the greeters will love that.

Anonymous said...

Its also well documented in urban planning circles, as well as common sense circles, that if you have a grocery store placed adjacent to a massive swath of public housing, you will have shoplifting. Close the public housing (move people who can't afford to live in DC to PG County or Southern Maryland, sorry, that's life).

Do you really expect people who don't work, and who rely entirely on government handouts and assorted hustles, to actually care about paying for their groceries.

Given that this is 2011 and not the 1950s, I own a car, which I use to drive 10 minutes over the bridge to one of two Harris Teeters, where I find full shelves of high quality products, and, incredibly, no gangs of taxpayer-funded thugs roaming the aisles.

Anonymous said...

im sorry, but they need to reduce the amount of public housing in this area. its all situated in the same vicinity. your only asking for more problems.

and these people do NOT work. all they do is cause havoc. seriously, we need to be more proactive in safety, theft, robbery, and crime in SW.

can someone answer this, what happens to a person if they are caught stealing at safeway or cvs? i've seen theft offer more than once, but the kids were let go right away, without any consequence or anything.

Anonymous said...

Some guilty white people and guilty black people think that public housing is what makes Southwest great.

Anonymous said...

At a recent ANC meeting, Gene Solon said that we have to demand that Safeway lower its prices so that people in public housing can afford the food.

Anonymous said...

What an idiot. "Demand" that Safeway lower its prices, so that poor people can shop there? Following that logic, if I lose my job then I should be able to go to Safeway and "Demand" that they give me free food!

Anonymous said...

If it's not a store which requires a membership to shop inside like Costco, they cannot legally ask to see your receipt on the way out the store. Membership based stores can do that because you agreed to it when you signed the membership agreement.

All you need to do is politely say no and keep walking. If they attempt to detain you, ask if you are being accused of shoplifting and demand they bring a manager out so you can tell them how much you appreciate being treated like a criminal.

I(heart)SWDC said...

I'm really stunned at the amount of trash talk devoted to public housing in this comment section. Hey "good neighbors," remember that when you point one finger, four are pointed back at you. Try to be a positive force in the SW community rather than broadcasting such negativity and hatred.

Anonymous said...

Upset that Safeway is about to start treating you like a criminal? Politely decline the receipt check, and hand them a copy of the following text:


To the Southwest Safeway General Manager:

I have handed this paper to your security employee who has requested to see my receipt following a purchase, a request I politely refused. I recognize that this employee is doing the job you have assigned, and this should not be seen as an indication that this person has done anything but a fine job.
However, I am insulted by your practice of treating every customer as a potential thief. Note that this lack of goodwill results not only in my future choice of other, more customer-oriented stores over your own, it also results in significant negative word-of-mouth advertising regarding my shopping experience. Consider that you will have to spend substantial amounts of revenue in advertising for new customers with each customer you lose to this charade.
I sincerely hope you will reconsider your policy of checking receipts at the door. I recognize that shoplifting and other forms of loss are a challenge to retail establishments, and I encourage you to take measures—including increasing the number and training of sales associates—to reduce loss. Insulting your customers is the wrong approach.

Anonymous said...

Why should we praise the public housing? I don't verbally harass people who walk by my apartment. I don't proposition people for a joke. I don't live off of handouts from the ANC.

Anonymous said...

Can someone tell me when the last murder in SW occurred where the victim and/or the perpetrator was not a resident of SW public housing?

Anonymous said...

I've never been harassed or bothered by a public housing resident, that I know of. It's not uncommon though, to be bothered by jerks on the metro during my morning commute. Bottom line is, not all public housing residents are bad, and not all working folk are good.

The existence of security guards at Safeway is not going to make public housing magically disappear. As so many stories above demonstrate, the security guards were completely ineffective, so I don't get why people are upset that they won't be there any more.

Anonymous said...

I've definitely been harassed. And to top it off, I don't understand why. I mind my own business and avoid eye contact. But, why is it that I'm constantly verbally abused, just walking home. I live at the Waterfront Tower, so I constantly see the problem.

