The partial restoration of the summer overtime detail seemed to put a police officer on nearly every corner in Georgetown over the weekend.

Twenty-five extra officers, supplemented by uniformed civilian police cadets, walked the streets of the popular nightlife area on Friday and Saturday nights.

They made several arrests for disorderly conduct, and a man was arrested early yesterday after allegedly driving through the area while pointing a loaded gun at pedestrians.

For whatever reason -- the police presence, the poor weather, the holiday weekend or the publicity about several assaults that had occurred when the extra patrol wasn't there -- Georgetown's businesses were relatively quiet and its streets bustling but calm.

But there was plenty going on, and the frictions that produced the rowdiness of the previous weekend were not washed away by the intermittent rain.

At one busy corner, words were exchanged when an apparently drunk young man bumped into one of a group of men hanging out on the street. In front of a restaurant, four men exchanged punches. The scuffle was short-lived. Within 30 seconds, four squad cars and several officers on foot swooped down on the men.

One longtime resident of Georgetown, out for a stroll, said she was heartened by the police presence. But for others, the additional men and women in blue came down to a question of black and white.

A middle-aged black man and a black teenager asked why the additional police weren't patrolling violence-plagued -- and predominantly black -- neighborhoods in Southeast and Northeast Washington.

And many merchants weren't happy. They said the publicity that preceded the reinstatement of the extra patrols they wanted was partially to blame for a weekend in which, they said, the volume of sales in their stores was off by as much as 50 percent.

The crowds that flock to Georgetown -- sometimes swelling to 40,000 people Friday and Saturday nights -- have brought prosperity to merchants and restaurant owners. But the pedestrian and vehicular traffic have been irritating to Georgetown residents.

For decades, community activists and officials have taken steps to limit street congestion and preserve the character of the area: prohibiting parking on M Street and Wisconsin Avenue on Friday and Saturday nights, lobbying to raise the drinking age in the District to discourage out-of-town teenagers from coming to Georgetown, and arguing against a Metrorail stop there.

Several merchants said they don't believe crowds are any bigger this season, and they don't believe Georgetown is suddenly more dangerous than in the past.

This much was clear: Visitors, residents and merchants could see the same thing and come to vastly different conclusions about what they saw.

Friday night, Washington natives Elizabeth Shreve, Karena Levy and Kate Bailey and their friend, Sari Siegel, stepped out of the Champions bar on their way to another nightspot.

The three Washington natives said the news reports suggesting increased danger in Georgetown have prompted them to avoid cutting through alleys and walking on side streets, something they used to do without a second thought. "It makes you want to come {to Georgetown} in groups," Shreve said.

Bailey said she parked in an expensive lot -- something she used to avoid -- so she wouldn't have to park on a side street.

Siegel, who is in Washington for the summer, said she isn't fazed by the publicity. She explained that she grew up in Chicago.

It was nearly midnight Friday, and Orrin Williams, 24, was standing on Wisconsin Avenue near Dumbarton Street, a brown paper bag filled with Chinese food in his left hand, a $20 bill in his upraised right hand. Williams, who is black and who was dressed in black pants and a black Los Angeles Raiders jacket, was trying to hail a cab on a night when pedestrian traffic was unusually light. He wasn't succeeding.

In five minutes, about six cabs passed him.

"I've been here 20 minutes. About eight or nine cabs have passed me by," he said. Williams, who lives near Georgia Avenue and Girard Street NW, came to Georgetown to visit a friend. He said he is an unemployed hotel worker who often does odd jobs for a homeowner in Georgetown.

"It's always like this, especially on weekends," a frustrated Williams said. He said some cabdrivers pass him, only to pick up another fare -- almost invariably a white customer -- on the same block. Suddenly, Williams bolts. "There's my bus," he said as he raced to a Metro bus that, one transfer later, would take him home.

Five minutes later a young, white female stood on Wisconsin Avenue across from where Williams had stood. Almost before she could finish raising her arm, a cab picked her up.

Christine Schuyler walked to her home on Thomas Jefferson Street at the end of a Friday night stroll. Schuyler was happy to see the increased police presence. "There are police out walking around tonight. It makes a big difference," she said. "It's great."

Schuyler said she is often awakened -- sometimes as late as 3 a.m. -- on weekend nights by the noise of carousers.

She said she and other residents have to clean up after revelers who leave litter, such as beer bottles, on the street, in yards and even on windowsills.

Early Saturday morning two police officers stood in front of the Roy Rogers fast-food restaurant on Wisconsin Avenue as a steady rain fell. An apparently inebriated man chatted with them.

Three black youths left the restaurant. The two officers eyeballed them.

As he walked away, one of the young men looked back and muttered, "You gonna follow us?" The younger officer took a step toward them, but his veteran partner gestured to him to stay.

A black teenager who watched this scene volunteered his thoughts on the increased Georgetown patrols.

"They should use them in another part of the city -- like Stanton Road {SE}, where they have a lot of drugs and violence," said Christian Boswell, 17, of Clinton.

Boswell's opinion is virtually identical to that of a middle-aged man in a Wisconsin Avenue diner, who said the additional officers should be detailed to the tougher parts of Southeast and Northeast Washington. "They're protecting the shop owners, the money," said the man, who declined to give his name.

A young woman who works in Washington and lives in Bowie sees things differently.

She said it's perfectly reasonable that additional police be assigned to Georgetown, "because the city makes a lot of money off the taxes from stores and restaurants here. It should be able to provide protection here."

In Georgetown, tension often breeds at the street corners.

Four young men gathered late Saturday night at the corner of 31st and M streets when three others wobbled toward them. One of the approaching men, wearing an orange shirt and seeming drunk, bumped into Noel Molina, 21, who pushed him.

The two snarled threats at each other, as friends of the man in the orange shirt restrained him.

A police officer raced from across the street and calmed both groups before any punches were thrown.

"That might happen two, three times a night," said Molina, of Germantown. "He was drunk. He bumped me. He didn't say excuse me or nothing. Then he was all in my face."

Molina and his friends said they come to Georgetown almost every weekend, compelled by boredom and the prospect of seeing attractive women. They try to get into clubs and dance, but usually end up on street corners because two of them aren't 21.

The youths, all of whom are black, said people often seem intimidated by their group. For example, when they cross the street, drivers at the intersection will lock their cars, Molina said.

"They look at us like we're scum, like we're bums," said Timothy Porter, 23, of Southwest Washington. Porter, an assistant manager at K mart, said, "Hey, we got jobs. They think just because they see us with a little gold, we must be drug dealers."

Several couples passed through the group, and each time at least one group member ridiculed the passersby, without provocation.

Asked why, Porter said, "We're just trying to have some fun. We want to get a reaction."

At 2 a.m. Sunday, just as bars are closing, a fight erupts in front of the Crazy Horse restaurant in the 3200 block of M Street. A crowd of about 60 surrounds four men who are fighting.

Suddenly, sirens blare, lights whir, and police officers from every direction sprint to the scene.

Four squad cars, a police wagon and a detective's car show up, along with at least a dozen uniformed officers and several plainclothes officers.

Two of the combatants flee, but the police nab the others, loading them into the wagon. Bystanders gape and murmur at how quickly the officers responded. "God, there must have been 10 cop cars," one man says, exaggerating in his excitement.

Then the crowd evaporates, beat officers return to their patrols, and calm is restored.

The whole event is over within five minutes. The street grows quiet, and another weekend night in Georgetown draws to a close.