Crime & Punishment, Opinion

Opinion: Why We Worry About Radios and Openness

Photo courtesy of Chris Rief aka Spodie Odie
Nacho #24
courtesy of Chris Rief aka Spodie Odie

If you want a clear explanation about why some of us were – and are – irked by the MPD moving to encrypted police radios, well, look no further than last Friday’s court decision ordering the MPD to release documents that DC law says they must.

It’s not the fact that there was a fight over releasing documents; in the FOIA world there’s a constant struggle between the ‘forces of openness’ and the government employees who don’t always want to share information – whether it because they want to keep it secret or because they just don’t think taking the time is a priority.

What is in this decision that causes worry – now that radios can’t be overheard and we’re reliant on what the MPD chooses to reveal – is the court’s finding that MPD and the city attorney walked some line between ignorance and sloth on one end and flat-out deception on the other. Judge Macaluso talks about the MPD’s decisions to withhold entire documents as sensitive and opens with “this avowal is transparently false for almost every document for which it is asserted.”

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Crime & Punishment, The Daily Feed

Six shootings in DC stain Halloween fun

Photo courtesy of
‘Nacho #19′
courtesy of ‘Chris Rief aka Spodie Odie’

While you might have heard first about the 11pm shooting on M Street in Georgetown, there were five other shootings in DC last night.  Two were shot in Petworth at Georgia and Decatur; another at 9th and Crittenden; a fourth was shot near the New York Avenue Metro, by 1st and M Street NE, and another was shot on the 4400 block of 7th St SE.

The Police are looking for information in all six shootings, if you have any information concerning any of the events, you can call them at 202.727.9099.

While at least four of these incidents did not result in a fatality, the uptick of assaults with a deadly weapon is certainly concerning.

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Crime & Punishment

Opinion: Sulaimon Brown is right

Photo courtesy of
courtesy of ‘dreamsjung’

I’m gonna just let you recover from the mental discord that reading that headline will give you. Maybe it’ll help if you muse on the old saying that even a broken clock is right twice a day, though in the modern digital age it’s more like a broken clock is still useful as a paperweight.

Be that as it may, I wanted to say that I think Brown is right and I support his response to being pulled over by an unmarked police car. Brown says he initially cooperated but refused to get out of the vehicle when the plainclothes individuals asked him to do so.

“You guys pull up, you’re wearing all black. There were no sirens. Nothing…You expect me to get out of the car in the middle of the night? No.”

I say, good for you Brown. The practice of traffic stops by law enforcement who can’t easily be distinguished from someone who bought a $5 flashing light off the internet is a misguided and dangerous one. When I was growing up in Florida there were numerous occasions when criminals used different techniques to get people to pull over and robbed and killed them. Stories of people pretending to be cops in order to rape or rob turn up hits in the thousands on Google.

LegalMatch suggests someone concerned about an unmarked stop do exactly what Brown did – stay in the car and call 911. The local police force can certainly send over  a marked car; I haven’t seen a traffic stop on the side of the road that didn’t have 2+ patrol cars involved in I don’t know how long. Departments are well aware of the issues involved and several will confirm they avoid using unmarked cars for traffic stops if at all possible. According to a 1996 legal brief, DC “police regulations only allow plainclothes police to enforce traffic violations when they are “so grave as to pose an immediate threat to others.””

So here’s the only time  you’re likely to read this in the media: You should pay attention to Sulaimon’s example and follow it. Be careful.

UPDATE 4:43p: WaPo’s Mike DeBonis has placed the arrest report up on DocumentCloud and, as he says in his post about it, it seems to match Brown’s description of the events with only a minor difference. It’s unfortunate that the officers on scene seemed not to be acting in line with the policies purported in the 1996 document linked above, though it’s not clear Brown informed them he was dialing 911 – which, if you ever find yourself in that circumstance, you should be sure to tell the folks attempting to detain you. Personally I’d repeat it once I was on the call to 911 so it would be heard by 911 and recorded.