The police need to be more proactive. They need to have more security on the streets and be on foot.

Like seriously, who wants to be harassed daily just walking home. And mind you, its a one block walk.

Anonymous said...

The first time I am asked to show a receipt at Safeway is the last time I shop there. I am not a thief and won't be treated like one. It's like they have a staff meeting and go around the room, "How can we drive away the middle class customer?" This is such a shame, I was just thinking this week what a positive change the Safeway has been to SW, and now it turns into a true ghetto market.

Anonymous said...

Does anyone know, if you refuse to show a receipt, can Safeway do anything other than call the police and file shoplifting charges against you?

Anonymous said...

I hope to get the answet to: if you refuse to show a receipt, can Safeway do anything other than call the police and file shoplifting charges against you? I will be there on Monday and there will be a scene if a "plain-clothed greeter" approaches me in a manner which implies I am a shoplifter.

Unless all area Safeways change their security plan to ask for receipts I will scream DISCRIMINATION. Yes, I live in Southwest but I am not a criminal and will not be bullied into being treated like one.

Anonymous said...

Refusal to submit to a voluntary search by Safeway personnel (read: refusal to turn over your receipt) does not provide Safeway with sufficient legal justification for subjecting a customer to one that is compulsory. Police need probable cause to conduct a search, and customers of stores with membership programs have voluntarily agreed to submit to searches generally as matter of contract. Safeway, being neither a government entity nor a members-only commercial entity (such as Costco) has virtually no legal standing to implement a receipt-check policy without the benefit of a member agreement.
However, while Safeway does not have explicit legal grounds to check receipts, it can be argued that Safeway has grounds to request law enforcement to “investigate” its suspicions of illegal activity. In states where the “shopkeeper’s privilege” exists, for example, stores may only claim the privilege to search customers (read: request to verify receipts) when the store agent has a reasonable belief that a customer has engaged in unlawful activity. While DC law does not provide Safeway with legal grounds with which to compel you (as a customer) to produce a receipt, if a Safeway employee wants to allege shoplifting against you, Safeway has the right to detain you for up to one hour until the police definitively conclude that you have or have not shoplifted an item.
So, your choice: voluntarily proffer your receipt or risk an interpersonal clash that has you detained for an hour… the old adage about attracting flies with honey.
That said, I agree with previous comments – I doubt this policy is being implemented at the Wisconsin Ave, NW Safeway branch.

Anonymous said...

There is a hyrbid solution in all this if Safeway monitors their customers by camera and then alerts the door people by earphones anyone they have observed shoplifting so that the checks appear random but in actuality are being driven by probable cause. Safeway security would have their camera tapes as backup for any legal problems, which you know would be right around the corner.

I think why this really bothers so many of us is not the assumption of guilt because we endure that every time we go through a TSA check at an airport and realize its for our safety, or walk through tag sensors at Macy's exits. Maybe what really bothers some of us is that we aren't living in Georgetown or leafy Northwest?

Bob Craycraft, ANC6D01 Commissioner said...

From Safeway's standpoint, whether or not this works would, from my view, depend upon how the checker approaches the departing customer. If the interaction starts with a "Thanks for shopping with us today" or similar and then leads to "May I quality check your receipt?" then I think they will have better luck than the silent uniformed security guards there currently.

From our standpoint as customers, each person has to decide how to handle this. I'm going to try the approach I use with TSA: Tell myself they are on my side of the battle, are doing a job that can't be fun, and greet them with a smile and my ID already out. We cannot have the type of upscale grocery store most of us want in Southwest without supporting Safeway in their efforts to reduce theft, and that may involve the loss of some personal dignity.

Anonymous said...

Anon @ 9:49--what does being harassed on the street while walking home have to do with SAFEWAY, which is what this post is about??? If you have a problem on the street, the people you need to talk to are the POLICE.

I strongly disagree with the notion that sacrificing dignity is necessary to create an upscale environment. Surely it is the other way around.

Anonymous said...

The failure of Safeway to utilize their security guards effectively is the problem, not its customers.

