As I made my way back to the Metropolitan Police Department for my second trip, I took the opposite route from last time. Previously, I took a left from the Judiciary Square Metro then took a left down fifth street and walked two blocks until I took another left down Indiana Avenue. This time I inverted my previous actions, taking a right from the Metro, walked down 4th street, then took a right to find myself in front of the Metropolitan Police HQ. While there were similarities between the two, taking a walk from only two streets over made a noticeable difference.
When I made my way down 6th Street NW, I noticed a considerable number of people in suits in addition to the regularly dressed people seen around the entire city. Federal buildings were still visible from 6th of course, but there were noticeably more street vendors and traditional urban buildings and businesses around like coffee shops, bars, and restaurants; they are presumably there for the federal employees during their lunch breaks and after they get off of work.
During my trip down 4th Street I was walking through the heart of Judiciary Square. With the D.C. Federal Court on my right and Washington D.C.’s Veterans Affairs building on my left, I found myself once again looking at the front of the Metropolitan Police HQ.
As I entered, I was immediately met with a wall of barriers in the form of desks, stanchions, and metal detectors, somewhat reminding me of the security guarding the entrances to the Smithsonians. These security measures are presumably in place to prevent another major attack on the building like the one that took place in 1994, claiming the lives of two FBI agents and an MPDC detective. While comparable to the Smithsonian’s with the immediate impression of security, the atrium of the Metropolitan Police HQ was dark, lonely, and unimpressive. There were only two guards present when I walked in, once behind the desk, the other leaning on the desk talking to him. The lack of a significant security presence in the form of guards was surprising, but considering I was the only person in the atrium besides the guards, additional security is probably never necessary. Both guards turned to me, looking annoyed that I interrupted their conversation. Emptying my pockets, I put my belongings on the conveyor belt next to the detector like I would at an airport security checkpoint, and walked through the overhead detector for the inevitable beeping telling the guard my watch and belt were still on. After the guard reluctantly searched me, he asked me what I needed at the HQ. I told him I was working on a project for my writing class at American University, but he kept insisting I needed to be more specific. Unfortunately, I couldn’t be more specific than “I need to look around for a class project.” He was reasonably suspicious, so he limited my access to the first floor and the second floor atrium where we currently were.
I gathered what little I could from the atrium, with the two long hallways leading off in either direction that were off limits to me, and the bathrooms on either side of the elevators behind the security checkpoint. I took the elevator down to the first floor, and found myself to be equally disappointed. The hallways were virtually empty. I made my way through the vacant halls looking into vacant hearing rooms and locked utility closets. I assume they were placed on the bottom floor which has less security because it is easily accessible by citizens who would need to get to the hearing rooms. The only thing worth mention was the courtyard that was in the center of the building where the door was also locked and also empty. My journey inside the MPDC HQ was disappointing. However, I did learn a bit about the value they place on their security presence.