Dear PoPville – $250 Ticket for Loitering for Just Trying to Walk my Dog?


“Dear PoPville,

Long story short, the residents of Westend, specifically area residents with pets have been harassed by park rangers and threatened by police with charges of trespassing around Francis Field Park located at 25th street NW. Words cannot express the level of frustration felt over this military style surveillance & enforcement of our local park area. The most upsetting part of this story, is being personally ticketed $250 for “loitering” while walking my dog next to Francis Charter School this past weekend.

We are not criminals, nor are we acting like ones.

In 2012, we were told the park is for everyone, sports enthusiasts & pet owners, it was even marketed by my apartment complex, as a dog friendly park located directly across the street.

Fast forward 2014, park rangers & DC metro police have been John Rambo hell bent on stalking residents & telling them pets are strictly prohibited inside the fenced area, but permissible anywhere outside that area.

Um ok… However, oddly enough, I was ticketed next to Francis Stevens Charter School which is around the corner?

When I questioned the office, I was told “I’m on private property and move to 26th & K park to walk my pet”

I’m thinking, what?

When I kindly refused, I was ticketed.

Totally absurd waste of police resources.”

138 Comment

  • I foresee many comments on this one.

  • something isn’t adding up about this story….you were walking on the sidewalk? Were you rude to the cop? I take my dog over there all the time and I Have never seen a police/ranger presence

    • Being rude to a cop doesn’t warrant an undeserved ticket, good lord.

      • Well, when you’re technically doing something illegal, and the cop asks you to not do it, and you refuse and/or rude to the cop – – – – you’re probably going to get a ticket.

        You’re not getting a ticket for “being rude”, you get a ticket for doing something illegal….get it?

        • So if you’re doing something illegal but you’re nice about it you’re off the hook? One’s demeanor should have no bearing on if/how the law is enforced. Unfortunately it doesn’t play out that way in reality, so it’s best to kiss a cop’s ass whenever you see one even of you’re doing nothing illegal.

          • Well the cop did ask them to leave and they stated that they refused, so sounds like cop didn’t care about demeanor

  • well you should do what a police officer asks. its not like he just handed you a ticket, he asked you to move first.

    • If the dog owner was doing nothing illegal (and I don’t know if he/she was) then he/she does not have to move just because a police officer said to.

      • Of course he/she doesn’t *have* to, but not doing so may result in a citation.

        • An illegal citation given out by a crooked cop.

          • Yep, I was arrested once for refusing to give a cop my address when asked (I’m a single woman and didn’t want some creepy guy knowing where I live). They’ll just come up with some bogus charge like loitering or disorderly conduct if they don’t have a real reason to arrest or fine you.

          • Maybe but not necessarily. I’m pretty sure that cops have some leeway when it comes to maintaining order and enforcing rules. Just because you claim you weren’t doing anything wrong doesn’t mean that our law enforcement and justice systems will agree with you. But you’re free to pick your battles as you choose.

    • No, they aren’t your masters and you should not do what a police officer asks! Use the George Costanza method and do the opposite.

  • I was somewhat sympathetic until I got to “I kindly refused.” If you refuse to comply with an order from a police officer, you can expect a consequence, even if you’re in the right. What you should have done was comply and then take it up with the appropriate authorities.

  • There is obviously so much more to this story than is being said. Were you on the playground? What was the conversation like? Also, there is no Francis Steven Charter School. I would think most neighbors would know that.

    • I assume the OP means School Without Walls, formerly Francis Stevens, which retains the original sign.

  • Why are you trying to tie the park with the school? You indicate that you were on school property, which is not the park. You’ve conflated your concerns about the policing of the park with the policing of the school property to your own detriment. If a cop asked you not to walk your dog on school property–which is not a public park–perhaps it would have been advisable to heed to warning.

    • Seriously. I don’t understand, is this post about the park or the ticket? The two aren’t related. OP was ticketed, but not at the park. Sooo…???

  • I’m confused….are we talking about walking the dog on school property, at a park or on a sidewalk???

  • What the hell is this? What possible logic is there behind this ticket? Absolute insanity.

    • The logic is loitering. Why is that hard to understand? It’s an ordinance. Just like the noise ordinance so many people on POPville are quick to praise.

  • This is infuriating as it seems it is impossible for the police to to ticket the actual DRUG DEALERS who stand on my corner every day for loitering.

  • organize a flash mob of dogs on the park.

  • Is there any type of trespassing/no loitering/ no pets allowed signage posted where you were ticketed?