Anonymous said...

"While DC law does not provide Safeway with legal grounds with which to compel you (as a customer) to produce a receipt, if a Safeway employee wants to allege shoplifting against you, Safeway has the right to detain you for up to one hour until the police definitively conclude that you have or have not shoplifted an item."

That is absolutely incorrect. NOBODY, aside from the police or authorities, has a right to detain you against your will. It's called kidnapping. If Safeway tried detaining me for any reason, I'd tell them to call the police immediately to have me arrested or let me go on my way. If that didn't work, I'd physically extricate myself from the situation. I'm not 13 and I'm not stealing anything. I know my legal rights.

Anonymous said...

Oh, and as expected with any article on the Safeway, nice to see the predictable responses from the asshole racists in SW ranting and raving about issues that don't even have anything to do with the stores.

Anonymous said...

craig.muckle@safeway.com

Anonymous said...

This is not about race. It is about he impossibility of having upscale retail of any kind in Southwest.

There is an obsession with filling the neighborhood with public housing and not effectively dealing with the problems that this concentration brings.

"We cannot have the type of upscale grocery store most of us want in Southwest without supporting Safeway in their efforts to reduce theft, and that may involve the loss of some personal dignity."

We just can't have that at all until we deal with the real problems. And that solution does not involve subsidized housing on the Waterfront. We are nuts to think we can have anything at all world class in SW with the status quo and with increasing subsidized housing.

And you are an asshole for bringing up race.

SWill said...

Ok folks, I understand that any talk of Safeway brings up strong emotions, but let's keep the comments civil. I may have to make changes to the comments settings like some other blogs do, since most of you are responding as "Anonymous".

RetiredSheriff said...

@Anon 1:45PM, the poster who gave the legal background to the whys/wherefores of receipt-checking is correct. If Safeway policy permits its Loss Prevention personnel to do so, the grounds on which they can hold you -- pending arrival of Metro PD -- are those of a citizen's arrest. However, most franchises required that a "checklist" of credible behavior occur (e.g., theft was witnessed, etc.) be met before the LP staff invokes this authority. Refusing to to show your receipt is not generally enough (unless they believe you to have done other things on their checklist.)

Anonymous said...

i think many of us should sign up to the community summit and express some of our concerns.

Anonymous said...

I don't understand why people always assume others are racist. Just because we want a safe and enjoyable community doesn't make us racist. We wouldn't be living in Washington, DC, specially SW if we were racist would we?

Anonymous said...

Mr. Craycraft has the right attitude about customer service. However, the comparison of an airport and grocery store is a little off. TSA screens passengers for security reasons. They do not stop you when you're getting off the plane to see if did or did not steal something.

See, that's my problem. Customers should not have to prove their innocence every time they leave a store.

Anonymous said...

So how does Best Buy get away with it? They're not membership based, but they demand to see everyone's receipt on the way out of the store.

DavidSW

Anonymous said...

I agree with those who say that the biggest issue in Southwest is the high concentration of public housing. Period. Black people, white people, whatever. The public housing and the people who reside in the public housing is a problem. No, I am not referring to the people who live in public housing who are decent people just trying to live life. I'm talking about the other people in public housing who I have to deal with daily who throw trash on the street, curse, rob, whatever...Yes, get rid of them and the quality of our Safeway will rise instantly. Mark my words.

Reston Wanderer said...

@Anon 2:34:

And not only does Best Buy do it in DC, they do it in Reston, right in the middle of all the "upscale shopping". So what's the beef again?

Anonymous said...

The beef is that Safeway, a grocery store which does not sell high end and high cost electronics, has felt compelled to do it because of rampant shoplifting of food and other grocery items in a residential neighborhood which has an overly high concentration of public housing.

Anonymous said...

I don't see how this will be successful. The kids have no fear of anything. After they've done their "browsing", they will make a coordinated move towards the door, then bolt out the door and run, laughing at the greeter, who's saying "Kids! May I see your receipt, please?". And the kids will say F-you, as they run out into the street.

