Dear PoPville – Quality of Life Problems and MPD Priorities After the Earthquake

Photo by PoPville flickr user yostinator

“Dear PoPville,

I had a disturbing incident yesterday that may be of interest to your readers in the Mt. Pleasant area. At about 4:30 p.m., while walking my dog down 17th across from Lamont Park, I heard two small children get extremely upset that there was a strange shirtless man passed out in their enclosed front yard. Tired of lowlife deadbeats ruling with impunity over our otherwise beautiful neighborhood, I offered to get him out, and their mother took them inside.

I went in, woke up the guy, pulled him up, and sent him staggering out of the front gate. My rusty high school Spanish was enough to know that he was drunkenly threatening to kill me as he staggered out, but then back in the gate, refusing to leave. The family was still watching and extremely upset, so I got him out a second time and called DC’s finest from down the sidewalk.

The most disturbing part of this incident begins when the 911 operator, having heard this story in detail, seemed amazed that I would want a police officer to respond, asking “what’s the problem besides him being in the yard?” When I enumerated: criminal trespassing, disorderly conduct, attempted assault, disturbing the peace, public intoxication, and possession of who-knows-what, the operator shrugged this off as a “low priority incident,” and said something about the “citywide emergency.”

My question for readers is: did you see police officers busy responding to a small, non-destructive earthquake yesterday over two and a half hours after it ended? Having just ridden my bike home 4 miles through the core of the city, I saw not a single MPD officer alleviating gridlock traffic or otherwise responding to anything earthquake-related. There wasn’t even bad traffic in the Third District at all, from what I saw. I’m fairly new in town, but this seems typical of a police force that prioritizes taxi-driver shakedowns for wearing short pants, giving bicyclists stop sign tickets, or other revenue intensive activities. After the failure of MPD to respond, the subject urinated all over the sidewalk in front of the townhome and its occupants, and proceeded to resume his post in Lamont Park, where I’m sure I will again see him passed out in broad daylight, reigning over Mt. Pleasant as before.”

209 Comment

  • Oh come on.

  • The Office of Unified Communications is a seperate entity from MPD and is not run by the police department. The problem may have resulted from the call taker not seeing the incident as a priority issue and not immediately dispatching the assignment. By the time an MPD officer was given the call, since the incident was over they may have cleared.

    • ^^^^This is your problem, not the police. You need to alert the watch commander of the date/time of the call and allow them to investigate.

      They’ll hire ANYONE to answer the phone at 911 and that person isn’t a cop.

  • MPD is generally slow to respond to homeless issues, even when an unusual event has not recently occurred. In Tenleytown, there was a constant homeless presence at the Metro entrance on the west side of Wisconsin Ave. One of the individuals was clearly mentally ill and covered in filth (including his own bodily waste). It took multiple calls over a couple months before MPD began regularly stopping by and moving these individuals out of the Metro entrance. And this is on a major street where MPD is driving by constantly.

    It was a nuisance, sure. But it was a low priority. Just like your situation.

    • So only people who look like presentable should be permitted to stand near the entrance of a metro? Or do your objections to his presence on public property stem from the fact that his difficulties disturb your Tenleytown peace of mind? Whether the police move him from that location or not there will still be homeless people and they will still be covered in filth, but out of sight out of mind, right?

      • i think it’s fair to move people covered in bodily waste away from heavily traffic public areas.

        i also think the city and the us should take better care of the mentally. in the meantime, we don’t need shit and pissed stained folk hanging out by the metro entrance.

        • She wrote, “In Tenleytown, there was a *constant homeless* presence at the Metro entrance on the west side of Wisconsin Ave. One of the *individuals* was clearly mentally ill and covered in filth (including his own bodily waste). It took multiple calls over a couple months before MPD began regularly stopping by and moving *these individuals* out of the Metro entrance.”

          She wanted the homeless people (plural) moved, one of whom had a feces issue. She was bothered by the homeless people conregating outside the Tenleytown metro. The reference to feces was probably just meant to underscore how unsightly the homeless people in Tenleytown.

          • Eh, okay dude. MPD was contacted about the general situation of homeless outside of the Metro, but was spurred due to the guy covered in human waste. Pick apart my post any which way you’d like. There are homeless people up and down that stretch of Wisconsin Ave. Some are selling street sense. Some are just hanging out. Nobody is calling the police on them. Just the dude with dookie running down his legs standing in front of the Metro escalator.

          • I don’t understand why you think the police be called on individuals selling street sense.

          • I don’t, as reflected in the sentence “Nobody is calling the police on them.”

          • “MPD was contacted about the general situation of homeless outside of the Metro”

            I’ll be sure to contact the MPD about the general situation of snobbery outside the Georgetown metro.

            On a more serious note, let’s work to support the weak and vulnerable in society rather than call the police because they are a “nuisance.”

          • Concerned Citizen – feel free to do whatever you want regarding the mythical “Georgetown Metro.” Nice non sequitur, though.

            Regarding the point of the post, there’s nothing wrong with calling the police to report a man wandering in public covered in his own feces. What heppens after the police have been called is the problem. Clearly the man in question needs care (probably for mental illness) and the right answer would be to provide him with that care. At this point, though, that solution does not appear to exist.

