Ever since Janet Yellen took over as Chair of the Federal Reserve, life has changed for the other well-to-do residents of her Georgetown-area, Washington DC gated community. The Wall Street Journal notes that an armed encampment has formed outside of one of her neighbor’s houses in the Hillandale community, and the federal government is paying thousands per month to rent an adjacent town home, which had at one point been equipped with a massive, brightly-lit camera on the roof, peering down on disgruntled neighbors. 7,000 pound security trucks noisily plow through the neighborhood to pick her up each morning, spilling fluids on the street in violation of Hillandale’s rules.
Upset neighbors have penned a lengthy list of complaints about the uniformed, taxpayer-funded security detail. Vans full of armed police speed through Hillandale in violation of its 15 mile-per-hour speed limit, intimidating residents. Officers behave in an unprofessional manner, loudly socializing, smoking cigarettes, and scarfing down fast food. Also, the extreme visibility of the police presence offends other homeowners, who chose the neighborhood for its strict, privately-enforced rules aimed at keeping the community quiet and aesthetically pleasing. FBI Director Bob Mueller lives in the neighborhood as well, and his security detail stands in stark contrast to the one protecting Yellen. A neighbor who chose to remain anonymous out of fear of federal retaliation told The Wall Street Journal, “Bob Mueller, who you would think would have a much more dangerous job dealing with terrorists all over the world, had people who were businesslike, didn’t socialize and waited for him outside the gate. Now we have this group, overweight, wearing the most ridiculous blue uniforms with the most ridiculous blue caps, and they have guns that are visible.”
Some residents in the area are pushing for new rules to be adopted by the gated community to prevent security outfits from renting property in the neighborhood. The Hillandale Board and Covenant Committee maintains strict rules and enforces them on the other homeowners in the area in the interest of protecting property values, as homes in Hillandale sometimes sell for millions of dollars. The president of the Hillandale board, a real estate agent, has been accused of having self-interested motives and throwing neighbors under the bus by renting a town home to the Federal Reserve.
The heightened police presence doesn’t comfort everyone living in Hillandale. Said another resident, “Some neighbors say it’s great, all the security that is in the neighborhood. But these characters are only here for Janet Yellen. They’re not going to be distracted by robbers, rapists or any other thing. Besides, these guys couldn’t catch a thief if their lives depended on it.”
A number of residents are calling for the Federal Reserve, the FBI, or an independent, third-party consultant to conduct an investigation into the security detail to see if it can be done in a more cost-effective, professional, and less intrusive manner. It is worth noting that the Federal Reserve, a private bank, was given this armed police force as a part of the USA PATRIOT Act. Under Title III, Subtitle B, Section 364 of the law, the Federal Reserve was granted armed officers to protect the bank’s property and top officials.