Crime & Punishment, History, Life in the Capital, The District, We Love Drinks

Breakin’ the Law: Prohibition in DC

Garrett Peck
Garret Peck (photos by the author)

Wednesday night I attended a talk on Prohibition in DC by local author Garrett Peck. He’s got a new book on the subject, developed as a result of his research for his first book, along with the knowledge he’s amassed leading the Temperance Tour. Much as it is now, DC was a playground for politicians who wanted to try out new rules. Prohibition was thus imposed on the District in 1917 by politicians who, privately (and sometimes publicly) didn’t themselves care much for or about the law.

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Adventures, Crime & Punishment, Eat Like Me, Food and Drink, History, Music, Petworth, The Daily Feed

Bethesda Row Restaurant Week: 04/11 – 04/17

Photo courtesy of

‘Bethesda Lane’ courtesy of ‘Payton Chung’

Bethesda Row’s Spring Restaurant Week kicks off this Monday, April 11 and runs through Sunday, April 17. Participating restaurants include: American Tap Room, Café Deluxe, Jaleo, Lebanese Taverna, Mamma Lucia, Mon Ami Gabi, Parker’s American Bistro, Raku, and Redwood Restaurant and Bar, who will offer two course lunches for $15 and three course dinners for $30.

Standouts in these pre-fixes include American Tap Room’s Open Faced Meatloaf Sandwich, Raku’s Green Tea Crème Brulée, Redwood’s Crispy Salt Cod Croquette and Jaleo’s Ensalada Verde con Queso Idiazábal (mixed greens with Idiazábal cheese, spanish anchovies and garlic anchovy dressing). Diners can preview the restaurant week menus before making reservations at the Bethesda Row website.

In addition to these fabulous meals offered at low prices, Bethesda Row is hosting an online contest to win a $250 dinner certificate to Redwood restaurant.
Arlington, Crime & Punishment, The Daily Feed

Robbery at BBT Branch in Rosslyn

Photo courtesy of
‘[116/365] Piggy Bank’
courtesy of ‘pasukaru76′

ARLNOW is reporting that the BBT branch in Rosslyn was robbed this afternoon by two men, one of them supposedly armed with a gun. The men fled the scene and dropped the money when a marking dye exploded in the bag as they passed the Holiday Inn parking lot.

Business and Money, Crime & Punishment, The Daily Feed, Ward 5, WTF?!

Dispatches from Ward 5

Photo courtesy of
courtesy of ‘mediaslave’

The Ward 5 lists were active this week, with several things going on to talk about.

Numerous discussions ensued across both the Eckington and Ward 5 lists after the Truxton Circle murder of Billy Mitchell, who was on his way home from the theater when he was shot at the corner of North Capitol and Florida NW while trying to help a woman involved in a conflict with a man, who in turn was the shooter.

In addition to the typical point-scoring and debates about gun control and concealed-carry, there were numerous calls for additional steps to make that specific area safer, including neighborhood watch groups, coordinated dog-walking groups, a surveillance camera, etc. There will be a vigil held for Mitchell at the site of the shooting at 6PM tonight, followed by an emergency public safety meeting with the Fifth District police and Ward 5 Council Member Harry Thomas at Wesley AME Zion Church at 1712 North Capitol Street. Continue reading

Crime & Punishment, The Daily Feed, The District, WTF?!

Heavyweight DC lawyer vs. the DC judicial system

Photo courtesy of
‘Nacho #19′
courtesy of ‘Chris Rief aka Spodie Odie’

Via Legal Times comes this story about a DC lawyer who was arrested for “disorderly conduct” (after insulting a police officer), was asked to pay $35 at the station and forfeit the right to a hearing or be taken to the District’s central cellblock. He did so in order to avoid being taken, as they say, downtown, but is now suing the DC government, and the specific officers personally, on the basis that the “post and forfeit” procedure is neither bail nor fine and is therefore unconstitutional. The suit demands $1.2 million in damages for the lawyer and an additional $700,000 for his wife.

