Today, the District of Columbia’s Metropolitan Police Headquarters is located at 300 Indiana Avenue Northwest; on the same city block as The Newseum and about a block away from the Judiciary Square Metro stop. Its close proximity to a Metro stop, the National Mall, and Pennsylvania Avenue NW (Where the Capital Building resides,) helps explain some of the importance of the building historically. As I was leaving the Metro stop, I found myself looking at the National Building Museum, and as I made my way toward the HQ itself, I passed many well-dressed people, further reinforcing the implication of the hum drum normalcy and even affluence in the area.
The Metropolitan Police have been around for more than 150 years. Starting in 1790, when Maryland and Virginia both ceded land for the nation’s capital, or the “Federal City,” as it was called, it was policed by the two states in their own respective precincts for about ten years. The district initially had 10 police precincts, as opposed to the updated 7 which are located 101 M street SW, 3320 Idaho Ave NW, 1620 V Street NW, 6001 Georgia Ave. NW, 1805 Bladensburg Road NE, 5002 Hayes Street NE, and 2455 Alabama Ave SE respectively, the capital residing in District 1. On September 20, 1803, the Mayor of the District appointed the first superintendent of police, with the constables receiving regular salaries March 11, 1851. The Metropolitan Police force was officially recognized under the Presidency of Abraham Lincoln as a result of the Civil War, when the Confederates were amassing forces across the Potomac and it was suspected that Confederate sympathizers were in the capital.
One of the most interesting things I found about the building was the building’s name itself. It was named after Henry H. Daly, the officer killed in the shooting that took place November 22, 1994 at the HQ, killing FBI Special Agents Martha Dixon-Martinez, Michael John Miller, and Metropolitan PD officer Henry Daly himself, as referenced in Ruben Castaneda’s S Street Rising. An observation I made looking at the entrance was the presence of large cinder block barriers in the street leading up to the entrance, and a number of short concrete poles closer to the entrance. I’m assuming those are in place to try and prevent a vehicular attack on the building probably built as a follow up to the ‘94 attack or a post 9/11 precaution. This is only a theory, but the Metropolitan Police HQ is the only building I’ve seen with that magnitude of fortification near the entrance. Also notable was the building’s plain appearance. It looked just like the rest of the buildings on the street: flat, tannish stone structures. Parking was available at the very front of the building by the sidewalk. Two statues of eagles stood on either side of the entrance near the concrete barriers.
The combination of the building’s proximity to Pennsylvania Avenue NW and it’s likeness to the rest of the buildings on the block illustrates its importance without allowing any sort of extravagance unafforded to the rest of the buildings. The building’s history is present even in the name.