Liveblogging the storm: Show some compassion

Now don't get me wrong, I don't ask a whole lot from the DC Police. I know they are busy with crime, I get that. However, I also know that the job of a police officer is 90% dealing with day-to-day issues that don't ever make the front page, and generally don't even result in an arrest. Just about 15 minutes ago, outside my window I saw a man stumble and fall into a snowdrift in the middle of the street. He tried to get up a few times, and was staggering. I'm going to guess he may have been drunk, that isn't all that uncommon in these parts. He'd get up, and fall down again into the snow. He then got up, and stumbled out into 16th street. He continued to walk up 16th street, in a lane of traffic, stumbling. I went outside, and saw him walk and fall down a few more times. With poor visibility and the snow piling up, this could result in a dangerous situation. I'd venture to guess most people driving up 16th right now aren't watching for passed out pedestrians.

As he continued to make his way up the street, I saw a MPD cruiser. I flagged it down and told the officers that there was a guy stumbling up the street, falling down in the snow. All I asked was if they could turn around and see if he was OK. My concerns were two-fold, one that he might get hit by a car, and two that he might pass out in the snow and get buried. I was met with total and complete disregard. They said "oh, so he's up and walking now, right?" to my response of "well, sort of, he keeps falling down in the street." I'm not asking for them to buy the guy a cup of coffee and make sure he gets home, just simply to go get him out of the street. Eventually the officer said, "well, we don't want traffic backing up the hill." He made U-turn, drove up the street a little bit, and then made another U-turn and drove away.

I don't want to gripe here, but this whole experience was very disappointing. To them, maybe someone stumbling in the street and falling down in a snowstorm isn't a big deal. It probably isn't. I wasn't asking for much. I would have been happy with a simple "Thanks for letting us know, we'll check it out." Instead, it was exactly what I feared, the whole, "you are wasting our time" attitude. I'm sure it's been a long couple of days. I'm not going to name names or file complaints, but I'm just saddened. I've reported my share of things to MPD before, and have generally always had a positive experience. Hopefully this was just an anomaly.


  1. Dude, you should have called 911. That's recorded. It would also bring EMTs. It would also get the attention of more than one car. Why you didn't do that right away sort of boggles my mind.

    Are you on the MPD listservs? The commanders are always instructing folks to call 911, even for suspicious stuff. Even if the operators give you the blow-off then at least you have a recording and an operator number to use when following up with the brass.

    As a local blogger, you're kind of falling down on the job.

  2. i did walk up the street to see if he was passed out in the snow or still in the street. i didn't see him. if i had seen him again, i would have called 911.

  3. You do realize this is the same police department whose officers in the past used to rob drug dealers, murder them and then cover up the crime scenes by staging it to look like a shootout between rival drug dealers had occurred.

    Do you really think they are going to care about the fate of some random pedestrian?

  4. I had a similar thing happen years ago. One rainy 4th of July, my friend and I helped a woman on an electric wheelchair to the metro station. we had to cross a busy intersection and the MPD officer 'directing' traffic shrugged us off when we asked for help crossing the few yards of the intersection. nice message -"it's not my job..." thing is, it wouldn't have happened anywhere else in this country. at least not in the places i've lived.

  5. That is pretty weak of the cop not to care, but, if you really cared, why didn't you help the guy out?

  6. I appreciate your story. Sometimes police don't care. Sometimes they do. It's a tough call to get involved in things when police are trained to deal with these sort of situations. In their absence, I guess one has to look after oneself, and yet still try to be compassionate.

    I've had very mixed results when I've approached police officers with issues/ situations on the street. This past summer, when I lived in Chinatown, I had a little run in with some cracked-out half-blind guy on H street (He got in my face for no reason yelling gibberish..I stomped, yelled, and generally played all mental for a minute to get him to step back, etc.. and then walked away)...Knowing that there are always cruisers on 7th street, I politely walked over to one of the officers there, told him about the half-blind crackhead on the loose and he immediately radioed over and had someone check it out. I thanked him. he thanked me for telling him, and a cruiser headed over there. All in all, not a bad outcome.

    P.S. I've found it to be sometimes very useful to act temporarily insane with those who try to intimidate. It's much more fun than being afraid.

  7. During the first storm I called 911 for help with getting a drunk homeless man to a shelter since the hypothermia vans weren't running, but luckily a nice police officer came to the scene, tracked the guy down and found out he was on his way to a shelter a block away. So there are a few good cops out there, not all, but some.

  8. seriously?

    This is why I dislike the cities. I know it's snowing like crazy out but isn't there something else you could do than call the cops?

    Your calling the cops over tells the world the following:
    1. YOU are too busy/important/lazy/warm/whatever, to deal with it yourself. YOU could have gone and helped him or walked his ass home or gotten him a cup of coffee, couldn't you? What else were you going to do today? What ever happened to helping your fellow man?

    2. You're a douche. You think the cops don't have better things to do today? There's no advantage to driving a cop car in the snow lemme tell ya. He was probably MUCH safer stumbling his ass down the middle of 495 than in that cop car.

    Just sayin'

    But hey, who am I. Just another white collar redneck from northwestern MD; wtf do I know? I just got done shoveling 4ft of snowdrifts from 4 of my neighbor's porches & driveways.

    I probably should have called the cops to help with that... ;)

  9. I've personally experienced this sort of thing before. A drunk guy was harassing people at the Red Derby last summer. I walked down to the cop who was sitting on his duff at 14th and Spring, a block away, and told him. He said, sorry - that's not my PSA (Spring Road is the border). He also said he would call someone, which he did not.

    What the hell is the point of having cops "hang out" at hotspots if they don't actually do anything when they see trouble? Not only that - when someone ASKS them specifically to deal with a problem that's happening right then, a block away?

    Being out of his PSA is such a bullshit excuse too - I am sure cops are allowed to walk a block outside their area to deal with a crime. Hell they can go to PG County now can't they?

    In my mind this is the root of the problem with our PD. Unless there are guns blazing they don't care. Unfortunately, by not caring until guns are blazing, many incidents that could have been averted, are not. And it simply contributes to the sense of lawlessness in the city. If people thought there was any threat of police action they might not be so likely to be dumbasses.

    Of course, when it comes to throwing snowballs, it's a totally different story...

  10. Tough talk from a transplant like you who is quick to dial 911 when shit goes downFebruary 12, 2010

    Yeah but you and your pasty little friends were the ones who first started throwing the snowballs solely for the purpose of attracting attention towards yourselves.

    Nobody who is actually from this city wants to see your childish attention seeking behavior like snowball fighting and no pants wearing on the subay

    Go play a game of urban kickball on the frozen Potomac you assholes.

    Before you start playing just make sure you do plenty of warmup exercises such as jumping jacks and running in place as soon as you are out on the ice.