      • I think you missed my point. My scenario was “disturbing” as much as the OP’s scenario was “disturbing”. It was unpleasant, and the homeless person should have been in treatment or at a shelter as he clearly could not care for himself.

        But I didn’t complain on a Web site calling the MPD unwilling to help because they were too busy generating revenue. And that’s because, again, the situation was low priority (my point).

        • Oh come one, you were writing as if homeless people, in general, shouldn’t be congregating outside metros – public property.

          • I’m curious as to why you think this is a good place for someone who is clearly mentally ill to be congregating.

          • I agree! Can’t we put them on their own island? (That’s what you’re implying right?)

          • It sounds like you are saying they are homeless, ergo, they are mentally ill, so they shouldn’t be on congregating outside of a metro.

            I guess I don’t follow your logic that homeless people are “clearly mentally ill.” However, I would venture to say that the person covered in feces was. Nevertheless, if we are going to choose to have homeless people in this city/country then we should at the very least tolerate their presence on public property.

          • Christ seriously Marion?? You can’t, in all seriousness, be chastising someone for being of the opinion that someone covered in their own sh*t shouldn’t be standing in front of the metro entrance as people are trying to enter and exit. I don’t care if this guy was just sitting there or was getting in the face of people trying to make their way into the metro; it is still a nuisance, yes low priority in comparison to crime, but a nuisance nonetheless. If I saw someone, homeless, drunk, whatever standing/sitting in front of or next to the metro entrance covered in their own excrements as I try to take my children down the stairs or escalator you can bet your salary I would be calling the police (even if it is marked as low priority). I don’t have issue with the homeless people who are sitting or sleeping in public places but if they are using their bodies and public places as personal lavatories and engaging in other behavior like the guy in Chinatown who is constantly dropping his pants and exposing himself on 7th street, why do I have to suck it up and deal with it? I don’t understand the rational that just because someone is homeless they have free reign to do whatever the hell they want us we all just have to deal. I think not, if I have to conduct myself in a way that is considerate of the general public then so should they. There are shelters and other means for homeless people to take care of themselves, but then again in most cases that would mean abiding by rules and giving up their drug fun.

      • That horse you’re on looks awfully high.

      • I wonder how your tune would change if the filth-covered homeless man were standing in your front yard.

      • I didn’t realize we were still playing these 80s-90s era PC games. “This is a ShitStained-American man who is just expressing himself differently, and you can’t handle it, what with your pro-establishment sensibilities.”

        • To be fair, the pooping hobo has become such a popular meme that kids today think it is cool to have poopy adults in public spaces.

  • With the gridlock and confusion following this and the snowstorm, I shutter to think what the response will be to a true emergency.

    This region should have the most comprehensive streamlined emergency plan in the world but yet people run around in confusion,no centralized alert system, cell phone services go down, and 911 can’t handle the calls.

    Also, talked to a person who walked right through the front door of DHS yesterday completely unchecked following the quake because the security was un-monitored…REALLY?

    • I imagine a lot of the problem comes from the impermanence of the population. Folks come and go, so even if there were a comprehensive plan of some sort (like, maybe not sending all federal workers home when metro is already delayed?, but also well-marked evacuation routes, plans to alter light signals to ease traffic flow), it would be difficult to keep everyone educated.

      • There are well marked evacuation routes and there are plans to alter lights to ease traffic flow–its just they didn’t implement it.

        • so they should have implemented a city wide evacuation?

          • Not exactly an evacuation, but most of DC’s daytime population resides in VA or MD. If there is a sudden closing of the majority of offices due to natural emergency, you would think the first step is to figure out how to get the people out efficiently and safely. Especially considering street closures and power outages. Shoot, even if we just do it for practice sake.

        • They did implement the evacuation plan, the timing of lights on the major evacuation routes was adjusted, making cross-town travel almost impossible. And also travel on the evacuation routes, cars were just sitting on Wisconsin and Connecticut and other major streets.

          But the roads didn’t have to handle the volume of traffic that a true evacuation would cause (just the increased load of simultaneous dismissal of downtown employees). And yet it was complete and total gridlock. Not looking good for when something requiring actual evacuation happens.

          • yeah ~ it was insane and shows how outdated the system is> DDOT has A lot of work to do!

          • i don’t think you are correct.

            i drove into the city shortly after the earthquake, so i know that they did not enforce and evacuation route, since all major roads are outbound in that scenario.
            i saw nothing on twitter, nor heard anything on the radio about evacuation.

    • Shudder

    • Too many people trying to get out of the city at once, and too many people overwhelming the cell phone networks by trying to make calls all at once.

      The problems are too many people and insufficient infrastructure to support them.

      • yes, and no government is going to do what is needed to pay for infrastructure. Just try to raise any kind of revenue for that anywhere, and you are out of office. It will take a bridge or two falling down, I bet. (and even then, the majority of Virginia’s population will say no to any new taxes, and I say that as a Virginian who would pay more taxes)

        • Well the good ‘ol GOP (who just made a HUGE deal about their no new taxes or revnue increases) are going to raise your taxes here soon! Payroll tax will be back on middle class folks costing the average person ~2,000/yr.

  • Denizen, you don’t see any difference between issues on public Metro property and someone invading private property, terrorizing a family, and refusing to leave?

