From the Forum – Calling the police on homeless men smoking crack?

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Calling the police on homeless men smoking crack?

“I live in a condo building that overlooks an alley. I have witnessed homeless men smoking crack on a few occasions and felt conflicted about calling the police. I mean, if I were homeless, I’d probably want to be in a numb state, too. If I call the police and they get arrested, they end up getting thrown in jail and doesn’t solve the problem. If I let them be, I have crackheads in my alley. The other day, I yelled at them that I already called the police (which I didn’t) and they thanked me and moved on. What’s your opinion?”

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39 Comment

  • thatnewplaceon14th

    “If I call the police and they get arrested, they end up getting thrown in jail and doesn’t solve the problem. ”

    Sure, it doesn’t solve their problem. But it directly solves your problem of having that homeless guy smoking crack in your alley.

  • Yeah, call the police. You do not want people smoking crack in your alley.

  • Well, it might not make him stop using permanently but it is the cheapest form of rehab. Worked for my heroin-addicted cousin.

  • If the mere thought of police presence brought a thank you, I would continue with that practice. It beats having crackheads in your alley. It also saves the cops from chasing shadows, as it takes seconds to smoke (I know this from the movies, no I have never smoked crack). The response time would be a waste of everyone’s time.
    Aren’t all allies certified for crack use?

  • Several thoughts here. First of all, I really don’t think you’re helping anyone out by not reporting this. “quality of life” issues may not seem like they warrant a call to 911 but they do, and when people do not report these things then the quality of life for everyone in the city deteriorates. Second, and more importantly, even if these are just poor, homeless guys seeking a little escape, there are others who manufactured and sold this stuff to them, and I can assure you these are not people you want anywhere near your residence or would want to continue their dealing because people are hesitant to report this illegal activity, even at the user level. Stop the madness-crack smoking is not tolerable, anywhere under any circumstances, period.

  • Call the police! Just don’t expect them to show up. Crack and burglary go hand in hand. I’m all for repealing our draconian drug laws but people do crazy shit for and on certain drugs like crack, PCP, bath salts, meth…

  • ThunderCheese

    Where there are users, there are dealers. You don’t want dealers anywhere near you. Call the police.

  • Only if they are a bicyclist who fails to come to a complete stop.

  • Back in the day I interned at the US Attorney’s office, and my prosecutor handled much of these cases. They don’t want to toss them in jail and use these simple possession arrests as chances to get them into rehab. They don’t always take that offer, or follow through…but it’s rehab first (even for repeat offenders) and jail second.

  • I bet you live in Adams Court at 14th and Columbia.

  • Eh, sounds like you might have solved the problem by telling them that you called the cops (who probably wouldn’t actually show up).
    That said, I’d love it if the city would restrict access to alleyways via gates. Give residents and garbage trucks access to the alley via lock & key and then restrict access to anyone else. There’s no real legitimate reason for a non-resident or anyone who isn’t a sanitation worker to be in the alley. My guess is that neighbors would then actually take the time and expense to beautify their shared space alleys, if they knew that random vagrants & truants wouldn’t steal/destroy/poop in it.

    • Interesting, but it would be kind of a paint to have to get in and out of your car each time you wanted to access or leave your alley. Also wouldn’t be great in the event of an emergency. We all know that’s something the city would never pay for, but I wish residents had the option to choose to do so on their own. I’d definitely push for an automated gate system!

      • That’s a small hassle for peace in your alley, less garbage/dumping, and lowering the risk of break-ins. Nothing good happens in allies when the public has access to them. Seriously.

    • +1 …but it would be seen as a restriction of public space. DC can’t even get an anti loitering law.

      • Um that’s because the Supreme Court says that anti-loitering laws are unconstitutional. Freedom of assembly and all that.

    • I looked into this when trying to find ways to stop constant illegal dumping in my alley, and I think you can get permission to put in a gate if all of your neighbors agree. Pretty sure the city won’t pay for it though.

    • I imagine this would slow down traffic significantly, especially on alleys facing busy streets. I don’t think this is a tenable solution.

    • Neat idea.

      I don’t mean to disagree with you, because I don’t. But, maybe if MORE people rather than LESS used the alleys, there would be less shadiness in said alleys. They wouldn’t be such nice places to do what shouldn’t be done around front. Got a trouble alley? Encourage neighbors to walk it regularly on the way to/from wherever.