  • Well I noticed that the ticket was issued for Friday at 11:30am when school was in session.
    There is a field in my neighborhood that I use which attached to a school, but it is common courtesy, NOT to use it while school is in session. The kids who attend their have the right to first access, so from 30 minutes before they arrive, and about an hour after they start trickling out, I stay away. Plus with or without a dog, adults shouldn’t be loitering around school property.

  • Nothing about this letter makes sense.

  • Sounds like they don’t want dog poop inside the fenced area of a school.
    AND Francis Stevens is a DC Public School, not charter. Seems like a minor point, but if you were selling drugs under pretense of walking a dog, it would NOT be a minor offense. Since there’s no way of knowing for certain, it’s fair and proper to simply ask you to move on.
    Refuse an order from a police officer and you gets what you get.

    • My dog once interrupted a drug deal in Meridian Hill Park because he and a toy poodle desperately wanted to greet each other. I was focused on the dog, no so much the owner, but after a minute I looked up and realized they didn’t appreciate our intrusion.

      But who brings a toy poodle to a drug deal. Honestly.

      • There’s a guy in my very neighborhood who brings his toy poodle to drug deals. It took me a while to realize what he was doing, but he walks that dog way too often.

        • This was actually a few young women. Maybe toy poodles signify something in the drug trade? I don’t remember them from The Wire. I wonder if they’re in the Director’s cut.

      • This made my freaking day. Thank you.

      • “Yo dawg — don’t bring your dog to our drug deal. Thanks.”

  • I’d protest the ticket. Did you show him ID?

  • I can’t tell if this is a serious comment or not. I hope it’s serious for how crazy it is though, hahaha.

  • justinbc

    Be glad he didn’t ticket you for improper refrigeration of food then.

  • All concerns about school property v sidewalk v park notwithstanding, I was told by our local district commander in ledroit that loitering wasn’t a crime in DC. Interesting.

    • I don’t think it is a crime in DC, generally. The ticket is for loitering on school property, which may well be unlawful even if loitering elsewhere is not.

    • Correct. But loitering on school property is a civil infraction. If OP was on Francis-Stevens property without a valid school-related reason for being there, then it’s loitering.

    • You understand a ticket has nothing to do with whether something is criminal or not, right?

  • Umm I don’t think you are allowed to walk dogs on DCPS property, that might have been your problem.
    I agree that there is a lot more to this story than the OP let on.

    • This is correct: dogs are not permitted on DCPS property, though this is the first time I heard of it being enforced by the police.

  • OP, it’s clear that you’re upset (and unnecessarily blowing $250 would certainly upset me) but it seems that you might actually be in the wrong here.
    As far as I know, there’s no Francis Charter School. There’s the Francis-Stevens Education Campus (a DCPS school, now part of the School Without Walls system), which is located at the address listed on the ticket. If you were walking your dog on DCPS property, then the ticket is fair (harsh, but fair) — especially after you were warned. By way of example, Marie Reed students dealt with dog walkers not cleaning up after their dogs for years. Thankfully, the soccer field was just redone and it looks like the dog crap problem has mostly gone away. It sucks that the actions of a few lazy, inconsiderate d-bags ruin it for responsible pet owners, but the school fields are first and foremost for school kids. Anything that interferes with their use is correctly banned.

  • I thought DC didn’t have a general anti-loitering law? There’s the Anti-Loitering/Drug Free Zone Act but it appears inapplicable in this instance. Perhaps the officer meant trespassing?

  • This is so interesting as someone who as been told by police downtown (1D I’m talking about you) that there is no loitering law and that is why they can not move the belligerent, drunk homeless man who harasses us on the street. Would love to know which law they are using to ticket people.

  • § 8-1808. Prohibited conduct.
    (e) No dog shall be permitted on any school ground when school is in session or on any public recreation area, other than a dog park, unless the dog is leashed.

    You were wrong and the tickets was warranted. Next time, listen to the officer.

    • This isn’t directed at you Alex, but Jumpin’ Jeebus on a Pogo Stick are DC legislators and regulators bad writers. I know from being a DCPS parent that dogs aren’t allowed on school grounds, leashed or otherwise. This sentence really should have been broken up to make that clear.

    • Case closed.

    • I read that to say that dogs ARE permitted IF leashed – and if the dog was not leashed, wouldn’t the “unleashed dog” box on the ticket be marked? That said, the language could go either way.

    • “unless the dog is leashed” – there is nothing in OP’s story to suggest dog was off leash.

