SAMs Test Counterfeit Knowledge at National Museum of Crime & Punishment

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

By Rachel Rose Hartman

The DowntownDC BID's Safety/Hospitality and Maintenance (SAM) employees tested their ability to detect counterfeit merchandise last week during their employee of the month meeting, which was held at the National Museum of Crime & Punishment (575 7th Street NW). 

As part of a fun exercise, select SAMs were asked to identify authentic Coach and Longchamp purses, UGG boots and more inside a new exhibit at the museum that opened this summer, "Counterfeit Crimes: Are you Part of the Black Market?" The results proved it can be difficult to spot a fake. 

Museum Crime Scene Investigation (CSI) Coordinator Isauris Bravo told the SAMs—who work 362 days a year to keep Downtown clean and safe—that the growth in popularity of the museum and its forensics programs coincide with the proliferation of crime investigation shows on television. The museum offers a variety of interactive workshops taught by forensic scientists which focus on fingerprints, blood spatter, DNA and other subjects. The workshops are designed, in part, to expose "myths about forensic science" propagated on television, Bravo said. 

These popular workshops offered by the museum are in addition to the museum's regular exhibits, which include notable items such as serial killer Ted Bundy's car, Bonnie and Clyde's getaway car and mobster Al Capone's recreated jail cell.

The museum also holds regular special events. This Halloween, the museum will once again remake its top floor into a haunted house for "Fright at the Museum," deemed by many to be one of the scariest haunted houses in the area.

[Advance timed tickets for "Fright at the Museum: Dead Men Walking" are available for purchase ($30) here. Guests must be at least 17 years of age.]

Last week's SAM meeting was held in the museum's "America's Most Wanted" studio, where the long-running television show was formerly taped. 

There, SAMs heard a recently submitted letter of appreciation for Safety/Hospitality SAM Supervisor Charlie Stevenson, who helped a DowntownDC guest with directions.

[Read more SAM letters of appreciation here.]

SAMs last week also received updates on the fall season, changes to dress code from summer to fall, and upcoming events.

As is customary at each monthly meeting, two SAMs were recognized for their outstanding service the previous month. August's winners were Safety/Hospitality SAM Crystal Saunders and Maintenance SAM Kareem Bell.

Crystal Saunders has been employed as a SAM for 13 years. She was recently shadowed by a Scripps-Howard Foundation reporter for a day and featured in a series about unique jobs in Washington, D.C. Saunders said the people she encounters each day as a SAM as well as her colleagues make her job that much more fulfilling. "I love my coworkers," she said. Saunders, who was born and raised in Washington, D.C., enjoys spending free time with her 18-year-old daughter Derika. 

Kareem Bell is a new SAM who was part of the Spring 2014 SAM Maintenance class. He said he was surprised by the honorific. Bell enjoys "keeping the streets clean" and hearing how much the public "appreciates the work I do." Bell said visitors often ask him for quick food recommendations, so he regularly points them to Five Guys, Shake Shack and Nando's. When not working, Bell enjoys taking his nephew to football practice, spending time with family and simply trying to "enjoy life."