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Taking note . . .

Observations about public affairs in the nation's capital

by the editor of The Common Denominator

METRO POLICE PRESENCE: With calls for greater police presence in vogue throughout the District, Metro officials are almost assured of widespread support for their plan to build a huge new police substation at the Fort Totten Metrorail site.

The plan, announced July 3, would replace the Metro Police force's current, overcrowded substation at 900 Franklin St. NE with a three-story, 18,500-square-foot structure designed to support 140 officers.

In addition to supporting scout cars and foot patrols, the $5 million facility also is expected to house training, motorcycle and bicycle units. The substation will feature space for community meetings, similar to the Metropolitan Police Department's community rooms, detective offices, administrative offices, crime scene and evidence storage space, locker rooms and a gym. A small vehicle impoundment lot also is planned for the site.

"The new station will give the Metro Transit Police Department the adequate physical resources required to continue to provide effective policing in the 21st century," Metro Police Chief Polly Hanson said in a written statement.

What the new station will give its residential neighbors in Ward 4 and Ward 5 is the security of a nearby police station and a show of force - even though the Metro cops' major responsibility has nothing to do with community policing. The Fort Totten Metrorail station, near South Dakota Avenue and Riggs Road in Northeast Washington, is located near the boundary of MPD's Fourth and Fifth police districts, which are divided between two different Regional Operation Commands. The area's "hinterland" status in MPD's jurisdictional scheme has sometimes been blamed for attracting nefarious activities that end up plaguing neighborhoods for years.

Metro's Board of Directors plans to hold a public hearing, as yet unscheduled, on general plans for the substation and to release its subsequent staff report for public comment. Funding for the station already is approved as part of Metro's fiscal 2003-2008 Infrastructure Renewal Program budget.

Copyright 2003, The Common Denominator