DavidSW

Anonymous said...

Ultimately, we come to the same issue over and again. The security problem isn't necessarily Safeway's problem. It's a DC government problem. As long as we have a city government that supports and protects the type of dysfunction inherent in our current public housing situation specific to SW (an over concentration) there will be no progress in the quadrant that we can be proud of. Unless we have elected officials who are committed to action and not words, we will continue to have the type of problems we do not want -- drug and other passive and violent crimes, litter, limited and subpar retail and/or housing opportunities, limited tax revenues for the city, fear and animosity among residents, etc. It's a fact. Imagine the redeveloped Waterfront without a redeveloped public housing situation. The Safeway cannot redevelop the neigborhood -- city officials who control the public housing can.

PostIt said...

Geez...this is such a touchy subject!

I think everyone can agree that the underlying problem is not the receipt check, but the theft to begin with -- regardless of who is commiting it. Safeway is not responsible for law enforcement, nor is it responsible for the distribution of public housing, nor is it responsible for parenting or teaching kids their civic duty. It's a BUSINESS. There are only so many options available to them to ensure they are finishing in the black (ink, that is, not race). If the option they choose doesn't suit you, then don't shop there. No need to raise a stink. Why are so many up in arms about what a local, private business chooses to do? What if the cleaners started asking for payment BEFORE the garments were cleaned? (Gasp!) What if a local beauty salon started asking for reservations 1 week ahead of time instead of walk-ins? Why is anger at this issue any less petty? Really, it just shows how trivial it all is.

Plus, I'm curious what all these complainers would suggest Safeway do otherwise - something that they can do TODAY to protect the bottom line and that doesn't take 5 years to kick in.

I think people need to get off their high horse and realize it ain't about you! As Mr. Craycraft says, just smile and go with it - I think he's totally right. Personally, I'll be smiling about the sucker who gets caught.

P.S.
Join a CSA.

Anonymous said...

what's going to happen when I have items in my bag that I purchased previously? I often carry a bunch of snacks etc in my large purse to eat throughout the day - so if I have an apple and yogurt in my bag and then go into safeway and buy a bottle of water and they only see water on my reciept at they going to think I stole the apple and yogurt?

Anonymous said...

Yes, PostIt. Safeway is not responsible for the conditions in Southwest. However, the community has choices: ignore such business practices ... live with the bulletproof windows they had at the KFC/liquor stores ... just smile and go with it. Or we can attend PSA meetings and be accused of hate mongering.

p.s. you better keep receipts of everything you buy from now on whether it's an apple or hand lotion in your purse.

PostIt said...

Anonymous -

Your reference doesn't work. While the bullet proof windows existed to protect against crime, they didn't exist to *prevent* crime. There's a big difference - one is passive acceptance, whereas this case is active prevention. Try again.

I presume you're one of the folks who has complained a lot on this thread. People mention "speaking out" against this practice, but offer very few solutions. If you're going to lambaste a decision, you should specify why an alternative is better. If the status quo is acceptible for you, you should be prepared to defend it.

Those of us who are "okay" with this solution are not ignoring Safeway's choice (as you accuse), but we acknowledge that this is a business decision. We are fortunate to live in an area that has a grocery store. Food deserts are not unique to rural areas and personally I'm not opposed to making concessions to the business if it means maintaining an important quality of life condition. Convince me otherwise.

I'm curious if you would be having the same reaction if this were not part of the Safeway chain, but a single independent grocery store owned locally. My guess is you probably wouldn't be so outraged because you understand the need for their financial solvency.

Why should this situation be any different?

Anonymous said...

One real solution is to demand that there be NO public housing on the new Waterfront. Enough is enough. No need to bring yet more people into our neighborhood for subsidized housing.

Anonymous said...

So this is the new setup? Four people standing around at each entrance checking receipts? Wow. $64/hr for people to check receipts.

I respectfully declined to show my receipt, nor show her the content of my bag tonight. I respect Safeway's efforts to reduce shrink, but I will not participate.