      • It’s vague, granted, but the DCPS interpretation of this law goes something like this: “No dog shall be permitted [1] on any school ground when school is in session or [2] on any public recreation area, other than a dog park, unless the dog is leashed.” So it’s no dogs at school at all and then they have to be leashed if they’re in a public recreation area other than a dog park. Not saying that DCPS is necessarily right, but the no dogs at school thing is pretty widely enforced here.

        • And I should add that DCPS treats “school is in session” as a calendar thing (in other words, during the school year). The time of day doesn’t seem to matter.

        • Hm interesting. When I first read it I read it as you can’t have dogs on school grounds when they are in session (leashed or unleashed) OR at a park unleashed..two separate clauses. But I think either could be correct, right? All I know is my favorite part of the day in elementary school was when my dad picked me up at the door with my dog.

        • Here’s the problem: that isn’t what OP was cited for. He/she was cited for loitering. Is that part of the loitering ordinance?

          • Not exactly. The loitering comes from being on school property without a school-related reason for being there and after being told to leave. The original command to leave comes from the DCPS ban on dogs.

          • Yeah, but how often are police citations actually for the infraction that was committed?

    • If you read this language to not permit leashed dogs at any time on school grounds, then the “school in session” phrase is meaningless. Altogether a horribly written regulation. The most reasonable interpretation is that no dogs are allowed while school is in session or on any other public recreation area unless leashed.

  • You absolutely should not be walking your dog on school property. You may clean up after them but there is still going to be some leftover poop in the grass that the children are going to be rolling around on. Kudos to metro PD for standing up to this person.

  • Several things not adding up. OP says they got the ticket last weekend, but the time and date clearly show it was during the school day last Friday. It also clearly says ‘loitering on school property’ so his point about it being around the corner from this park that his apartment “marketed” to him, and huffing that he can’t hang out there, is bizarre. (Sorry, just assuming a dude, not sure why).

  • Nothing is missing except:

    – the day & time (Friday, 11pm)
    – the exact location (next to the pool, on the school grass)
    – the obnoxiously loud bullhorn to disperse the area
    – the aggressive mannerism when approaching me
    – the initial threat of a trespassing ticket
    – my less than friendly tone, but cooperative demeanor

    Francis-Stevens =

    For anyone who does not reside directly on 24th or 25th street NW, feel free to ask any person in the area if they’ve ever seen Rangers or Police monitoring the park. It’s not a trumped up story to garner attention or sympathy, only to be left alone while walking our pets.

    Especially at night, after a long day at work.

    Thanks all,

    • ‘- the exact location (next to the pool, on the school grass)”

      i mean, seriously. if you were on a sidewalk that’s one thing. but if you are on the school grass, you *are* on the school property.

    • Sorry this happened – I’d fight the ticket. $250 is a huge fine for something that seems minor (and possibly not illegal in the first place)

    • If this was indeed in the P.M. not the A.M., then fight the ticket.

    • “next to the pool, on the school grass”, e.g. somewhere where you are explicitly NOT allowed to have your dog. It’s school property. The proper response would been to have acknowledged the officer’s request and moved along.

    • “my less than friendly tone, but cooperative demeanor”

      You are directly contradicting your original post in so many ways it’s making my head hurt.

    • jim_ed

      So just to clarify, you were on school property when a police officer asked you to leave it, answered your question when you asked why, and then wrote you a ticket when you refused his request?
      Unless I’m missing something, it seems like the cop was reasonable(and within the law) to ask you to move, and you got on an entitlement trip about it, so he gave you a ticket. Then you wrote a breathless and inane email to PoP about “police militancy.”
      In all seriousness, you should probably take some time to reflect on this situation. Police militancy would have been impounding your dog and haulingyou off to jail. Police militancy are the jumpout cops harassing and patting down kids with no cause. This is like commuters who equate speed cameras with facism, and it reeks of privilege.

      • +1. You are the most logical commenter on this site.

      • justinbc

        Yeah, this email seemed even more hyperbolic than Portuguese Tiger concert boy.

      • Easy for you to say. Wait until something like this happens to you and see how you feel about it! The police shouldn’t be able to boss innocent citizens around just because they feel like it.

