Sherwood's Notebook: No Time to Wait or Waste…

First was the report last week of a possible shooting at the Navy Yard. Then, on Monday, sirens wailed at Walter Reed in Bethesda. Was there an active shooter? It turns out, no, in both instances.

A reporter on the scene along Rockville Pike asked Montgomery Police Capt. Paul Starks if police were worried that officers were being overtaxed responding to alarms that may turn out to be false.

"We've always asked people to call police if they see anything suspicious," Starks responded. "Let law enforcement arrive and make that assessment."

Starks read off a list of a dozen police agencies that were involved on Monday. And he gave a shout-out to fire and emergency medical teams, too.

"It's a joint venture," he said. "Of course we're assisting our many local and federal partners here on the scene. But there's also fire and rescue on the scene. It's not just a law enforcement action."

Starks noted that "if sometime during the evacuation people get injured, get overcome with stress, fire and rescue needs to be here."

At the Navy Yard, the M Street lanes also were chock-full of local and federal law enforcement officers of all sorts. There was no chance of a repeat of September 2013, when questions arose about police response after a gunman shot and killed 12 people before being killed himself.


Washington, D.C., Maryland and Virginia local news, events and information

Virginia baker creates booming macaron business

Seeking a sickle cell cure: 12-year-old in DC is 1st patient in US to get new gene therapy

D.C. Police Chief Cathy Lanier dismissed questions suggesting the Navy Yard caller last week had acted irresponsibly, calling on evidence too flimsy. She agreed with Capt. Starks and said police know to respond in a coordinated fashion.

As Mayor Muriel Bowser stood beside her, Lanier told a bank of 25 cameras, "It appears that all of the things that we tried to correct and make go better from the last incident went very, very well [this time]."

As the Notebook has pointed out in previous columns about security, there is one response that all public safety and elected officials want to avoid. And that is the accusatory tone of being called before some member of Congress or state legislature or council where political leaders peer over a microphone and start asking, "Why didn't you do ..." questions.

■ Clueless drivers. The Notebook has a hint for some of you folks who drive into a chaotic scene and seem surprised when an officer turns you around. It happened on Monday as Maryland State Patrol officers blocked Rockville Pike at Cedar Lane just north of Walter Reed.

We were stunned at the numbers of drivers who tried to go through the roadblock as if it weren't meant for them.

Here's the hint. If you see a bunch of flashing lights and the lanes are blocked by police cars, maybe you should change course. The police officers would appreciate it.

■ Cool police. Any reader of the Notebook knows we have long criticized police who needlessly interfere with reporters and news media cameras trying to capture news of a scene. But we're happy to say Montgomery County Police were firm and clear and helpful as they managed the media throngs on Monday. One officer even apologized for asking us to move our vehicle. The officers did their jobs and the media was able to do its job.

■ Back to normal stuff. During a break in the action Monday in Maryland, someone asked about recent reports that the Washington Redskins would be blocked from returning to the District unless the team changed its name. The Washington Post reported that President Barack Obama's Interior Department, which handles the city's lease with the RFK site, opposes the team name.

That report set off a ton of other media, but here's all you need to know about the future of the team:

Owner Dan Snyder has said he would "never, never" change the team name. But his organization has begun looking around the region -- including the District -- for a new team stadium. Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe openly is wooing the team for Loudoun County. And the governor says the state won't worry about the team name.

Every D.C. mayor since Tony Williams has favored bringing the team back to the District, with a new stadium on the footprint of old RFK. The D.C. Council passed a resolution calling on the team to change its name, but despite the strong feelings of everyone involved, that is not -- not -- a deal breaker.

The city has 22 years more on its lease of the RFK lands for athletic activities. The Obama administration only has about 18 months left in office. It has far more important things on its agenda than to open up formal discussions about the team returning to the District. So everyone take a deep breath. Whether you think the team should or shouldn't return to RFK -- and how the name ought to fit into all that -- the decisions are a long way off.

Tom Sherwood, a Southwest resident, is a political reporter for News 4.

Contact Us