No Dedicated Weekend Security at Eastern Market

Public Safety Arrangements Generate EMCAC Discussion

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Customers shop at the Eastern Market Farmer's Market, May 2020. Photo: CCN/E.OGorek

Eastern Market does not have on site security services during weekly market hours or on weekends, the Department of General Services (DGS) Market Manager Barry Margeson reported at the Nov. 18 meeting of the Eastern Market Community Advisory Committee (EMCAC).

Weekend security is provided by DGS Protective Services Division (PSD) officers, who drop by each weekend “to check in and help out as required for a short amount of time,” said Margeson. MPD officers also regularly walk through the area.

“Unfortunately, there is not the money for them to come by on the regular basis that they came by in the past,” Margeson stated. 

EMCAC Co-Chair Chuck Burger pointed out that the District Special Events Task Group Special Events Planning Guide requires applicants for a street closure permit to have police presence any time a portion of the Special Event remains active on the street, including during setup, breakdown and cleanup activities. Burger pointed out that the lack of security during a street closure by a city agency seemed inconsistent with these regulations. 

“The city’s not even following it’s own best practices when it comes to street closing, and that’s kind of disturbing,” said Burger at the meeting.

The Hill Rag has reached out to DGS for comment.

Chair of the Tenants Council Anita Jefferson pointed to several alarming incidents for the vendors on the 200 block of Seventh Street SE. When news spread to the weekend market that Joe Biden had received 270 electoral votes, there was a great deal of shouting and running, she reported.

“At first, we didn’t know what was going on,” Jefferson said, “We couldn’t really be sure whether they were friend or foe. If they had had bad intentions running through there, there really is nothing we could have done. There is nobody there to do anything.”

Eastern Market has a security plan, stated 6B08 Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner (ANC) Chander Jayaraman, its author. That plan advised the city to install a public address system that could be used to give directions in case of an emergency. It is in need of an update, stated Mike Bowers, owner of Bowers Fancy Dairy Products, pointing out that the current plan calls for South Market merchants to meet in the Hine Parking Lot, now the site of 700 Penn.

Eastern Market is currently running a significant fiscal deficit, Margeson said during the presentation of his monthly report. Deposits made in advance of expected North Hall events have had to be returned. The Enterprise Fund will be overdrawn significantly by the end of the calendar year, he added.

Funding had been found for a bollard study, said EMCAC Chair Donna Scheeder, but there are no monies in the capital budget to implement any findings. EMCAC has been asked to make recommendations for 2021 Capital Expenditures, she stated, adding that both a public address system and bollards could be a part of that list.

The Capital Expenditures fund is dedicated to improvements to building and infrastructure, and is a separate fund from the Enterprise Fund, the legally constituted repository of Eastern Market revenues.

For more information, visit EMCAC.