      • Let’s say it’s a slightly different scenario. Suppose someone like Pablo was taking photos in a park and the police told him to stop, but he asserted that it was legal for the to be taking photos (and it is) so the police wrote him a ticket for loitering. Does Pablo deserve to pay $250 for pursuing his hobby which is in no way illegal?
        The more we let incidents like this happen, the more our rights get eroded and the more likely you’ll be personally impacted by police overstepping their bounds someday.
        Besides, who are you to say that being ticketed is not a big deal? For some people having to come up with $250 is far worse than being patted down or hauled off to jail. It might not be a huge sum to you, but for some people that amount would be essential for paying rent or putting food on the table.

        • Except that the OP was doing something illegal: walking a dog on school property. The OP was informed of this — AND given a legal alternative — which the OP chose to resist. The key to your comment is that you’re describing a scenario which is “in no way illegal” — while he OP is breaking a law.

        • But the “slight difference” is that in the scenario you’re posing, the behavior is, as you point out, “in no way illegal”. The OP is breaking a law. And protesting the fact that the law is being enforced. Even when a legal alternative is near at hand.

        • 1) If I understand things correctly, OP was trespassing on school property, so your analogy to Pablo taking pictures in a public park is inapt.
          2) Yes, police misconduct is a serious issue. If this was misconduct (which is not apparent to me), it is trivial compared what happens elsewhere in the city every day, and OP handled it wrong by refusing to comply with a police order.
          3) Yes, $250 is a lot of money for some people, but I suspect not for someone walking a dog at 25th & M. But maybe OP can enlighten us as to his/her socioeconomic status.

          • And FWIW, Pablo doesn’t come across as arrogant/entitled, etc.

          • I guess we’re understanding things differently (and making different assumptions) then. I was under the impression it was a person who may or not be rich/arrogant/entitled who wasn’t doing anytihng illegal. You’re right that this is pretty far down the totem pole of police misconduct, though, but I’d still argue that the OP has a right to be annoyed.

      • Well put.

    • “my less than friendly tone, but cooperative demeanor”

      You are directly contradicting your original letter in so many ways it’s making my head hurt. I’m no fan of the police but it’s pretty clear here that you disregarded a police order and now you have to pay a ticket. Suck it up.

    • Whether the grounds belong to DC Parks and Recreation or DC Public Schools there’s no loitering after hours, and for good reason.
      Maybe they were lax with enforcement for a while, but the population of children in DC has gone way up within the last 5 years and Francis Stevens is becoming a popular school. That green space is off the beaten path and has a long history of illicit use, so maybe the city is patrolling it more often than they used to.

    • lovefifteen

      You got what you deserved, OP. Stop trolling the internet for sympathy, and don’t be a dick the next time a police officer asks you to obey the law.

  • The fenced-in park that the OP refers to is used as a de-facto dog park (haven’t been by there in a while but there always used to be MANY dogs off leash). I’m assuming the OP is complaining that since they don’t let dog owners use the fenced-in park he was forced onto the adjacent property of the school and was given the ticket.

    It sucks but you didn’t listen to the cop. If you think you are in the right contest the ticket. If you feel the facilities in your area for walking your dog are insufficient then you need to work with city officials/elected reps and do something about it. Unfortunately there are a lot of inconsiderate dog owners who don’t respect public/quasi-public property and leave the mess for others to clean up.

    • BINGO = I’m assuming the OP is complaining that since they don’t let dog owners use the fenced-in park he was forced onto the adjacent property of the school and was given the ticket.

      Residents are being pushed to other locations due to recent ranger threats that the park is no-permissible for those with pets. Regardless, many locals still use it. I was simply following orders and still ended up harassed.

      Anyone that agrees $250 is fair for this type infraction, I hope feels $25 is unacceptably low for possession of 1 ounce or less of marijuana. (Which I’m not endorsing anyone use or carry)

      • As much as I want to sympathize with you, I wouldn’t characterize this as being “harrassed.” You got away with illegal activities for a long time because cops weren’t enforcing the law. Now they are, and you’re mad because you have to walk a few more blocks. I get that it sucks to have to walk further, but that’s just what you’ll have to do until cops stop enforcing the law again (which will happen. That’s the way of DC with these issues).

      • justinbc

        What do you mean you’re assuming what the OP meant was… ? From your post above you seem to be indicating that you are the OP. Did you just forget to log out of your account to agree with yourself or something?

      • You’re quickly losing any shred of credibility here with your grasping at straws.

    • “When I kindly refused . . . ”

      That was your mistake.

  • Was this ticket written in 1918 or anticipating an infraction for 2018?