You might be rolling your eyes at this point at the idea of a lawyer kicking up that kind of a fuss over a $35 fee; this is the town that brought us the Infamous Pants Lawsuit, after all. But when I read the LT item, the lawyer’s name, Hamilton P. Fox III, sounded familiar, so I did what any self-respecting web writer would do: I Googled.

Hamilton Fox was an assistant prosecutor on the Watergate Special Prosecution Force. He was an investigator on the House Committee on Standards of Official Conduct in the 1983 Congressional page scandal. He was a defense attorney on appeal for Jonathan Pollard, the naval intelligence employee convicted of spying for Israel. My point is: this guy actually DOES have better things to do than sue the District over $35. And this IS the risk one takes as a police officer in the District: that the guy you arrest under broad discretionary authority that may or may not stand up to judicial scrutiny might actually have the legal chops to call you on it. Continue reading

Crime & Punishment, News, The Daily Feed, The District

Cause of death released in DC9 case

Photo courtesy of
‘St Elisabeth’s Hospital – Surgical reports’
courtesy of ‘spiggycat’

This afternoon the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner released the cause of death of Ali Mohammed. Mohammed died outside of the DC9 nightclub on October 15 after an altercation. The report classifies the death as a homicide, and lists the cause of death as “Excited Delirium Associated With Arrhythmogenic Cardiac Anomalies, Alcohol Intoxication and Physical Exertion With Restraint.”

A quick bit of research indicates that “excited delirium” is a medical condition often associated with drug use that causes aggressive behavior and violence, as well as unexpected physical strength and hyperthermia. Excited delirium often leads to death by hyperthermia, with body temperatures reaching 105 degrees. While excited delirium is associated with drug use, there has been no information released regarding any toxicology reports, other than the “alcohol intoxication” listed in the cause of death.

The Mohammed family released a statement earlier this afternoon, noting that the death was ruled a homicide and stated “[t]his report also reminds us that Ali suffered a cruel and senseless death.”

The homicide ruling does not immediately imply that murder charges will be filed in the case. From the Medical Examiner report, it’s difficult to determine who, if anyone, could face charges. The murder charges initially filed against DC9 employees were since dropped.

It appears as though Mohammed’s death might not have occurred had the altercation at DC9 been avoided, but there has been no indication that the death was the result of a beating, as initially stated by Metropolitan Police Chief Cathy Lanier.

Adventures, Crime & Punishment, Food and Drink

Thief! Silly Things People Steal From Restaurants

Photo courtesy of
‘Day 303/365 – French Twofer (Deux Pour?)’
courtesy of ‘Kevin H.’

A while ago I was sitting at the bar at Stardust (RIP, I miss that place!) and the bartenders were telling my friend and I all about the people who would steal the salt and pepper shakers right off the tables. Stardust was known for quirky condiment containers, like two pigs dancing, or cactus-shaped shakers. You get the idea. And ever since that conversation I’ve been interested in whatall people steal from restaurants.

So I asked around, and behold, dear reader, a list of the ridiculous things that people steal from restaurants around DC.

The scene: Cafe Saint-Ex
Items Stolen: The bust of the Roman God Mercury, an antique three foot tall ash tray, patio plants
Jasmin Quioco, the Director of Community Outreach at Cafe Saint-Ex, reminisces, “A few years ago I was setting up for brunch and saw a guy struggling to bring in a covered object into the restaurant. When I opened the door, he said, ‘I’m really sorry, my friends and I had a few too many drinks last night and this ended up in my apartment. We love Saint-Ex and wanted to bring it back.’ They had stolen the heavy bust of Mercury that sits next to table 4.”