    • Agreed. These are two different issues.

    • As somebody already said above – come on. Let’s keep some perspective here. It was a drunk guy passed out in somebody’s yard. Yes, you can rattle off a list of laws being broken based on the incident alone, but that doesn’t make it any more of a priority than handling a drunk guy passed out directly outside the neighbor’s yard.

      Why? Because it’s A LOW PRIORITY.

      • Do you think the mom and the young children thought it was low priority?

        • even if the mom and children thought it was high priority, that doesn’t make it high priority.

        • So MPD should prioritize their responses based on how upset people are when they call? Sounds like a real workable plan there.

          • I am constantly amazed at the complete lack of perspective by some in this town.

            MPD is a limited resource. They don’t have a countless supply of cops waiting in a room somewhere, and in the event you slept through yesterday, DC suffered its largest earthquake EVER. Of course yet another passed out illegal in Mt Pleasant is going to take a lower priority to say I dunno…rescuing people out of elevators in downtown buildings, dealing with the mass evacuation of 300K people from town, closed schools and countless emergency calls from old ladies thinking they are having heart attacks. The illegal was obviously too drunk by your own description to stand, let alone harm anyone.

            I would hope that cops prioritize things. Perhaps next time you are being held up at gunpoint, you’ll appreciate the fact that they considered me calling to complain about the damn kids in my lawn a lower priority.

          • I forgot the part in the story where the OP asked the drunk for his immigration/citizenship papers. Way to be an asshole, it just proves you dont have to be an “illegal” to be an asshole.

            Arent you a structural engineer? Get back to work.

  • I saw about a dozen uniformed MPD officers directing traffic at downtown intersections at around 4pm yesterday. Most of the lights were out. Several were bicycle patrol units.

    I’d say the event, while not particularly destructive, taxed MPD resources pretty heavily.

  • Uhh, usually I would have more sympathy for this, but given that MPD-3d was responding to multiple shootings in the Shaw area after the earthquake, I think there were higher priorities yesterday.

    • Yup, MPD was busy at 4:30 pm responding to the 6:50 pm shootings in Shaw. That’s how awesome they are.

  • hispanicandproud

    Thank goodness your rusty Spanish came in handy. Would it have been better if he spoke English?

    • what’s your point?

    • Ha. Glad I’m not the only one who was rubbed the wrong way by that.

    • How did this offend you?

      Because the person didn’t take Spanish in college?

      Or because the writer identified the drunk as a spanish-speaker?

      • Mainly the second. It’s irrelevant to the story, and in mentioning it the author imbues the story with their not-so-subtle racist notions.

        • ya’ll are some judgmental fools.

          • Sorry, I’m not normally a judgmental person, but racism is the one thing I just can’t be open-minded about.

          • 12:00,

            he mentioned the language spoken to him and he’s a racist?
            yeah, no judgment there.

          • What if the drunk man were gay? Would it be appropriate to mention that detail?

          • You guys are going a bit far. I guess you are preaching tolerance but in the same breadth you are labeling the OP a racist and you know absolutely nothing about him.

        • Why do people think it is racist to identify the race of the suspect/offender?

          Just like the OP identified the sex and the fact that the guy was shirtless…details about the incident.

        • It’s pretty subtle, but it was definitely there.

        • Holy crap. Seriously? A good Samaritan receives a death threat and the whiners in DC’s only response is to complain that because he identified the language as being in Spanish, HE MUST BE OMG A RACIST!!!!!!!! as opposed to the actual danger of a drunk guy threatening to kill people and terrifying children?

          It doesn’t matter if it was in English, Spanish, or any other language. Threatened is threatened. Lord god, your priorities are whacked.

          • +1 Would you have preferred the poster to note “he was babbling some foreign language that I could barely understand?” What a load of trouble for helping some kids and reporting it to PoP.

          • Well put. The PC nonsense above is as tired as it is self righteous. The fact that communication was a problem in this scenario was germane to the story. Get off your high horses people.

          • Agreed….this is so far off the topic it’s making me think the PoP posters are mentally ill.

            It’s racist to say a drunk asshole was using Spanish to threaten peoples’ lives? WTF? It’s just a fact…the dude spoke Spanish.

            I hope all of you jumping all over the guy who dealt with this problem wind up with a schitzo poop-covered wino in your yards….think how lovely it will be to get a real “dc experience” 🙂

          • This. +1 !!!!!

        • Pretty clear OP mentioned it because he wasn’t sure exactly what was said, but was still clear he was being threatened.

    • The whole post rubbed me the wrong way, but that part gave us a really good idea of the kind of person who wrote it.

      • The non-politically correct version of the story would be:

        “There was this dirty Mexican we needed to get rid of. If he’s in America he should be speaking our language, but lucky for him I’m wordly enough to know a little bit of his lanuage. I like to think my efforts were heroic and noble, even if he was too crazy to communicate with me in any lanuage.”

        • it’s best to read things in the worst possible light possible making it look like someone that was helping out kids is actually a nationalistic racist bigot.

          • Thank you. 100% agreed.

