From Matt Rhoades. Email him at matty[at]borderstan.com
Featured image: Diane Groomes at the 2012 Pride Parade on 17th Street NW. (Luis Gomez Photos)
Welcome to another of our occasional profiles of Borderstan People — interesting and sometimes even well-known people who happen to live in the Dupont-Logan-U Street area. Today’s profile Q&A is with Diane Groomes, Assistant Chief in charge of the Patrol Services and School Security Bureau for the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD).
While she is not a Borderstan resident and no longer patrols the neighborhood, she has a history in the area as the head of a Police Service Area (PSA) in Dupont-Logan, and is still known to many residents and community leaders. So, let’s call her an “Honorary Borderstani.”
Borderstan: First, a bit about your personal background. Where did you grow up? When did you decide you wanted to be a police officer?
Groomes: I am originally from Pittsburgh and moved to Washington after college to pursue a career in law enforcement. I went to college at first to become a high school math and Latin teacher, but changed majors in my junior year due to not doing well in the math department – loved the student teaching however.
Borderstan: When did you join the MPD? Were you an officer at another law enforcement agency?
Gromes: I then joined Fairfax County Police Department in 1988 and waitressed full-time in Virginia. I joined MPD in Oct 1990. I was assigned to the 4th District as a patrol officer in March 1991 – and was immediately involved in the Mount Pleasant riots.
Borderstan: You have a long history with the Borderstan community. Fill us in on exactly the positions you held as a PSA Captain. Also, what were you doing before being promoted to Deputy Chief for Patrol Operations?
Groomes: In 2000 I was promoted to Lieutenant in the 3rd District and assigned to PSA 309 — which was then Logan Circle/Dupont Circle. I also had to manage PSA 310 as well as run the Street Crimes Unit and Club Zones. I was promoted to Captain in 2004 and remained in the 3rd District. Next, after six months, I became Inspector of the 3rd District substation. In August 2005 I was promoted to the 1st District Commander. In September 2007 I was promoted to my current position, Assistant Chief of Police, Patrol Bureau
Borderstan: What’s the most rewarding part of your job… your years as an officer in DC?
Groomes: The most rewarding time of my job was as a sergeant. You still be in the field and work so closely with the officers. In the 5th District, I had a great team of officers that clearly made a difference in the area, and I also got the opportunity to start my community connections. Many of those citizens are my best friends and consultants today. I still love the community outreach work. I also love how policing has changed with technology and is based more on intelligence work.
Borderstan: What’s the most challenging part of your job?
Groomes: The Most challenging thing is when you cannot eliminate an issue totally… drug area or a robbery issue. With all actions in place and good officers, crime still persists. There is also the need for major social services to those that we serve daily so that they can be deterred from committing crimes. You want to totally help so many, but you learn that there are not enough resources due to the need — and also many do not accept help or want help to change their lives.
Borderstan: What does a “typical” day entail?
Groomes: A typical day entails the hours from 8 am to 10pm — vast meetings, strategy sessions and nightly community meetings. After work I spend time reading materials related to policing, as well as newspapers to keep up to date — while hitting the gym late at night. However, I may may still get a call to respond due to a major incident or an incident where an officer may get injured. Some of the best days are AHOD [All Hands on Deck] weekends when I can be out on the street, answering calls, attending events and talking to officers out in the field.
Borderstan: What recommendations or tips do you have for citizens to help them stay safe? What can citizens do to become more involved in MPD’s efforts?
Groomes: The best advice for citizens is the old-fashioned saying, “Be aware of your surroundings” and go with your instinct. Always pay attention to what is around you when walking home, keep focused and its good to be with others when walking late at night, especially from a nightclub venue. Always cooperate with the demands of a robber if you are attacked — don’t risk your life over money or a cellphone. Be a good neighbor and call 911 if you see something. Report it! I am a major advocate for Neighborhood Watch programs. Know your neighbors!
Borderstan: Anything else you would like to share with the readers of Borderstan about your life or working in MPD?
Groomes: I believe I am so lucky for I love the work that I do. The MPD has treated me so well and given me many opportunities and experiences as an officer. I also thank all the citizens/officers that I have been able to meet over the years that really have made my job meaningful.