Anonymous said...

There is a lot of public housing located around the Potomac Ave Harris Teeter, yet HT doesn't treat its customers guilty before innocent. Why is it acceptable for the SW Safeway to treat customers like this?

Bob Craycraft, ANC6D01 Commissioner said...

There are several references here to new public housing in the waterfront redevelopment.

As a point of clarification, there are no public housing units in the new waterfront buildings nor, to my knowledge, any planned for Southwest.

The new waterfront buildings have 30% of their square footage reserved for affordable housing, defined in this development as for those who make between 30% and 60% of the DC area's average mean income of about $103,000.

Unlike public housing, these units will not be run by the DC Housing Authority but by the private company operating the other units. The landlord may do complete background checks and deny applicants based on criteria they use for their market rate units. The landlord has no obligation to accept Section 8 vouchers.

The occupants of these units could well be young working couples, college students, retirees, etc. Even a hardworking cashier or "greeter" at the Safeway :).

But it is a very different scenario from government provided and operated public housing for those with very little or perhaps no source of income.

Anonymous said...

HT on Potomac Ave is physically set up with cash registers in front of each door, so it is easier to check out who comes and goes without checking receipts. This being said, HT has been plagued with shoplifting at this location due to the proximity of Potomac Gardens public housing. A cheeky comentator on another blog posted that residents there are just frustrated by the new move-ins to the area and that's the way they show their frustration.

Anyway, HT has had to impliment various changes to its store in an effort to fight shoplifting at this location.

This is not a problem of Safeway vs Harris Teeter. The Southwest Safeway is the only store in the chain in DC that I know of where there are these greeters. That doesn't speak well of our neighborhood, does it?

Anonymous said...

I went shopping last night at the Safeway (Feb .14) and experienced the greeters for the first time.

It was okay. They were pleasant. But Safeway needs more signs to tell people to have their receipts out when they leave the store - I almost didn't see the one at the self checkout I was using.

On the positive side, the glass door at the Starbuck's entrance has FINALLY been repaired, and was open!

DavidSW

Anonymous said...

It's a stupid policy. Shoplifters can hide a big old steak in their coats and show a receipt for a candybar that they're holding. Mission Accomplished!

Anonymous said...

It's stupid that we in SW have tolerated shoplifting and other petty crime for so long.

Anonymous said...

WE don't tolerate shoplifting and "other petty crime." Safeway takes half-assed measures to fight shoplifting by instituting insulting policies that do nothing more than insult the good customers.

Anonymous said...

They need to reduce the amout of public housing in SW. If you walk over towards 3rd Street, you clearly see the problem.

I'm all for public housing, but when you have so much of it in one area, its definitely not good for a neighborhood that's trying to change.

Anonymous said...

I wonder what's going to happen when Station 4 and Z Burger open. Hopefully enough decent people come into the resturants to eat, otherwise kids will use it as a hang out joint.

Anonymous said...

Kids won't be using either place as a hang out joint, moron. Do you see them hanging out in Subway? Station 4 is a bar, Z Burger is a restaurant and what is the correlating theme? If you don't buy, you don't hang.

Christ, the stupidity of some SW residents never ceases to amaze me.

Ed said...

Just in safeway and had to break up a fight and had a group of teens were roaming the aisle - one of whom on a scooter. No security guards meant no one to step in to stop them. The neighborhood kids know there is a lack of security and they are taking advantage of it. I could care less about the greeters, the real issues is lack of security. I thought we had a commitment from Safeway that we would have proper security in exchange for allowing them to have the beer and wine license. This is unacceptable and we need a proper security presence at Safeway.

Anonymous said...

