Closing-Time Cops

DC Police announce increase in late-night patrols of Adams Morgan following attack on gay couple

Washington, D.C., Metropolitan Police Commander Larry McCoy and openly gay D.C. City Councilmember Jim Graham (D-Ward 1), on Wednesday, Jan. 26, announced a plan to increase police deployment in Adams Morgan in the late-night hours when bars in that neighborhood close.

The announcement follows reports of attacks like the one suffered by Chuck Johnson and his partner, J.P. Singh, in mid December. As they stood in line at Pizza Mart, 2445 18th St NW, around 4 a.m. Dec. 12, another customer struck Johnson is a seemingly unprovoked melee, shouting the word ”faggot” during the incident.

”Obviously they identified us as together, as gay, to the extent that they yelled a pejorative at my partner,” says Johnson, who suffered a facial fracture and more than a month’s recovery time. ”I’m willing to chalk the whole thing up to drunken idiots in Adams Morgan.”

Given the timing of the new patrols on 18th Street NW and the surrounding areas, it’s just those sorts of ”drunken idiots” the police have in mind. The added police, about 18 additional officers wearing orange vests for heightened visibility, should have a ”huge” effect on reducing such attacks in the area, says Graham, who has been involved with Johnson’s case, as well as others. He contacted the police Jan. 11 to complain specifically about Johnson’s case — about both crime in the area, as well as a reportedly lazy police response to the incident, according to Johnson and Singh.

Graham says his complaint may have prompted the increased police presence: ”It was certainly part of it. I had been discussing with them that incident.”

Graham adds that he and fellow Councilmember Adrian Fenty (D-Ward 4) are pushing legislation to use the district’s Fiscal Year 2006 surplus funds for a larger police force, clarifying that this redeployment of officers in Adams Morgan is a stop-gap measure till more officers are hired.

”Fenty and I have introduced legislation to use surplus monies in this fiscal year to hire 500 new police officers,” says Graham. ”We really need to do that. What we’re doing now is using existing police. What else can we do? This is a priority. We think having people feel safe in their neighborhoods is extremely important, obviously.”

Follow Will O'Bryan on Twitter @wobryan.