          • Anonymous 11:58:
            Being someone who “someone that was helping out kids” and “a nationalistic bigot” are not mutually exclusive. People are often nice at certain times and less nice on other occasions. People can also be nice, but also simpletons that associate racial or ethnolinguistic groupings with drunk toublemakers; that person would be a nice idiot, if we were giving him the benefit of the doubt.

          • mtb,
            it’s like you didn’t even read the story and you’re just determined that someone is wrong.

          • I’m a native Spanish speaker, and I think that detail about language is important. It’s good to know that one of my brothers, a member of my fraternity, my extended clan, mi gente, is keeping it real….public drunkenness and urination, just like back home in the pueblo. It makes me proud.

          • + a million
            great comment!

        • On the other hand, your post screams, “I’m a douche!”

      • You can’t assume that. Clearly, the OP was shaken by the incident and was rehashing the details of what happened.

    • What is your point? It bothers you that he is pointing out that the guy was a spanish speaker. To me, he is just adding a detail to the story. I’m honestly asking, not trying to bust your chops.

  • Right, Dirtdevil, cause this kind of shit should be allowed to go on unchecked, in the name of Tolerance.

  • Turn the hose on and water the lawn. I bet he would move quickly

    • Yup, I’d hose him down. Or send out the family dog. Or tap him on the shoulder with your baseball bat to wake him up. I know it was a woman and her children at home, but jeez, if the dude were on my property, I would have tossed him into a garbage can and kicked him around, to let him know he wasn’t welcome in those parts. You know, the kind of treatment Rick Perry advocates for Ben Bernanke.

  • I saw cops at Wisconsin and M directing traffic, most likely trying to stop people from just creating unimaginable gridlock to get into Virginia. I also saw Euclid closed off between 16 and 15, but that looked more like security than a problem.

    • Yeah, what was that about? Looked like something going on in that Howard dorm.

    • It was a quake-related problem, not a security issue. The Ecuadorian Embassy (and I believe a few other surrounding buildings) at 15th and Euclid sustained damage that resulted in the road being blocked off. It was still blocked to vehicular traffic this morning. In related news- I had a book fall off of my desk.

      • That does explain the guys in suits walking around. There was also something going on at DCUSA, I heard it was a water pipe broken in Best Buy or Target.

        • Hah, funny story actually! The pool from the WSC on the 3rd floor overflowed and caused water damage in the Target/Best Buy. I heard that Target opened again last night, but that Best Buy will be closed “indefinitely” while they repair/remove damaged electronics.

          For insurance purposes, what do you think? Earthquake-related incident? Or water damage? Hmmm…

          • Act of God, not covered, zing!

            Actually, it’s probably covered under water damage.

          • really? where did you hear this? my girlfriend was swimming in the pool at the time of the quake and didn’t notice any immediate problems. maybe a crack developed and leaking occurred later?

          • 11th — That’s what NPR was reporting this morning, about the water overflowing the pool and the damage to Target and especially Best Buy. We were in DCUSA for the quake and saw the water coming down in Best Buy within a couple minutes, as we all were heading down the escalators — assumed it was their sprinklers kicking in, but it did look like some of the ceiling was falling, now that I think about it.

            How long did it take your gf to leave, since she would have had to get dressed and all? Seemed like the building cleared fast (and super calmly) before anybody knew what had happened, but I was wondering about WSC.

      • Apparently some bricks fell from a building according to NY Times photo gallery.

      • Yeah, I live next to the Embassy and apparently my building had some cosmetic damage too. Nothing quite like falling bricks!

  • Uhhh… at 430, the city was a mess.

    I get it, you’re probably from the West Coast and think you can snicker at DC freaking out. But in case you missed it, most of the buildings around here are made of masonry. Also, hundreds of thousands of people were dismissed at the same time yesterday, many of whom could not access their cars and were walking home.

    Sorry that a drunk guy said something to you that you didnt like. Kudos for intervening for your neighbors, but shame on you trying to find fault with the city’s excellent response to a very difficult situation.

    Maybe you dont have a job or you dont work downtown, but it was very much still a complete clusterfuck at 430.

    • Well put. I biked from Arlington up to Columbia Heights yesterday around 4pm and I saw numerous cops and EMTs responding to problems around the city. The traffic heading out of town was some of the worst I’ve seen. There are definitely times when criticism of the police is warranted, but this is not one of them.

      • I was really glad I had my bike yesterday. Rode through incredible gridlock from Crystal City to my house near Upshur Park. Even saw an unbroken stream of walkers leaving town on the 14th St. bridge.

    • Thank you! I am a native Southern Californian who’s been through earthquakes before. However, I NEVER would have expected one out here. Earthquakes are jarring and I totally understand the startled response by folks out here.

      The city was a mess and a drunk passed out in front of your house (even on your property) is NOT a priority when a once-every-125-years event happens.

      Yet another “Dear PoP” from a DC resident that sounds ridiculously helpless and unable to confront or attempt to solve an uncomfortable situation when it presents itself.

      Try to grow a pair, grab a frying pan/bat/knife/whatever and chase the assh**e away. At least that’s what I would do.

    • There was little reason for the clusterfuck. The earthquake was small, the damage minimal. If people would cut the melodrama, some of the problems experienced yesterday could be avoided. Why everyone had to go home immediately is beyond me. Clearly, your building was not going to collapse. Falling masonry outside is a dangerous thing so, get this, it’s safer to stay inside. Problem solved. God help us if anything truly serious happens here.

