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Two weeks ago, Ward 1 Councilmember Jim Graham, responding to constituents’ concerns, lobbied for and received 10 traffic-control officers to man the main thoroughfares of Adams Morgan during the busiest hours of weekend revelry. But residents had no idea that the officers would prove a bigger nuisance than the traffic jams they were hoping to prevent.
The traffic cops—-the same ones that man the major intersections in the downtown business district during weekday rush hours—-used whistles. And from 9 p.m. to 3 a.m., they stood in the busy intersections directing traffic and emitting high-pitched shrills, much to the annoyance of sleeping neighbors.
Linda Grant, spokesperson for the Department of Public Works, says that the officers were doing a fine job. They were just making too much noise while they were doing it.
“We did hear from residents that the whistles were distracting and annoying,” Grant says. “So we’ve pulled back and our next step is to rethink how to have a better program on the weekends in Adams Morgan.”
Grant says the whistles are vital to the job. They get the attention of motorists when officers are trying to direct their movements. The whistles also alert motorists to the officers’ presence in the middle of intersections. So traffic cops sans whistles ain’t gonna happen, and DPW is going back to the drawing board.
Grant admits that the plan, though well-intentioned, may have been ill-conceived. “At that hour of the morning,” she says, “I would be annoyed.”