Every city and town have their hot spots, and in those cities and towns you need to have a special way to deal with those issues. When you are speaking of the city of College Park, I am referring to the intersection of Knox Road and Route One. Route One being a major thoroughfare that travels north and south and Knox Road being a local road traveling east and west. At or near this corner we had four to five bars that was always hoping and full of people, and being in a college town underage drinking was definitely going on. When we would respond to alcohol poisonings later in the evening, you could almost automatically assume that the underage assumption was being done at one of this bars.
I can’t count the number of times when we would respond to fights, disturbances, robberies and once in a while shootings at or near this particular intersection in the city. Hell, we would have officers posted across the street from two bars and around the corner at the Bank of America; us and county police. Even with our presence there in the area shit would still kick off as if we weren’t around. I can remember at one point, while on field training, I approached the intersection and a fight broke out in the middle of the street on Route One. As my FTO and I rushed out of the car to break up the fight, it spilled back on to the sidewalk in front of the Cornerstone Grill and Bar establishment.
While my FTO was in the middle of this melee that kept growing, I went in to get people from behind him and saw a person just turn around to throw a punch. Thank God he missed because he didn’t look to see who it was and I felt the breeze of his fist go right by my head; it was a blur for real. It was at that point I learned that jumping into the middle of a fight, while it is going on, is ABSOLUTELY not a good idea. We’ve had officers get hit in the head with beer bottles and physically assaulted themselves jumping into active fights. So when attempting to going to break up a physical altercation between two or more individuals, make sure you use your head and don’t just jump in. You head might get used as a punching bag!
This same area was also known for a hot spot for property being destroyed and damaged due to riots after Maryland-Duke basketball games; or for whatever other reasons students and residents decided to cause mayhem. Within the last couple of years of my time there, we were also responding to shootings, which began to increase all over the area. Many foot chases began here in this area, vehicle pursuits sometimes would begin in this location, DUI arrest were prevalent and at one point most of our criminal arrest and citations were in this exact area. Fake ID’s were a big violation for a period along with bouncers having warrants and allowing some of the underage students, especially girls, into the bars. I’ve had beer bottles thrown at me from beer balconies and found myself patrolling the area with a FN303 (Pepper Ball Gun – Less Than Lethal) when shit got that out of control.
When the WAWA was there, a convenient store, that just added to the problems especially when fights broke out in the College Park Shopping Center, which was adjacent to Knox Road and Route One. Many strong arm and armed robberies occurred in this plaza and almost every time our suspects would dart towards the D.C. Metro station that was located only couple miles away. Alot of the knuckleheads and criminals would use the metro station as their mode of transportation, but it would appear that later on they smarten up and find other ways to penetrate and exit the area. We would just have to adjust to the times of new ways as they would adjust to our way of doing law enforcement. If you was the officer that had to patrol this part of the city, especially at night, most of your time would be trying to be proactive to anything to happen, but wouldn’t always happen.
We had certain county officers we could count on for responses and back up, but others would just watch us from across the street or not respond at all. Needless to say our relationship with the county police was strained at times and excellent at others just like international allies. After the WAWA was stripped from the area due to financial loses it couldn’t make up, our call volume in the area dropped tremendously, but we still had the 7-11 across the street. Not too many issues happened there because our presence was heavy there just waiting for things to kick off, which you can almost count on every Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Seeing the Walk of Shame was also prevalent in this area and telling the girls not to walk alone back to their dorms seemed like it fell on deaf ears a lot. This is also the same area we would find students and residents alike passed out in the Chapel Field down the road, and some of them were women or girls not wearing any undergarments. Not a good site to see especially when she is passed out and not aware of the world around them.
This is also the area where a college student got beat by unknown officers in riot gear, which was caught on surveillance camera. That incident caused a huge ruckus and was over and down with prior to our agency getting to the area to supplement them in our riot gear. Flying through this area at over 100 mph during a chase was scary and nerve wrecking as you was always afraid of someone not paying attention before entering the lanes of traffic on Route One. I was actually surprised not too many people got hit by traffic flowing through there as much as foot traffic flooded the area. However, when the Bank of America got robbed or was being robbed you think the county police told us? Umm..no! I happen to find out by listening to the scanner after it was all said and done, but I’m pretty sure some of our superiors knew.
It goes without saying too much or going too much into it that every night you worked in the city, you never knew what Route One and Knox Road was going to bring you. Some nights it was uneventful, but other nights you couldn’t leave that place without shit happening. “Knox and One” is what our code name for it was and you knew if it was going to be a good night or a bad night depending on the issues there. However, this wasn’t the only place where our headaches were, but a good portion of our stresses was from this area.