This comment was previously posted on JDland's blog regarding life before public housing redevelopment near the Navy Yard.
**********************************
Rick says: (Jun 28, 2010 09:56 AM)
JD - thanks for all the research. Just wanted to reinforce your comments about what it was like with the following:

We've lived one block north of the freeway near Results since 1985 and literally watched the changes close up. Our immediate neighborhood had more than its share of crime: I was held up at gun point while watering our newly planted street trees; the house broken into three times; countless neighbors' cars stolen or broken into for the cheapest object; knife wielding crazies running across the garage roofs like action movie figures; plants ripped from the front yard; nightly helicopters circling low while beaming light on a hidden suspect; routine nighttime sex in the back alley - always an unexpected visual when taking out the garbage; hidden drug needles making autumn leaf raking a less than amusing challenge; and on. Most of it was property crime; comparatively little against individuals.

Despite what our neighborhood experienced, so much more occurred south of the freeway. It created an odd demarcation line between drastically different worlds - almost as if the 3rd and 4th Street underpasses were invisible doorways. While we still have our share of crime, there seems to have been a drop paralleling the sequential closing of Ellen Wilson, Carrollsburg, and Arthur Capper. Nonetheless, my visceral wariness of loud bangs, the unexpected person walking up behind me when sweeping the sidewalk or raking leaves, and the odd floorboard creaking in the dead of night unfortunately has become an ingrained behavior even when out of town in the safest of places.

The street litter has declined but also changed. It used to be syringes and McDonalds wrappers. I often watched teenagers buy something at McD's on 6th and Penn, finish eating around 4th and G, drop all the packaging on the sidewalk with an odd detachment, then head south under the freeway. Now it's sports drink bottles (Results patrons?), Heineken cans, more and fancier dogs' poop, and (oddly) more cigarette butts.

Amid all the drug sales and crime, there were mothers, children, and old folks struggling to create a life in Ellen Wilson, Carrolsburg, and Arthur Capper. Every once in a while you would see a small front yard with a flourishing flower garden, a string of Christmas lights, fire crackers on the 4th, or kids laughing. More than anyone, they were the victims of what happened - or didn't happen as the DC government descended into an inexcusable and irresponsible incompetence from which we are now only awakening.

While the intentional flooding of our streets with a sequence of drugs over the years was and remains a challenge few city government's could completely control, the public policies, approach to municipal services and government employment, almost willful disregard for education, jelly donut promises (they taste good but are meaningless), and personal behavior of no-longer-Mayor-for-Life Marion Barry was no small part of the problem. Despite his support over the years from those who seem to be his greatest victims, he bears no small responsibility for the valley he led us into with no path to the mountain top.

Just in case a few of your suburban readers view the murders you chronicled with smug detachment: I used to routinely watch cars with Virginia plates park on the streets just north of the freeway, presumably having just exited eastbound at 6th. They weren't just old clunkers but included new BMWs, Volvos, and family minivans. One person would stay in the car. Another would walk under the freeway to Arthur Capper only to return a few minutes latter. They'd do a little something in the car and drive up the westbound 3rd street ramp heading back to VA as the high set in. Enablers all.

Rick

Anonymous said...

This comment was previously posted on JDland's blog regarding life before public housing redevelopment near the Navy Yard.
**********************************
Rick says: (Jun 28, 2010 09:56 AM)
JD - thanks for all the research. Just wanted to reinforce your comments about what it was like with the following:

We've lived one block north of the freeway near Results since 1985 and literally watched the changes close up. Our immediate neighborhood had more than its share of crime: I was held up at gun point while watering our newly planted street trees; the house broken into three times; countless neighbors' cars stolen or broken into for the cheapest object; knife wielding crazies running across the garage roofs like action movie figures; plants ripped from the front yard; nightly helicopters circling low while beaming light on a hidden suspect; routine nighttime sex in the back alley - always an unexpected visual when taking out the garbage; hidden drug needles making autumn leaf raking a less than amusing challenge; and on. Most of it was property crime; comparatively little against individuals.

Despite what our neighborhood experienced, so much more occurred south of the freeway. It created an odd demarcation line between drastically different worlds - almost as if the 3rd and 4th Street underpasses were invisible doorways. While we still have our share of crime, there seems to have been a drop paralleling the sequential closing of Ellen Wilson, Carrollsburg, and Arthur Capper. Nonetheless, my visceral wariness of loud bangs, the unexpected person walking up behind me when sweeping the sidewalk or raking leaves, and the odd floorboard creaking in the dead of night unfortunately has become an ingrained behavior even when out of town in the safest of places.

