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Four Addresses in Four Years

In December of 1980, I was appointed to the Metropolitan Police Department under the provisions of the Comprehensive Merit Personnel Act of 1978. At the time, I made a promise that seemed to be a reasonable one: to live in the District of Columbia for the duration of my employment as a police officer. . . .

I first tried to live as I was accustomed -- in a group house with some college student friends at 1239 Monroe Street NE, renting at this address for several months in 1981 at $200 per month. During August of 1981, the house was burglarized by a youth who cut a screen of an open window while my roommate was in the basement watching television. Several items of my police equipment, which was D.C. government property, were taken from the house and ultimately had to be replaced at my expense. . . .

After this discouraging experience, I decided that this housing situation was headed for problems. I looked elsewhere for suitable housing and found a Catholic University professor who owned a house at 1308 Perry Street NE, who planned a teaching sabbatical in Europe for the first six months of 1982. He agreed to let me live in his house at a low rent in exchange for my "house sitting." On Jan. 12, 1982, the day that he left for Europe, his front door was kicked in while I was at work. The house was ransacked and all of my food and clothes were stolen, not to mention some valuables that belonged to the home. I tried to burglar-proof the house, adding locks and bars, but in May of 1982 there was a second break-in. This time through a window. I lived in fear and got very little sleep for the remainder of my stay on Perry Street. . . .

I then decided that it was fruitless to try to economize, and in June of 1982, I moved into a garden apartment with barred windows on Naylor Road in Southeast. I lived at 2804 Naylor Road for two years and was continually victimized. Once my car was broken into and ransacked; on another occasion, anti-police graffiti were painted on my front door; and my mailbox was broken into twice. Some of my clothes were stolen out of a coin-operated dryer.

But worse than being a victim of crime was the off-duty stress I felt because I had the added problem of being assigned to a patrol area in which I lived. I used to run into people whom I had arrested while I was shopping off-duty. One such person caused a scene in the Naylor Road Safeway, picking up a steak and proclaiming in front of several shoppers, "I'm paying for it officer!"

. . . In the summer of 1984, I moved into a more comfortable situation into a high- rise rental apartment in upper Northwest. In July 1984, I married; the second income allowed us to afford such a move. We have been fortunate that there has not been any serious theft or vandalism; however, the adjustment to city living has been difficult for my new wife. . . .

For 41/2 years, I have made a diligent effort to make the residency requirement work for me; but I reemphasize that family and peace of mind are my first priorities. Unless there is some workable amendment to the residency requirement, I must go the way of so many others who have gone to other police departments where they have freedom to choose where they want to live and raise their families.

-- Stephen J. Porreco