Since it's the story that won't die, I want to put in my two cents about the snowball fight.
You know what wakes you up in the morning just as good as a cup of coffee? Reading a bunch of idiots on the MPD Third District Listserv. Some people know how to bring the stupid and they do so ALL CAPS subject lines and logic that makes the invasion of Iraq look like a proof for Fermat's Last Theorem.
Here's one such shining example, from "Wanda:"
Enough with the focus on the Detective who drew his gun. It takes two!OK. Let's get a few things straight. It only takes one person to remove a weapon from a holster. This logic is wonderful, similar to "It takes two to lie. One to lie, and the other to listen." The only time a weapon should be drawn is when the possibility exists that deadly force may be required. Good examples of when an officer should draw a weapon is when confronting a suspect who may have a weapon, or when executing a high-risk search warrant. It's never acceptable to draw your weapon simply to intimidate someone. Come on, that's what showing your badge is for. You can even pull back your coat a little bit to show off the holster to say "I mean business." You don't wave the gun around like a lunatic.
Has anyone considered charging the facebook and twitter organizers with breach of the peace (disorderly conduct) and others with simple assault? In a major intersection, disrupting traffic, during hazadous conditions! I am always amazed at how "certain people" can point fingers and blame others for their actions, but use being a "Washingtonian out just having fun," as an excuse to put others in harms way.
Back to Wanda's point: Sure, it's inappropriate and illegal to throw snowballs at cars. In certain scenarios it can be dangerous to throw snow at cars. However, there's a difference between dropping chunks of ice off an overpass onto the Beltway and pelting a Hummer with some crappy unpacked snowballs. Are both illegal as per the letter of the law? Sure, but there's a little thing called judgment and it plays a huge role in law enforcement. I know by typing big words like "disorderly conduct" and subscribing to the MPD listserve, Wanda probably thinks she's an expert on law enforcement. However, does anyone actually believe that police officers arrest and charge everyone with every crime they ever see in progress? Absolutely not. Being a police officer does involve enforcing laws, of course, however the primary role is to solve problems and defuse situations so that ultimately arrests are not required.
Police used their judgment to decide that the group of people at 14th and U were not causing any serious problems. There was no reason and no point to detaining them or charging them with a crime. Doing so would only have caused more problems, taken up more time, and drained already depleted resources. Would the snowball fight been more appropriate in Malcolm X Park, for example? Sure, whatever, maybe. That's not the point. The point is that one particular police officer forgot that part of his job (whether on the clock or not, if he's going to be displaying his weapon and identifying himself as an officer) is to defuse situations and not pour more fuel on the flames. As MPD Chief Lanier has said, his first mistake was getting out of the car. Waving his weapon around was another big mistake. No one's life was in imminent danger, and by drawing his gun all he did was put himself in danger. Just imagine there had been another off-duty cop, maybe from Arlington County or the Federal government in the area. Imagine he sees this dude pulling out a gun in a snowball fight, and he draws his weapon. Next thing you know we've got a Mexican standoff at 14th and U and then the snow gets drenched in blood and it's a big mess.
So please, I'm as big of a supporter of law enforcement as you'll find. However, I'm not going to make any excuses for this guy. He lost his temper, and it's on video. I'm not going to come down on Chief Lanier for saying dude messed up. He did. Does it make sense that an experienced police officer would make this kind of, dare I say, rookie mistake? Not really. However, the man admitted to drawing his weapon because people were throwing snowballs. I believe "open and shut" are the words here.
We've also got "david" who felt like chiming in:
...at any time, did he point the firearm at anyone? No....he didn't.First off, david, you don't get paid by the period. Secondly, "RTFM." Or in this case, watch the videos. It's obvious to anyone with a clue that people were throwing snowballs at each other. It didn't look like a riot. People weren't fighting. He's a professionally trained law enforcement officer who, I should hope, can tell the difference between such things.
Whether he had it holstered or out and pointed at the ground it was facing
the same direction....down at the ground. And since people were throwing
things at him....even if it was just snowballs, he didn't know what he was
walking into. Do you think he got a "Tweet" that there was a snowball fight
on? Or do you think.....just maybe.....that there was a big fight going on
and there are people throwing things at each other and there may be bigger
more dangerous things being thrown that could be a danger to him? Is this
what was going through his head.....I don't know. But neither do
you......yet everyone assumes that he just knew it was a snowball fight. And
it stopped being a "friendly snowball fight" when the idiots started pelting
cars and anyone who strayed into their path.
Now if we could all just stop talking about the snowball fight. I'm really dying to know what's up with those White House Party Crashers and Tiger Woods.