The street litter has declined but also changed. It used to be syringes and McDonalds wrappers. I often watched teenagers buy something at McD's on 6th and Penn, finish eating around 4th and G, drop all the packaging on the sidewalk with an odd detachment, then head south under the freeway. Now it's sports drink bottles (Results patrons?), Heineken cans, more and fancier dogs' poop, and (oddly) more cigarette butts.

Amid all the drug sales and crime, there were mothers, children, and old folks struggling to create a life in Ellen Wilson, Carrolsburg, and Arthur Capper. Every once in a while you would see a small front yard with a flourishing flower garden, a string of Christmas lights, fire crackers on the 4th, or kids laughing. More than anyone, they were the victims of what happened - or didn't happen as the DC government descended into an inexcusable and irresponsible incompetence from which we are now only awakening.

While the intentional flooding of our streets with a sequence of drugs over the years was and remains a challenge few city government's could completely control, the public policies, approach to municipal services and government employment, almost willful disregard for education, jelly donut promises (they taste good but are meaningless), and personal behavior of no-longer-Mayor-for-Life Marion Barry was no small part of the problem. Despite his support over the years from those who seem to be his greatest victims, he bears no small responsibility for the valley he led us into with no path to the mountain top.

Just in case a few of your suburban readers view the murders you chronicled with smug detachment: I used to routinely watch cars with Virginia plates park on the streets just north of the freeway, presumably having just exited eastbound at 6th. They weren't just old clunkers but included new BMWs, Volvos, and family minivans. One person would stay in the car. Another would walk under the freeway to Arthur Capper only to return a few minutes latter. They'd do a little something in the car and drive up the westbound 3rd street ramp heading back to VA as the high set in. Enablers all.

Rick

Anonymous said...

"Do you see them hanging out in Subway?"

No, but Monday night there was a gaggle of 5 or 6 kids hanging out inside the front entrance of CVS. While I was at the check-out the manager who was ringing me up stopped in mid-scan because the decibel level increased dramatically. The kids were still there when I left. Move along, move along. Nothing to see here.

Anonymous said...

loud, disrespectful, and young kids can still order food or eat at a resturant. they can use it has a hang out area. 6 kids can order an appetizer and drinks and still be at the place.

Anonymous said...

All of you people who say "get rid of the public housing, these people DO NOT WORK," are just totally STUPID!!! I'm not saying that there aren't a lot of people on public assistance who steal, don't work and cause havoc. But you cannot categorize an entire group of people on the wrong attributes of some. It seems as though you people (that's right, YOU PEOPLE) equate people on public assistance with Blacks, who are the vast majority of our public assistance neighbors. Any idoit who has half a brain would know that more whites are on public assistance than blacks! A good number of those in the 3rd Street area are WORKING poor, retired (w/o pensions) or on disability. It is a Truth that a lot of their children/grandchildren are big troublemakers in our neighborhood, but don't denounce an entire population for a few. I have lived in Southwest for 18 years and have seen vast changes in the area. You whites who have come in and want to make this a "better" neighborhood sometimes equate better with no blacks. How about supply and demand? I'm referring to all the the whites with VA license tags who come in the area, cruise around, park their car, one person gets out walks around the corner comes back and off they go to Crackland! It's illegal and it's wrong but the police allow it to continue. I'm 54 years old and remember people saying you could buy marijuana in SW when I was young. It's as though the police have allowed this activity to go on for years and years. One thing that amazes me is that until more whites moved into the neighborhood, for some reason the police, who have always been within a few blocks of the hood, could not curtail the drug activity or murders. They do what they want for who they want. Most of the public housing past 3rd street will be gone in the next 10 years anyway, but for all who don't know, all neighborhoods in DC are required by law to have public housing. Get with the program and try to come up with ways to help others who maybe can't or have never had anymore try to help them.