Gallery Place Installs Anti-Loitering Device

"The Mosquito" does not discriminate against teens

By Kriston Capps
|  Wednesday, Sep 1, 2010  |  Updated 6:06 PM EDT
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A local company is using modern technology to keep the peace in busy areas.

Pat Collins

A local company is using modern technology to keep the peace in busy areas.

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The owners of the Gallery Place commercial strip have installed an anti-loitering noise device -- one to discourage any loiterers, not just teens. Gallery Place has further urged the D.C. Council to pass an anti-loitering ordinance, something the city currently lacks.

Yesterday, Prince of Petworth posted a report about a device installed on a building at the above-ground Gallery Place/Chinatown Metro station entrance plaza at 7th and H Streets NW. That device is a Mosquito, an anti-loitering unit that emits high-frequency noise to irritate passerby who linger.

Gallery Place Partners, LLC -- the entity that owns the property that holds the Regal Gallery Stadium 14, Clyde's, Urban Outfitters and other commercial enterprises -- installed the Mosquito two weeks ago.

Youths in particular are said to be sensitive to a greater range of high-pitch sounds. But Gallery Place Partners, LLC, insists they did not install the "state-of-the-art safety feature" to target teens alone. According to Gallery Place, the Mosquito installed in the Metro plaza is set to a tone that can be heard by people of all ages.

Gallery Place said that the Mosquito will dissuade loiterers but will not hamper shoppers, diners and those seeking entertainment. Gallery Place called for new legislation prohibiting loitering -- a rule that the District of Columbia, unlike every other major U.S. city, has failed to put on its books.

A spokesperson for Transwestern, the property management company for Gallery Place, said that as of this time there are no plans to install more Mosquito units.

A Metro Transit Police spokesperson confirmed that Metro Transit Police officials met with city officials in an informational discussion several weeks ago, but he did not have any more information about those meetings. He clarified that the device is not installed on Metro property. Gallery Place is a separate entity from the Verizon Center as well.

D.C. Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs special inspections supervisor Ken Wilson said that anti-loitering devices fell outside the purview of DCRA regulations. And a Metropolitan Police Department public information officer said that police would treat such a device as a noise violation only if it exceeded a certain decibel level. He could not immediately determine the actual decibel level.

In the wake of a 70-plus person brawl at L'Enfant Metro station earlier this month that may have had its start at Gallery Place, youths who hang out in the area have been the subject of increased scrutiny. But Gallery Place said that the Mosquito "will be beneficial to all who visit" and did not specify young people as loiterers.

The Mosquito website offers a test of the sounds that a Mosquito device emits. Feel free to annoy yourself -- and find out your audio-age sensitivity! -- by testing it out here

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