Local discontent over the pettiness of zero-tolerance policing has finally hit home. The police themselves are now grumbling over a new zero-tolerance policy for cops who show up late for court. Initiated by Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) assistant chief Sonya Proctor, the policy mandates that any cop more than 10 minutes late for a court appearance be labeled a no-show and formally reprimanded. At least one of Proctor’s captains, however, thinks the practice hurts morale. “If somebody just forgot to show up or something, that’s one thing. I’m not defending that,” says the captain, who requested anonymity. “But let’s say you’ve got an officer who’s working the evening shift and who’s due in court first thing in the morning. If he’s a few minutes late, that’s a no-show? Let’s use a little common sense. Half the time the judge isn’t even there yet.” No mercy, says Inspector Joseph Adamany of MPD’s court liaison office, the man responsible for enforcing the new policy: “We’ve got to get the troops to court on time. Period.”
Commuters and pedestrians apparently grew attached to the quartet of concrete lions that stood guard at the Taft Bridge over Rock Creek Park for nearly a century. Ever since the massive statues were removed in the early ’90s during the bridge’s renovation, the empty pedestals have fueled all sorts of speculation. Gary Burch, chief engineer for the Department of Public Works, says his office still receives calls about the creatures. “One rumor was that the District had destroyed them and had no intention of ever putting them back,” he reports. In fact, the beasts are ensconced in a cozy den in one of the tunnels beneath the National Mall. “They’re safe in a place where they’re away from the elements and the traffic,” says Burch. The lions’ underground exile has lasted much longer than expected because of the painstaking renovation process. It took eight months just to document the statues’ turn-of-the-century construction. Now Burch is trying to find a restoration firm “with the right sensitivity and right craftsmanship” to do the job. Burch says he expects the concrete sentinels to return to the bridge by next fall.
Two years ago, the city placed a sign by a vacant building at the corner of 8th and P Streets NW promising some sort of neighborhood renaissance. “Reclaiming the City…Investing in the People,” reads the sign, which carries the mayor’s name in bold type. The sign is still there, along with the boarded-up windows. Now, some locals have come to regard the sign as a symbol of the city’s dysfunction. “The longer it stays there collecting dust, the worse the city’s gonna look,” says David Walsh, who passes the site every day on the bus. The signs are part of the Department of Housing and Community Development’s Homestead Program, whereby the city reclaims neglected properties and sells them to families or nonprofit developers. “We’re really the solution and not the problem. The city didn’t make [the building] look like that,” says Lynn French, the program’s administrator. Willy Joyner, who grew up in D.C. and now lives near the P Street lot, says he’s hardly surprised at the inaction. “You see the name on [the sign],” he says, laughing. The former tenants now own the building and, according to French, “probably plan to start construction within the next couple of months.” But the sign will remain until then, she says, because “people who live on that block know a solution is in sight when they see that sign.”