Friday, May 11, 2007

Friday question of the day

Does neighborhood drug dealing affect your quality of life? Obviously, there is drug dealing in Petworth and obviously it affects us when there is a shooting. But I'm asking about day to day quality of life. I know there is an open air drug market blocks from my house and I'm not happy about it. But it is usually in the evening and I don't really see anything. So how does it affect us day to day. Are these the culprits who throw trash on the ground? I've even heard rumors that drug dealers help keep neighborhoods safe because they don't want any trouble attracting the cops. Kind of like old school Italian neighborhoods filled with mafia were largely safe of street crime. Do we have the same correlation here?


Anonymous said...

I have a couple of thoughts about your question today.

The drug dealing on my block definitely impacts my quality of life. They bring a lot more noise, traffic, and trash to the area. The dealers and their hangers-on are out late at night, yelling back and forth to each other, talking loudly on their cell phones, and often playing loud music. I frequently wake up in the morning to a bunch of trash in front of my house -- cigarette boxes, vodka bottles, and crack baggies. Most of the dealers are pretty friendly to me, but a few are a bit aggressive and will go out of their way to be unfriendly (e.g., staring hard at you, ignoring greetings, etc.). We also think that they may have put dead rats on our doorstep, and carved “I’ll kill you” on our backdoor.

The dealing also attracts more violence. Someone was shot (but not killed) in front of my home last summer. That same week shots were fired and one of the bullets went through a neighbor's window -- a neighbor who is not involved in the drug trade at all. These dealers are putting all of us at risk.

Finally, I also think it's true that they have kept petty crime down on my block. I've never had a package taken from my front porch, the car has never been broken into, and there have been no burglaries during the 2 years I've lived here.

But having protection from petty crime is not worth sacrificing our quality of life and putting everyone on the block at risk of serious violence.

Anonymous said...

wow. can i what cross-streets are near you?

Anonymous said...

i live around the corner from one of our neighborhood's biggest 24/7 drug markets. the cops come, and the dealers scatter. temporarily. like roaches when the lights come on. then they are back.. of course.. i dont speak unless spoken to. not to be judgemental-though i feel they are involved in genocidal behavior-but im not interested in having my name on the evening news.. you know, some ho hum "unfortunate" act of reprisal or something...

Markus said...

"Finally, I also think t's true that they have kept petty crime down on my block. I've never had a package taken from my front porch, the car has never been broken into, and there have been no burglaries during the 2 years I've lived here."

[chris rock]You're not SUPPOSED to have packages taken from your porch, your car broken into, or your house burglarized, you low expectations having...[/chris rock]

I don't mean that as an insult to anonymous, but his/her post is awful on a number of levels. Where do you live? Why hasn't anything been done about the dealers on your block? WTF?

For me, if there are dealers on my street, I'm blissfully ingnorant of their presence. That said, I know stuff goes on in the blocks around mine, and I think one of the unspoken impacts of dealers on streetcorners or in front yards is the danger that they could become role models to all of the young kids I see on my block and the adjacent blocks.

I think its embarrassing that people can live in Petworth and apparently know that that there is this craziness going on in front of their eyes and then either decide to do nothing about it, or to see police futility in eliminating the criminal element. There isn't THAT much other stuff going on in Petworth that officers don't have the time to become such a nuisance in the lives of dealers on corners that they pick their crap up and move somewhere else, or get out of the business altogether.

Markus said...

I think places should be named.

If you live right by a so-called open air drug market or know of one in Petworth, where is it?

And what kind of committment and what kind of arrests have the police made in that area?

Anonymous said...

I'm the anonymous who posted first and I don't feel comfortable sharing my address or block number, for a number of reasons. (See, e.g., "I'll kill you" on my door comment.)

A group of neighbors on the block is actively trying to combat the problem. We've had a meeting with Fenty, gone to the MPD meetings at ROC 801, are actively working with our ANC member, call the cops all the time, and have met with the US Attorney's Office to see if we can go after the house as a nuisance property. (The house is also a Section 8 property, so I would think it would be even easier for the government to shut down.) I struggle with how this can continue given all of the attention we've brought to the problem, but it persists nevertheless. If anyone has any ideas for what we could be doing differently or in addition to what we've done, I'd love to hear about it.

