Downtown Downtown “Neighborhood Concierges” Make More Than A Quarter Million Impressions


Tues. April 12, 2005


Washington, DC — Each spring as the Washington, D.C., tourist season ramps up, the Downtown Business Improvement District (BID) sends forth a cadre of newly graduated Safety and Maintenance workers (SAMs) to patrol the 138-block area between the U.S. Capitol and the White House. Their job, to serve and protect – albeit not in the same sense as law enforcement. SAMs serve the local community, providing safety, hospitality and maintenance assistance seven days a week to make the Downtown a more inviting, vibrant and pleasant experience for the 195,000 people that traverse the area daily. On Wednesday, April 14, 2004 at 1:00 p.m., the Downtown BID will hold a graduation ceremony for the Class of 2004 SAMs at the American Association for the Advancement of Sciences, 1200 New York Avenue NW. SAMs undergo intensive training, which ranges from two to six weeks, depending on their area of work. Hospitality SAMs participate in classroom training for two weeks where they research, explore and become knowledgeable on issues such as crime prevention and reporting, first aid and first responder training, communication skills and homeless services. Four weeks of field training with experienced SAMs follows the classroom lectures, role plays, site visits and drills. In addition to the continuing economic boom evidenced by all the new construction Downtown, these red and blue uniformed neighborhood “concierges” or “ambassadors” are among the more visible elements of the Downtown’s rebirth. Last year, the Downtown SAMs assisted more 250,000 visitors, workers and residents. Need directions? How about an escort to your car? In search of a late night snack or a shoe repair shop? The hospitality SAMs are on the job, making sure your trip Downtown is a safe and pleasant one. At the same time, maintenance SAMs are keeping the streets litter free, painting, planting flowers, hanging banners, removing graffiti and ensuring that the Downtown ambiance keeps visitors coming back. A day in the life of a SAM requires acting as “eyes and ears” for law enforcement, reporting hazards and defects on public space, providing emergency assistance, and contributing to a more attractive physical environment through partnerships with the police and public works departments as well as city and federal regulatory agencies. The SAMs present a visible, professional and welcoming face to Downtown. SAM Homeless Outreach Service Teams work with professional staff to help connect the homeless with needed services, and to discourage illegal and anti-social street behaviors. They also work with property managers to prevent encampments and aggressive panhandling in private space. The Downtown BID is a private, nonprofit corporation, whose members represent the neighborhood business sector. The organization works to support the rebirth of the city’s urban core, providing vital services (hospitality, sanitation, security, public space programming, homelessness, streetscape and transportation improvements, economic development, marketing and communications) to enhance the Downtown experience for merchants, residents, building owners, visitors and investors. Media interested in scheduling a walking tour of Downtown or an interview with a SAM, should contact Karen Sibert, Downtown BID Director of Communications, at 202-661-7560.