  • austindc

    I have definitely had 911 operators tell me that police officers are not going to come when I call to report similar nuisance issues (vandalism, public drunkenness, etc.). I figure they got their own priorities and I assume they know what they’re doing. It’s a pain in the ass to be sure, but there’s probably only so many police around.

    Kudos to the OP for helping his neighbors out though! I think that speaks more to the strength of the community than any amount of police presence.

    • saf

      Write down the operator number and the time. Let your PSA lieutenant know. They need to know when the UC folks pull that crap.

      • austindc

        D’oh! I didn’t do that. Sorry to be ignorant, but what is a PSA lieutenant and how can I contact it? I didn’t think I had options. . .

  • As has been covered too many times to count, most front yards in DC are not private property, whether there’s a fence around it or not. So get off your high horse about trespassing.

    • and as has been covered many times, some streets are like that and some are not.

    • Please stop with this letter of the law bullshit. It’s their front lawn and they shouldn’t have to deal with some drunken waste of life passed out right outside their door.

      • Ironically, the “letter of the law” is exactly what the OP was using when trying to make the call seem like something else by rattling off a list of technicalities related to the LOW PRIORITY incident.

    • Where do you live? I’d like to swing by these evening, drink some beer in your yeard, piss on your flowerbeds, and take a nice long nap.

      You clearly don’t own a house. And if you do, why would you even entertain a notion as stupid as letting a strange drunk man sleep in your front yard?

    • You’re entirely wrong.

  • Really? “Terrorizing a family”? On a normal day I think getting that guy outta there is important, but yesterday was pretty chaotic and I think it’s unreasonable to expect the police to respond to a situation that, ultimately, was harmless…

  • I miss the blogspot days when the number of perfect pricks commenting was at an extreme minimum. Sadly, the pendulum as reached it’s complete opposite.

  • I think the title hits the nail on the head. At it’s base, it’s a quality of life issue. Yes he did he enter a garden unlawfully and pass out, so you could charge him with a couple of things, but there’s no danger here.

    And with no immediate threat of death or serious physical injury, those calls go to the bottom of the queue for life safety and others. MPD isn’t as big as we all think, certainly not when you take out all the non-patrol divisions (Detectives, Vice, Admin, etc) so in a citywide event, they need to manage their resources efficiently.

    And moving drunks probably isn’t the best use of their time.

  • call the cops and say there is a dead body in someones yard.

    • Welcome to DC. Unfortunately, you will have to get used to this type of response from the police, earthquake or no earthquake. Unlike NYC, the police in DC do not see “quality of life” crimes as a problem. In DC, we have come to expect and tolerate a certain level of public poor behavior as the price of living in this great city…oh, except NYC is a much greater city and they do not tolerate this kind of stuff. (Too many residents also seem to accept a certain level of corruption in our elected officials that other great cities would never accept, but that’s a different post). One only needs to read the comments in response to a typical POP posting to recognize that another reason behavior like this goes on is because far too many people are willing to accept it in some perverse nod towards “compassion”, “diversity” and “being cool and/or hip”. That is why we see people defending feces-covered people’s rights to block metro entrances.

      It would be logical to assume the police’s response was due to the earthquake (remember: one-eight of an inch of snow paralyzes this city and causes mass panic – what should we expect from an earthquake?), and perhaps it was, but chances are you would have received the same response on any other day when there was not an earthquake. In a poll of DC police the Post once conducted, a large majority of police officers did not see crime prevention as being part of their job. BTW, the same poll showed a huge level of antipathy in the police force towards certain segments of our community (that is why the 5 lesbians assaulted outside the CH metro last week were treated the way they were by the police – but that is also another post).

      Welcome to DC – don’t let the bastards get you down, don’t stop trying to make the city a better place, and keep trying to help your neighbors! Just recognize that you are facing a very different culture from whence you came.

      • +1

        Although I think we should cut them some slack yesterday, it wouldn’t shock me if this happened any other day.

  • While biking, I noticed some police blocking off a part of 11th Street where the church rubble was. It seemed like there was probably enough earthquake-response issues going on that MPD officers were still busy a few hours later.

    I do commiserate with your frustration at the inebriated people that seem to congregate at that park, and urinate wherever they please. I’ve seen police respond to drunks in that area before, so I think they are aware of/responsive to these problems.

  • Anon,
    I understand the issue of our masonry. I am not from the West coast. I do have a job. As I mentioned in my post, I was downtown. You ignore my question, which was whether anyone thought MPD were actually heavily constrained at 430 due to said masonry-or-traffic issues. Thanks to the commenters who mentioned such activity, and for pointing out the shootings in Shaw (I had no idea.). Those likely account for the lack of response, and rightly so, but not the shitty attitude of the 911 operator, to whom I also had to give the address three times.

    • Yes, I did answer your question, here: “but it was very much still a complete clusterfuck at 430.”

      and here:
      “Also, hundreds of thousands of people were dismissed at the same time yesterday, many of whom could not access their cars and were walking home.”

    • If your question was really to simply ask readers what the police were up to that afternoon, why on Earth did you jump to such negative conclusions about how unacceptable the police response was?