The scene: Whitlow’s on Wilson
Item Stolen: Harry S. Truman
Manny Fliakas, General Manger of Whitlow’s, remembers, “Last year, I received a manila envelope with no return address and inside was a framed picture of Harry S. Truman. We had this picture on the wall by the main bar and it was stolen four years prior. The letter attached stated that the individual who stole it was cleaning out their house and preparing to move when they came across the picture. They apologized for their childish actions and assured me they had become a better person.”

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Adventures, Crime & Punishment, The Daily Feed, WTF?!

Haven’t You Heard Of Method Acting?

Photo courtesy of
courtesy of ‘philliefan99′

According to the Washington Examiner, a middle aged man was arrested on Halloween night for wearing a diaper and shouting profanities at children while they were trick-or-treating in Ocean City, MD. Maryland State Police report that assailant was cursing at adults and children and trying to get them to give him candy.


Adventures, All Politics is Local, Business and Money, Crime & Punishment, News, People, The Daily Feed, WTF?!

Lesbians can’t keep their hands off the Ravens’ cups

Photo courtesy of
‘Go Long’
courtesy of ‘Mylar Bono’

The Huffington Post and Washington Blade are reporting that during the Ravens’ September 26th game, a lesbian couple was unfairly thrown out of M&T Bank Stadium. There are mixed reports as to why the couple was ejected from the stadium. The Ravens claim that the couple was asked to leave because they removed concession stand merchandise (a plastic cup) without paying for it. The couple contends that they were thrown out because of their public displays of affection.

Adventures, Crime & Punishment, News, The Daily Feed

I’m Smell Chocolate! Chocolate, Chocolate, Chocolate!

Photo courtesy of
courtesy of ‘OakleyOriginals’

Yesterday at Dulles International Airport, a Custom and Border Protection’s drug-detecting pup sniffed out approximately 21 pounds of marijuana hidden within packages of chocolate. The drugs were on their way to NYC from Mexico City and had an estimated street value of $17,000.

Adventures, Crime & Punishment, News, The Daily Feed

Armored Truck Robbed in Georgetown

Photo courtesy of
‘SWAT – Restoring Honor rally’
courtesy of ‘theqspeaks’

At around 2:20pm this afternoon, four armed and masked individuals robbed an armored truck stationed across the street from the Georgetown BB&T Bank. TBD reports that the suspects escaped with an unknown sum of money and, fortunately, no one was injured.

MPD is reportedly searching for four black males in a black Dodge Magnum with dark tinted windows, shiny wheels and unknown tags. The suspects are  armed and dangerous and citizens should report any information about the suspects to the MPD.

Adventures, All Politics is Local, Crime & Punishment, News, The Daily Feed

Dude! Where’s My Ginseng?!!

Photo courtesy of
courtesy of ‘Chloester’

NBCWashington reports that two local area men have been found guilty of harvesting and hunting for wild herb ginseng at Savage River State Forest. Wild ginseng touted for its anti-tumor, anti-viral, antioxidant, and metabolic effects can potentially sell for $300 per pound.

According to the Western Maryland Research & Education Center, Ginseng grows “in hardwood forests in the eastern United States on well-drained, north-and east-facing slopes with rich soils.” Sounds like the DC area is the perfect.

The greatest threat to wild-simulated ginseng is human theft, also known as “hunting sang” in the Appalachian region. Currently, Ginseng is  listed by the Convention for International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), and harvesting, buying, collecting and selling ginseng requires proper documentation and permits.

Crime & Punishment, Essential DC, Life in the Capital, Technology, The District, The Features

Protecting Your Bike

Photo courtesy of
‘Next time, lock up the entire bike’
courtesy of ‘billaday’

I love bike riding. And I love bike riding around DC. It’s truly a fantastic mode of transportation, whether you’re headed to work or play. Since moving to DC in 2006, with my Cannondale in tow, I’ve noticed a significant increase in the amount of bike traffic. I’d most likely attribute this rise to 1) increased Metro fares, 2) the addition of numerous bike lanes and bike racks, in part spearheaded by the WABA, and 3) the increase in popularity of road biking. Sadly, the increase of bike riding has also meant a parallel increase in DC bike theft, and if you’ve ever had your bike stolen, like me, you know how much of a personal affront it is and how irreplaceable your perfectly fitted and outfitted bike was. So, in an effort to prevent further bike theft and the ensuing anguish, I asked Mike Christian of Revolution Cycles for some tips and advice on how to better secure our bikes.