    • Alleys are public spaces just like streets are. Turning public space into gated areas solely for the use of folks with nearby residences and keys is right up there with grazing your cattle on public lands without making the payments. Kids play in alleys, people take shortcuts through alleys — and should get to do this without restriction.

      I’m curious, in your scheme to privatize the use of public space — do you think that the residents with keys should be required to pave, plow, and otherwise maintain the alley space? Or are you expecting tax payer supported city services to do this for you?

      • When is the last time you took a shortcut through an alley? When’s the last time you saw kids playing in a an alley? And how often have you experienced either? Stop making an argument you don’t believe in.

        • (different anon) – I take shortcuts through neighboring alleys several times per week. Neighborhood kids play in our alley all the time when it’s nice out. Maybe your neighbors don’t have any young kids?

  • A few years ago, when many of the buildings on my street were vacant, people would smoke crack under the stairs of the building across the street from me. I called the police. They came and told the crack users they had to move because they were on private property. No arrest, no confiscation of drugs, no search. Just move along. Amazing.

    • You confiscate the crackly bits, and the user then has to beg/borrow/steal for his next fix. Your stuff stolen and given directly to the street pharmacist. You better bet the peddler would love for his clientele to have to come back to replace what was confiscated.

      I don’t disagree with you that it’s surprising, but here’s maybe an explanation why it shouldn’t be.

  • And how exactly did their crack smoking hurt you?

    • Seriously? Are you trying to paint crack smoking as totally benign? People on crack are pretty f’ing scary in my experience.

  • I suggest that you don’t yell at anybody in this city. There are people who will kill you for bumping into them. Sorry, but being “dissed” gives people a reason to kill.

    Also, don’t blow your horn at people hanging out in the middle of the street. That is a dissing offense, as well.

    The best way to get the police to come out is to say that people are fighting in the alley. It is up to you if you want to tell a lie.

    • This is not the first time you’ve tried to sell your fear-mongering here. You’re propagating exaggerations (if I’m to phrase it nicely), and you’re not helping. The more of us who confront people who are breaking the law, the more uncomfortable and inconvenient it becomes to break the law… at least where *I* can see you doing it.

      • You call it “fear-mongering”. I still think it unwise for an individual to become a vigilante and personally hassle unknown crack-smokers in an alley. You could get yourself in a very bad situation doing that. How am I exaggerating?

      • Um yeah. Given that a woman once told me she had a gun in her car and asked me if I wanted to fight after I hit her trunk because she almost hit me (a pedestrian) with her car… I have learned to curb my temper and not confront people so much. Add crack to the mix and you’re asking for trouble.

      • Yeah I’m going to have to agree with wobble on this one. In my earlier days in DC I made a habit of yelling at people for various reasons and even though they made some empty threats, nothing ever happened. As I’ve gotten older I’ve realized if you mess with the wrong person just once you can find yourself in a world of trouble. I think it’s better to err on the side of caution and call the police.

    • I’ve been yelling at people in this city for years with no problem.

      • It just takes one nut case with a gun to silence you, Alan.

        I was once driving through the zoo to get to the Rock Creek Parkway. I stopped at a stop sign and the guy behind me got all over his horn. When I stopped at the next stop sign, he was out of his car in a flash with a gun in his hand.

        If you can get shot for stopping at a stop sign, you can certainly get shot for yelling at people.

        I don’t yell at people. I don’t blow my horn at people wandering in the middle of the street. I still respect stop signs.

  • Absolutely call the police. This is a quality of life issue. Who knows how many kids or teenagers walk by that area? Or families? Same goes for roustabouts drinking in the alley or doing any other drug in the alley. If it’s an illegal activity, it’s an illegal activity. We can’t always “baby” people all because we feel sorry for them. Act like an adult and respectful member of society.

  • Homeless smoking crack in alley: dealers, trash, poop (where is monkeyrotica with the photos taken in a Shaw/Dupont alley of the two men having sex and smoking crack, leaving a soiled diaper behind) and if they find it a good place to hang, increased criminal activity there. And that’s how they are using their money?

  • Call the cops. I’d much prefer that unsavory people avoid my block because they know it’s not worth the hassle.

  • This story has one person’s point of view that if “I had his problems, I’d get high too.” In my experience, I learned that most of the time it’s probably the other way around. I had problems because I was always getting high. Pretty much most, if not all, homeless addicts weren’t homeless first…that usually comes as a result of substance abuse. Just sayin’… If there is a social services or city hotline he can make a call to (here in NYC we have 3-1-1 which will take the info and send out social services) he should call that number instead.

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