      If that really was what you wanted to know, something like, “I was very surprised that this incident was considered low-priority. Does anyone know if the quake really did cause the police to be busier than normal?” would have been the appropriate kind of thing to post.

      The attitude was of the 911 operator was probably due to the overload of calls that were received yesterday. The Post and most other DC news outlets/blogs were advising everyone all afternoon to avoid making 911 calls unless absolutely necessary to make sure that the greatest emergencies could receive immediate attention.

  • Funny I saw about 6-8 bike cops at YES market at 4:30ish. Kinda hanging out inside. It was weird. Maybe they were waiting for the looters to attack the coco water.

  • I had driven eysterday and left at 4:30 from downtown to head to U st. It took over an hour and I did not see one cop, DDOT employee or tow truck to tow cars blocking lanes.

  • Right, because by pointing out my own linguistic deficiency ONLY to say that I discerned a death threat (probably a hollow one, but nevertheless relevant to the story), I am clearly, beyond a doubt, a racist-nationalist resident of Mt. Pleasant who is on a “high horse.”

    • I’ll bet you were one of the people who remarked that Obama speaks so well, also.

      Good for you for stepping in to save those kids, though.

    • it’s clear that you are a tee-totaling nap hater also! you probably don’t even piss.

      j/k sorry you’re getting shit for just trying to help some people out.

  • “My question for readers is: did you see police officers busy responding to a small, non-destructive earthquake yesterday over two and a half hours after it ended?”

    No, your question is whether your indignation is righteous.

  • Unfortunately, I don’t think the quake had anything to do with it. I too have noticed an uptick of drunk and disorderly activity in Lamont Park, as well as an unwillingness by MPD to do much about it. I recommend contacting Lieutenant Micah Pate ([email protected]; 202-506-0743) to put pressure on him to establish a regular foot patrol near the park and to be aggressive against this type of illegal behavior. Everyone has a right to enjoy public spaces, including the homeless, but this kind of illegal activity really has to stop.

  • I took the OP’s comment about speaking Spanish to mean “The drunk guy was speaking in Spanish as he backed out of the yard. From the little Spanish I know, I’m pretty sure he threatened to kill me.”

    How on earth is this racist??

  • Two words. Garden hose.

  • “criminal trespassing, disorderly conduct, attempted assault, disturbing the peace, public intoxication, and possession of who-knows-what…”

    Since when is “possession of who-knows-what” a crime?

    I suspect everyone who calls 911 feels that their complaint is pretty high priority. But frankly, regardless of how disturbed the OP was or how upset the mom and kids were, this just doesn’t sound like a particularly dangerous episode. (Not saying it was pleasant, just taking a broad view.)

    It’s probably very annoying to be told that your call is a low priority, but seriously it’s just self-centered to believe that there aren’t more important things than this at any given point in time, let alone in the mess that was yesterday afternoon.

    • i agree with you, but shouldn’t we expect more? expecting more is the only way we’ll have a better city. ain’t gonna magically happen.

      • Personally I want to live in a city that prioritizes earthquake response over drunk vagrant response. Even better that the operator said it was a low priority so the caller had the heads up no one was coming and an opportunity to try to justify that it was a higher priority. Since there was no immediate danger, or really very much risk, seems reasonable to me.

        • Agreed. Totally.

        • agreed! it takes more than 2 1/2 hours to assess damage and control traffic. I agree with whomever said something about a garden hose… some days, you’ve just got to do what you’ve got to do… if some drunkard were in my yard with my small children near, he’d get hosed down before he could say boo..

      • Should we expect more from the police force? I’m actually not sure that we should.

        Expect more from our fellow citizens? Absolutely.

        • by fellow citizens I’m referring more to drunk guy on the lawn, not to the OP who obviously did more than they had to.

  • Dear Original Poster:

    Get stuffed. D.C. is not built for earthquakes and many Officers were tied down on fixed posts in areas where buildings suffered damage and falling debris waiting on Fire/EMS and building inspectors to clear buildings. If we didn’t hold a perimeter and something collapsed, people like you would have griped that we weren’t “DOING SOMETHING!1!!”. The few that weren’t tied down that were busy with priorities like the double shooting in Shaw. People resumed robbing, beating, and stealing from each other no more than an hour or two after the quake. The OUC received something like 2000 calls for fire and EMS service alone in four hours when they normally get 200 to 300 a day. There were numerous gas leaks all over the city. I was on day off and I pitched in to evacuate elderly and disabled residents from my building and assist on-duty units until my building was cleared. A drunk asshole passed out on someone’s lawn is not a priority in the middle of a natural disaster. Next time you see a drunk in someone’s lawn in the middle of a natural disaster, let him be. He’ll get up eventually and leave. Any other day that’s not a natural disaster, call us.

  • I got home yesterday at about 5:45. I walked up to one of three police officers sitting outside the rec center and pointed out a chimney that looked like it was going to fall onto a sidewalk and on a parked car. I asked the officer if there was anywhere to report that if the home owner doesn’t fix it. To which he responded, “Not that I know of, that’s certainly not our problem.” I responded, “I’ll call 311 and find out,” and walked away while he went back to sitting down on the wall.

    I only relay this story to say I agree with the OP. Many of the cops were not really doing anything of great importance yesterday. They probably could have handled the complaint.