In response to Markus, the cops have made three recent arrests. After the first two, the activity seems to have slowed down -- but it's definitely still going on.

(Also, the lack of petty crime comment was in response to PoP's question -- not my "low expectations.")

K said...

I think it is pretty easy to be OMG! why don't you (neighbors, police) just make them go away! in theory. I have a house a few doors down that is dealing. It's widely known as a house that deals to both residents on the block and police. They were busted (like, doors kicked in, etc) four times right before Fenty was elected mayor but now it is back to the same old same old occasional visit by the police when people start screaming at each other or something. I don't even see the cop car that used to sit futilely in the alley watching the house any more. I don't get the idea this house is very far up there on the cops' radar right now, for whatever reasons.

From what I hear (I am relatively new to the neighborhood and older residents have told me this) the house owner rents his porch out to dealers. They've been busted a zillion times but 1- charges never stick and 2- if your two low-level dudes who are in charge of the operation get busted, you can find two more within days to take their places.

It's annoying...the sketchy people walking around at all hours (and sometimes hassling me when I garden out front), the trash, the noise, the general feeling that I can't look down that side of the street or walk that way, the fact that if you park in front of their house they will threaten you. It's all not pleasant. But I try to smile and look people directly in the eye and say hello anyway.

Anonymous said...

It's maddening when the thugs return to the street shortly after being locked up. Are these crimes not being prosecuted judiciously? (no pun intended)

Over several years, I've asked that question to city officials and have gotten no response.

Colonel K said...

Well what are you supposed to do. If you're not well established in the neighborhood, do you have a right to just march and say:

"Ai. Y'all can't hustle here no more."

I mean as concerned citizens and neighbors, we have rights to clean and crime free streets. The police are clearly uninterested in doing any serious footwork. IN the long term, we can make sure that our kids go to school and stay off the streets and we can be a bit more watchful of who's coming around the 'hood. BUT what's the short-term solution.
What can we do so that Petworth is alright for the summer. Why should my lengthy evenings posted up on the couch be interrupted by random fights, useless police floodlights, and all the BS the comes with it.

Prince of Petworth said...

These comments make me very sad and angry. This behavior is unacceptable. I will forward this thread to our new Rep. to the City Council, Muriel Bowser and see if she can do something about it.

Rich said...

Having been on a grand jury that dealt mostly with a parade of drug busts week after week, I can say that the police are arresting scores of dealers daily. However, the problem is massive, and many steps are necessary before conviction, including indictment by a grand jury and then trial.

I can't speak about all police throughout the city, but I think they generally work harder than most of us are aware. Balancing the fight against crime on one hand and the preservation of civil liberties on the other is a tough job.

Anonymous said...

Drug dealing definitely affects my quality of life. On wednesday I was sitting in my living room when I saw someone walk up my driveway which leads to nowhere. So I walked to my backdoor and proceeded to watch a crackhead hide behind my neighbor's car and get high. Did I call the police? No. The 3 or 4 times that I have called and had NO ONE show up at all has taught me that it's a waste of time. What I am now prepared to do is take a baseball bat and make these people a real crack heads. BTW I live on Park Rd on the east side of Ga. Ave. There is practically no crime on my street although it seems to be a stopping point for people who have purchased their drugs down at the Park Morton apts. Early mornings I look out my window to see people sitting in their cars getting high. And then they just drive on to work I guess?! I am less than thrilled with this situation.

Anonymous said...

hello. im the second anonymous, and i was ( and_ am talking about longfellow street, between 8th and 9th... now some real estate folks call this brightwood, but it isnt... and yes, i have called the police more than a few times.. but it is a balancing act, as i think my presence/ visible displeasure coupled with being a "newbie" tends to make me stand out like say, tofu in a steakhouse..
but i keep on reporting it because im just like that.