Putting Complaints in Perspective

The following letter was sent to me by a reader and was originally sent to Councilmember Graham. The reader tells me that the Councilman has promised to send the appropriate authorities. It is really quite a sad situation all around. Hopefully, this guy will get the help he clearly needs. Has anyone else faced a similar situation? If so please tell the reader how you dealt with it.

“I am writing because we have exhausted all of our available resources and desperately need help with a mentally ill neighbor, residing. I understand under DC Law that unless he is a direct threat to himself or others, there is little the police or Department of Mental Health can do. However, the quality of life for this whole block, most particularly for the neighbors located on both sides of him, has deteriorated.

He frequently yells at passersby and his neighbors, using racial and sexual insults that must be heard to be believed. In the past, he has tried to spit on elderly women walking down the street and has begun throwing all the contents of his house onto his front steps. (I submitted a complaint for sanitation violations on 3/23/08 on the DC Government’s website). A consequence of his unsanitary living condition is we have mice and roaches in our house and must pay Orkin for regular maintenance. Letter continues after the jump.

At night, he plays his radio, TV, or vacuum cleaner so loud it can often be heard two doors down and by people outside. On these nights, there is nowhere quiet in our own house to sleep. He has thrown raw eggs at a neighbor’s house as well as his own house. He has taken to breaking glass objects on his front porch, which have showered broken glass onto our porch, meaning I can not let my dog out there any longer. His speech is incoherent, it usually involves a daughter he found out was not his and the government.

I have called Department of Mental Health on several occasions as well as the police; the responses have been inconsistent but everyone who has come out agrees he needs mental help. Last spring, Department of Mental Health brought him in for three days of psychiatric evaluation and he was doing better for several months. If they would re-evaluate him or simply ensure that he takes his medication (which, presumably, they prescribed), I am confident things would improve.

All of this would be stressful in itself but with a baby due in July, we are terribly concerned for the future (not to mention my being unable to get any sleep) and implore you to assist us in any manner you are able. I truly appreciate your time and attention to this matter.”

10 Comment

  • Access to mental health care in this city is woefully inadequate for people of means. I can only imagine what it is like for the poor or indigent!

  • Just because he is mentally ill does not exclude him from having to obey laws. This city makes it woefully inadequate for law abiding citizens to have a decent quality of life here.

  • how does this person get by? how does he make mortgage, utility, tax payments? how does he get food? It’s not cheap to live in this city and as you describe, this person is not fit to hold any job that I could think of.

  • Even if he’s on his front porch, it sounds like he is making threats and committing assaults. When he does this, you should call the police and urge them to arrest him for these offenses. It sounds like he would be a good candidate for Mental Health Diversion in Superiour Court where he could obtain treatment.

  • He owns his own home, which he paid off years ago, and has been retired for years. Friends bring him food and try to get him to ‘behave’. I have no clue how he pays whatever other bills he has. I have called the police so many times I know some of the officers by now. The standard response is: unless he is a DIRECT threat to himself or others, they can not intervene, meaning he needs to be caught with a weapon in his hand. That is the law.

    If this happens to you, I suggest you start with the police and department of mental health. Document as much as you can and if nothing seems to be working, contact your councilmember. Thanks to Jim Graham’s Office, he is now safely with the Department of Mental Health and I hope, getting the long-term help he needs. We’ll see what happens when he returns home.

  • Well, just wait for the Supremer Court exercise its supreme wisdom to allow hand guns in DC homes and your problem might be solved.. in the interim he or others may of course get killed, but hey, that the price of personal liberty and right to defend against militia, right?

  • This is sad for everyone involved. I’m sure he wants to feel better and obviously you need some relief. The friends can’t do anything other than stop by with food?

  • Spitting on/at someone is assault. Screaming obscenities at passersby can be harassment, terroristic threats, and disturbance of the peace. Emitting high levels of noise from a home, for extended periods of time, esp. at night, violates city noise ordinances.

    You simply have to get a number of neighbors to demand of your district commander that officers be sent to accept your collective evidence, and your willingness to press charges. It sounds harsh to press charges against a mentally ill person, but he is clearly dangerous, and you have the right to protect yourself and your family.

    If he were doing this in Georgetown, the police would have acted.

  • And don’t let a patrol or desk officer tell you what the law is, because at least a third of them fly by the seat of their pants day to day. Research the law first, then gather your evidence (existing, or record new facts by video/camera/affadavits), put it all before the district commander, tell them you want to press charges, you want the police to enforce the law. If they don’t, go higher. Go to the next public event at which Chief Lanier appears. But start with your own research on the law, and don’t rely on patrol officers to tell you what they often simply do not know.

  • Hmmmm, imagine that… CM Graham not offering any help when it actually comes to people…I’m shocked…SHOCKED (sarcasm intended).

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