  • Funny thing…I’ve called the police numerous times in Mt. Pleasant regarding drunk, belligerent/passed out guys on the street and the response was usually a quick patrol car and an ambulance. A couple of times accompanied by a firetruck.

    I just didn’t do so say during the riots in the early 90’s, during a hurricane, during a large protest….or during the biggest earthquake in these parts since 1875.

    I guess I just have low standards…..

  • MPD cops were in Bloomingdale, at the corner of 1st and U yesterday afternoon. Figured they were helping with traffic. In reality, they were pulling over anyone and everyone for various “crimes.” I removed my seat belt and to take my work shirt off while waiting inline at the stop sign and was given a $50 ticket for not wearing a seat belt. Lady behind me was ticketed for driving over the double yellow line to let bikers pass. If you don’t know where their priorities lie, just look around; revenue generation.

    • Dude, FUCKdis. I might have gotten arrested in your situation. That’s pretty fucking fascist.

      Also, insert snide remark about how glad I am I don’t drive to work, yada yada…

  • Did an active police officer and/or spokesman just tell the poster to “get stuffed”? That tells you about all you need to know about MPD professionalism.

    • Wrong. At best it tells you all you need to know about Officer Cicero’s professionalism.

      …although I don’t think it tells you anything about that either, since I doubt posting on PoP is one of his professional duties. (Although if he’s posting here while on duty, that’s a different story I suppose.)

    • I am quite professional when I’m on duty, but one has to call someone out when they need to be called out. Self-entitled people with little perspective on what’s really important who feel the need to gripe about passed out drunks in the middle of a natural disaster need to be told they are idiots.

      • You could still feel that this person needs to be called out, and do so in a more polite way.

        The rest of your post was pretty reasonable, but beginning with “Get stuffed” just started it off all wrong.

        • This is exactly whats wrong with people, they want to pretend police are somehow not just normal people like everyone else.

          Now, hurry up and get stuffed.

          • They are normal people, but should be held to a higher standard. I understand his frustration, but as long as he writes under Officer Cicero, and represents himself as a member of the MPD, I think he’s never really “off duty”.

          • I have a feeling his name is not actually Cicero. Does that realization help to ease your butt cheeks at all?

          • My butt cheeks were never the issue here, but I do find it odd that you were concerned about them. And it doesn’t matter what his/her name is. Only that they are representing MPD and therefore I think should hold themselves to a higher standard than the general populace. That’s it. No need to read further into it or comment on any other of my body parts.

        • wah wah wah
          sorry -I should have said that in a more polite way

  • saf

    The calltakers are not supposed to refuse calls. They are supposed to tell the police/fire/ems folks about the calls.

    I hate the Office of Unified Communications.

  • I called 911 for a non-emergency at 4 pm yesterday (not quake related). Squad car arrived with 10 minutes of my call. I can’t complain about response time.

  • MLK library closed after the earthquake and it looked like a homeless warzone.

  • I don’t know. As a husband, father and homeowner… if a drunken man is passed out on my front lawn and gives death threats at a request to leave, I think that warrants police attention. Maybe not during the “natural disaster,” but the call was not out of line.

    If the woman would have gone out there and gotten stabbed while asking him to leave, I think all of you high-and-mighty folks would be criticizing her for not calling the police.

    The guy is obviously unstable.

    • Indeed. The call was not out of line, the prioritization was not out of line, the request for police assistance was not out of line, the assistance given by a citizen was not out of line.

      But this thread is hilarious. Pure pefect pop.

      And that is racist, bloggist, policeist and drunkist and …. too funny DC.

  • Dear Officer Cicero,
    Aside from my (legitimate) jabs about MPD revenue stunts and Unified Communications’ incompetence, my post had one point: to ask others what level of quake-related police engagement there was around 4:30, since I hadn’t seen any. Once those activities were pointed out to me, and the shootings in Shaw were brought to light, I posted that these “rightly account for the lack of response.” I’m sorry that you seem to be taking the macho-boy position that even preliminary questioning of your department’s handling of my call was an affront to you personally, such that you would publicly tell me to “get stuffed.” Your response is telling. I can’t help but think, once again, that NWA said it best…

  • A “low priority incident,”. In light of how it turned out, seems the operator was spot on. The unfortunate part of city living is that we occasionally have to deal with, well, humanity.

  • Wow, this is easily one of the worst commentaries on PoP I’ve ever seen. At the same time, it encompasses everything I love; police incompetence, inappropriate response by alleged cop, people jumping to conclusions about others being racist, people stating that said issue is just a fact of life (DC life mainly), a number of side rants (in this case what to do with homeless people), and just generally people writing stuff before seemingly thinking about it…or maybe they are. Let’s get a grip here.

  • Yup, in a 176 comments and counting nutshell, this is why internet comments suck. Trying to figure out which I’m more upset with, (a) the original poster not thinking the police might be busy 2 1/2 hours after an earthquake, (b) people calling him racist for simply pointing out that he understood Spanish to know that the drunk was threatening him, or (c) the fact that an active member of MPD is posting anonymously on a blog in a matter that should get him fired or at least sitting behind a desk until he learns that he is supposed to serve the community. If I posted comments about my job anonymously and linked to my blog where I bashed my employer, I’d be out on the street in no time. I do also love blaming crime that happened 3 hours later on the response to this incident.

