- The Washington Times - Saturday, June 8, 2002

Diane Groomes considers the Sherwood Park community in Northeast to be her neighborhood. The D.C. police lieutenant never lived there, but she did work there and continually returns because of the people she met while on her beat. She considers them her friends.
The feeling is mutual.
"I consider her a good friend. I think everyone knows her as a good friend. I tell her things I only tell a friend. We trust each other," says Alice P. Bush, 69, of the 600 block of Ninth Street NE.
When Lt. Groomes was assigned to patrol the Sherwood Park neighborhood in 1996, she found the people to be special. The community is filled with senior citizens who have lived most of their lives there, and it has different problems from the Logan Circle area where she was assigned two years ago. She still comes back to help people in the area around H Street NE.
The H Street corridor is a depressed commercial area ravaged by the riots of the 1960s and still crime-ridden.
"The people over there were not like just community members. They were like family. I check on their houses, and I go to their weddings and graduations," Lt. Groomes says.
"Everybody around this neighborhood just loves her. She is an unusually rare person," Mrs. Bush says.
G.W. Miller, a legal instrument examiner for the Securities and Exchange Commission who meets his friends in Sherwood Park to play cards and horseshoes, says, "She wasn't rowdy with you like the other cops. She would treat you like you are a person."
The 35-year-old officer, who is high on the promotional list for captain, hopes to get promoted and reassigned to the 5th District so she can continue to work with the community.
Lt. Groomes helped petition the city to build a new community center because many of the residents were shut in and did not have access to good shopping and good restaurants or places to meet.
She says she likes people like Mrs. Bush and tried for months to take her friend to dinner. Their schedules finally jibed two weeks ago, and Lt. Groomes picked up Mrs. Bush and took her to Dupont Circle for dinner. She says they plan to go to a shopping mall next time.
"Sometimes people are trapped. [Mrs. Bush] doesn't have a car, so the next time, we'll do a shopping spree for her," Lt. Groomes says.
She and Mrs. Bush got to know each other better when they helped petition the city to build a new community center in the park at 10th and G streets NE, across the street from Mrs. Bush's home, so the senior citizens and children would have a place to go. Construction on the center began about a month ago and is expected to be completed in about a year.
Dorothy Randall, 74, who has lived 12 years in Capitol Hill Towers, a senior citizens dwelling at 900 G St. NE, says Lt. Groomes still comes by to make sure the residents are doing well. "She's always been helpful," Mrs. Randall says.
"She comes back and says, 'How are you guys doing?' She's a beautiful lady."
When Lt. Groomes first began working in the community, drug users and prostitutes used an abandoned old community center. She worked with the community and the city to have it torn down.
"The druggies were there. The prostitutes were there. I got it torn down. I had Easter egg hunts there, and the community started using it," Lt. Groomes says.
"I heard the city was starting to build some [recreation] centers, and we started a campaign [to get one built in the park]. It is an ideal place for one. A lot of the kids have no place to go," Lt. Groomes says.
The officer is known throughout the department as a "street cop" who would rather be working in the community than sitting behind a desk as she had to do when she was transferred to the homicide division for a short time.
"I love patrol. I was sitting there doing paperwork. The paperwork was easy. I used to do laps on the fifth floor [of police headquarters] just to keep active," Lt. Groomes says.
She says former Cmdr. Ross Swope let her return to the Sherwood Park neighborhood shortly after he took over the homicide division. "I guess after hearing me complain, Ross Swope listened that my heart was in patrol, and he let me go," she says.
It is unusual for a supervisor to be allowed to return to an area after being reassigned, but the community petitioned the department to get Lt. Groomes back. She was reassigned to the area in 1997 and stayed there until two years ago, when she was promoted to lieutenant and transferred to the Logan Circle area of the 3rd District.
Lt. Groomes says she didn't aspire originally to be a police officer.
She was training to be a schoolteacher at Indiana University of Pennsylvania but realized during her junior year as a student math teacher that she needed to be on the streets. She changed her major to criminal justice. "It was my calling," she says.
"I was supposed to be a schoolteacher. I was going to teach math," Lt. Groomes says. "I liked dealing with kids and teaching. The math was too confining."
Lt. Groomes has become a victim of her own success; with the reduction in crime, property values in the city have increased. She lives in Maryland but is hoping to move one day near the Sherwood Park area.
"It will probably be somewhere near Mrs. Bush," she says.



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