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Crime & Punishment, Downtown, The Daily Feed, WMATA, WTF?!

DHS Warns of Terror Threat to Metro

Photo courtesy of

courtesy of ‘erin m’

NBC4 reports that the DHS warned WMATA on Sunday of a potential terror threat to the Metro system. According to a DHS memo, an  individual obtained a Turkish visa to come to the States and perpetrate a bombing on a Metro station.  The memo stated that this information has “low credibility” and that DHS has little information as to the specific date or target for the attack, or  if the individual in question is even capable of carrying out a bombing.

All Politics is Local, Crime & Punishment, Life in the Capital, News, The Daily Feed, The District, WTF?!

Help Solve Animal Cruelty Cold Case In Northeast

Photo courtesy of
‘McGruff looks pissed’
courtesy of ‘MikeOliveri’

Some disturbing news coming out of the Northeast today. Apparently, Washington Humane Society officers are heavily investigating two cases of cold-blooded animal murder and they’re looking for help in solving these senseless and heinous crimes.

In April an innocent opossum and her ten babies were stoned to death in an alley behind 16th Street, NE and a month later an innocent cat was brutally found stoned to death on the 200 block of Maryland Avenue, NE.

National studies have shown that individuals who commit these senseless acts of animal cruelty are seven times more likely to commit other anti-social acts such as violence towards people. So this individual or individuals pose a risk to the entire DC community.

If you have any information regarding these heinous crimes, please contact the Humane Law Enforcement Department at 202-BE HUMANE. All calls are confidential.

All Politics is Local, Crime & Punishment, Essential DC, History, Life in the Capital, News, Special Events, The District, WMATA

NTSB Finds Systemic WMATA Safety Issues From Red Line Crash Investigations

Photo courtesy of

courtesy of ‘Chris Rief aka Spodie Odie’

Today in a five hour long hearing, (not including a one hour long lunch break) the NTSB released their findings on the 2009 Red Line crash. Chairwoman Hersman kick off the hearing with opening remarks that highlighted the thoroughness of the report, the importance of its findings and immediate need for WMATA to take action to rectify what Hersman called “WMATA’s anemic safety culture.”

As Tom pointed out earlier today, many of the findings had already been unearthed. NTSB Engineer Payan spent a good length of time both describing and fielding questions about the failures of the Automated Train Operation (ATO) system and the WEE-Z bond sensors that caused the first train to essentially disappear from the track circuitry sensors and made the second train speed up and, tragically, slam into the first train. Prior to the crash, circuit failures like this were happening so often that WMATA employees became desensitized to the alerts and would ignore them. More shocking is that since the crash, WMATA has identified about 290 track circuits capable of this same failure and has not replaced them. No word on if WMATA is currently paying more attention to the alerts. Continue reading

Arlington, Crime & Punishment, The Daily Feed, WTF?!

Say Cheese and Pay Up

Photo courtesy of

courtesy of ‘Chris Rief aka Spodie Odie’

Remember those red light cameras that Arlington installed for your safety, last month?  Well, today is the day of reckoning. Arlington PD will start issuing $50 infractions to drivers the cameras catch blowing red lights.  To be fair, this is a significantly lighter fine than would be issue by a cop catching you doing the same, and you won’t get any points on your license.  Remember, citizens, these cameras are there for your safety, and are in no way a revenue generator for the city’s budget.

And, in case you’re wondering, the cameras are at the intersections of Lee Highway – Fort Myer Dr, and  Lee Highway – North Lynn St.