Bill Duggan was fuming Saturday when he heard that a police officer reported to the front of his Madam's Organ bar during an early morning burglary.
The problem: The burglars were in the back of the establishment and the officer stayed in the front, according to Duggan's alarm, which is equipped with motion detectors.
While the officer waited outside, the burglars were deliberate in their raid. They unhooked the stereo and carefully selected their favorite CDs and bottles of alcohol from the Adams-Morgan nightclub and restaurant at 2461 18th St. NW.
After that, Duggan didn't think he could get any more frustrated. Then on Saturday night, he tried to dial the 3rd District headquarters at 673-6815. The number rang and rang and rang. Then rang some more.
Turns out, the number wasn't working.
"I just wanted to tell them that the next time there is a burglary, can they please send someone to the back," Duggan said. "I run a business. Their business is much more important than my business. But I couldn't imagine having my phones down for any period of time without pushing the panic button, and they are in the business of panic."
The line wasn't working during the day yesterday, but by early evening it seemed to be fixed.
That number is one of several at the station house in the 1600 block of V Street NW. But the nonworking number is the one on contact cards that police distribute to the community.
Capt. Bolling Smith of the 3rd District station house said the phone hasn't worked for more than a week. He wasn't sure why it hasn't been fixed. He said yesterday he would make sure that the number was repaired within the next few days.
He also said he would instruct officers to write a different number on the contact cards. He said people with emergencies should call 911. All nonemergency callers should dial 727-1010. But yesterday, the dispatcher at that number connected callers with the nonworking 3rd District number.
"If it wasn't on the top of someone's priority list, it is now," said Executive Assistant Chief Terrance W. Gainer, who said that the phone line hasn't worked since Oct. 1 and that 3rd District officers did call police headquarters about the problem, but that nothing was done.
He also said they are investigating why the police officer didn't report to the back of Duggan's bar.
Although police are normally very helpful in the Adams-Morgan neighborhood, the phone line being down is "unacceptable," said Eleanor Johnson, an advisory neighborhood commissioner. She said more resources need to be allocated in Adams-Morgan toward public safety.
Duggan tried again to get through to the police on Monday night.
"I let it ring for 27 minutes," Duggan said. "I just left it ringing while I was doing other stuff."
He asked a dispatcher at 727-1010 to help him. The dispatcher couldn't get through either and had to call the D.C. mayor's command center--which also had the nonworking number listed.
He finally got through by calling random numbers at the station house. After trying eight different combinations, he reached someone.
On Monday, his alarm sounded again. This time police caught the burglars.
But the number at the station house was still down. He said he couldn't even call police to say thank you.