    • For the record, I wasn’t accusing the OP of being racist. As I said, it just rubbed me the wrong way. Maybe I shouldn’t have mentioned that, in retrospect.

      • Indeed. I don’t want to sound too shrill, but you are part of the problem.

        If you’re rubbed the wrong way by neutral statements, it say more about you than anyone else. You turned a neutral comment into a Rorschach test, upon which you superimposed what’s in your head.

        To me, this situation is analogous to the closeted jock who calls other people what he is: gay. The first proclaimers of other people being racists may in fact be the most subliminally racist ones among us.

        • SouthwestDC

          I disagree.

          There was a time when I would have dismissed something like this as a neutral statement. Then I dated an African American girl who was very sensitive to nuances like this. I’ll concede that she was being overly sensitive at times, but being intimately exposed to the viewpoint of a disadvantaged minority made me more attuned to subtly offensive language.

          I would not go as far to say the author’s choice of wording was racist or even hateful, but am I a bad person if I admit it does make me a little uncomfortable? On the other hand, if he/she had simply said, “The guy was speaking Spanish so I couldn’t communicate with him” I doubt anyone would have had a problem with that. Like I said, it’s a subtle thing that I don’t think a lot of us white people would necessarily get.

          • I agree with what you say generally, but disagree absolutely regarding this specific instance.

            The OP’s sentence describing his Spanish speaking abilities is about as neutral as it gets. There’s no daylight between the quote you propose as acceptable and what he said. What part exactly made you uncomfortable?

            Ultimately, we can’t be ruled by the practice of reading bad intentions into everyone else’s statements. It creates boogeymen where there are none, and enemies where friends could be.

          • It’s nice that you think of your ex girlfriend as a “disadvantaged minority.”

          • @Trixie… seriously??

          • Caroline,
            Care to explain to me how “The guy was speaking Spanish so I couldn’t communicate with him” is any different whatsoever than “My rusty high school Spanish was enough to know that he was drunkenly threatening to kill me”? The only difference I see is that you phrased the first one and I phrased the second one. They convey exactly the same information as to language, and both do it objectively and neutrally as to race or ethnicity. I suppose you think only the precise phraseology that makes you “comfortable” is acceptable, given your superior Tolerance credentials as someone who “dated an African-American girl.” You and the other wolf-crying race-baiters in POPville do a terrible disservice to our community and society by distracting from real racism and intolerance, both overt and subtle, with this sort of inane bullshit.

          • Chill out, OP.

          • SouthwestDC

            OP, I would have responded to Tres’s similar question, but because you chose to personally attack me I don’t want to engage in further dialogue with you. I was debating Tres’s claim that this is some sort of perverse Rorschach test, and was not commenting on you or your character.

            Incidentally, Tres, a lot of people who hate gay people are, in fact, not gay. That’s why they have such difficulty understanding us or how our orientation could not be a “lifestyle” or choice. Even if homophobia were a valid test for homosexuality I don’t think it’s an applicable analogy in this context.

  • You should also post this on the Mt Pleasant listsrv or MPD’s Watch Commander and several officers communicate on there and may even respond to your post.

    We were eating dinner at Don Juan’s at 5pm and saw no less than four separate officers on foot walking Mt Pleasant Street. Certainly one of them could have dealt with this incident. As an aside, when I called in about 2 homeless people sleeping on my neighbor’s front porch I mentioned that she was a single mom with a small baby and the dispatcher quickly got a patrol car to the house without any issues.

  • Ensuring that bike riders obey traffic laws and stop at stop signs is not a revenue generator, it’s a life saver. As afar as the rest of your post, I think others have said enough.

  • PoP, how do you read all of this day after day without losing your mind (completely)?

  • In light of the earthquake this call isn’t high priority – but that doesn’t make it ok. It could have easily turned violent, drunks are unpredictable – and anyone threatening to kill no matter the language should be dealt with.

    Just like Joker said… not enough cops around… all the more reason to have the right to bear arms (legally on your property) people seem to forget that one… a friend like Smith and Wesson would have gotten rid of a THREATENING DRUNK ASSHOLE ON MY PROPERTY real quick (threat of use is all that would be warranted). Or maybe a shot gun – first shot salt if attacked, or a bean bag for all you sensitive PC folks…

    MPD had their hands full, no doubt – but we can’t just allow behavior like that to be acceptable. As someone who has had to step over someone like that at my front door
    (I helped him down off my property and called an ambulance)- I know how violating it can be especially if your children are around. But had he threatened my life and acted out you have all right to defend your self as you see fit on your property…

  • What r u tools going to do with the hurricane coming? Depend on the govt and the police to solve your problems for the next natural disaster. That is the issue solve your own problems and stop relying on govt to solve it for you. If you rely on govt u will be screwed.

  • A Texas style ass kicking would probably encourage the smelly drunk trespasser to move along.

  • I think I may have seen the same exact guy passed out on the front steps of an apartment building on Lamont. He reaked and people entering the building had to step over/around him to get in the door. I could see how it would have been disturbing to be with two young kids. Thanks for trying to do something to solve the issue, I for one just walked by.

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