  • if you look at google street view it shows a guy playing with his dog in the school yard. hahaha

    • @Anonymous – If you can, please post up a screenshot. I see a guy around the corner on 25th with his dog. (Which is technically still off limits according to the officer that night)

      The officer suggested area residents walk to 26th & K st NW – which is an official doggie area.

      • So a police officer TOLD you about an official dog park and you refused.
        And you want to use a Google Maps photo of another scofflaw to back up your case. Okay.

      • Ok, then why aren’t you walking there?
        It honestly sounds like you got the most considerate cop in all of DC. He warned you, gave you an alternative, and you still insisted on mouthing off. Yeah, you deserved the ticket. If you were a young African American male, you’d still be sitting in jail waiting to see the judge. Stop yer bitching.

      • So the cop gave you advice that was easy to follow (walk a block), you ignored it, and you’re complaining about a ticket? Dude, give me a break.

  • “In 2012, we were told the park is for everyone, sports enthusiasts & pet owners, it was even marketed by my apartment complex, as a dog friendly park…”

    The fenced-in park is not, nor has it ever been, a dog park. The fact that your apt complex marketed it as such is meaningless. However, that hasn’t stopped countless pet owners from using it as such for many years. Personally, I am glad the Parks Service is enforcing a no pets rule. The amount of dog shit in that park was appalling. It’s hard for anyone else to enjoy the park when it’s covered in shit.

    • Sorry Mary, but that’s a major stretch of opinion. That park was never “covered in sh*t”. Be fair, not obsurd, maybe a few terds were left unattended by folks. Not a whole park. Thanks.

    • Yeah, it seems to me like the only one you have a right to take issue with is the apartment complex, not the police or parks service. Maybe they’ll pay your ticket.

  • Please contest this and let us know how that turns out. Otherwise, I’m not interested in a one sided story that, even with it being one-sided, still seems to implicate the OP as being the problem here.

    Someone mentioned both entitlement and privilege. I’ve rarely met a dog owner in the city who wasn’t both.


  • Are the grassy areas to the northeast of the tennis courts considered part of the school as well?

    While I may not want anyone to venture down onto the grass bordering Rock Creek in this area (safety), I don’t see any similar issues with walking your pet along the patch of grass bordering 23rd.

    It’s only about a block further…

  • I agree, it does look rather like an 8 in some angles, but you can see that it is a slightly slanted 4.

  • One other problem about this, DC doesn’t have a “No Loitering” law. That’s it why cops tell you they can’t stop drug dealers hanging on a corner. I think you can contest this ticket but you shouldn’t have “kindly refused” the officers request.

    • If there is no ordinance against loitering, then there is no citation. Just contest it. Problem solved.

      I do think there is some ability to designate an area a drug free zone, or if an area is designated a drug free zone, you can be cited for loitering. But I thought that was a temporary deal, but maybe with schools specifically, there is an exception since they are automatically drug free zones.

  • I’m late to this but, very important:

    What you received is an MPD form 61-D. This is NOT a “citation” like a traffic ticket it is a citation misdemeanor criminal arrest. There is a list of 25 or so criminal offenses officers can issue 61-Ds for in lieu of a custodial arrest (like urinating in public, drinking in public, loitering, other minor charges). It is, in MPD terms, called an elect-to-forfeit arrest. When go to 2D to pay the 61-d, payment is admitting the offense, and electing to forfeit your right to a trial. The conviction of loitering will show up on background checks, and technically, you’ll have to say that you have been arrested for loitering in any future employment/background situation if you just pay it.

    If you want to fight the citation, when you go to 2D (within 14 days, or the officer must apply for a misdemeanor criminal warrant for your arrest) you can ask for a court date and fight the charge.

  • Didn’t want to go there, but back in the day this location had a certain reputation. At least that’s what a friend told me…

  • bustyredhead

    Appears some of that space has been approved to be a dog park by the city.

    At the same time, it appears dogs are not permitted at athletic fields and playgrounds. ( Francis Park Field is listed as a natural turf athletic field ({%278%27.EX.%27Athletic%20Field%20-%20Natural%20Turf%27}).

  • OP sounds like one of those bad dog owners with a sense of entitlement.

  • If you live in the apt complex across the street you should be able to pay a $250. Stuff it you entitled snob. Your behavior is atrocious. I can only imagine what kind of arrogant cop the OP would be!! hahahaha

    • @Cookie – you’re an assclown.

      Had I lived anywhere else, I can guarantee your opinionated response would of been different.

      FYI: smile more, it helps when dealing with challenges like hate, misunderstanding & seasonal assclown allergies.

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