Brick Thrown at Reader’s Head in Brookland, 911 Puts them on Hold

pain sculpture

Over the weekend we were tweeted:

“Some punks threw brick @ my head. Tried 2 call dc #911 only to get recording @DCPoliceDept #emergencyfail #Brookland @CM_McDuffie @PoPville”

I asked if they were ok and what happened and was told:

“Totally ok. They had terrible aim. More blown by 911 recording then brick honestly. What if it was a serious emergency?”

recording was basically like “you’ve reached dc emergency line” over and over. Hung up cuz was more concerned with said punks


And another reader shares:

“Yesterday morning, as I went to move my car, I noticed a sizeable group of dents in the driver’s side door. A cluster of bricks were a few feet away, while a nearby house was clearly missing that group of bricks from its walkway.

It looks like whoever threw the bricks at my car was aiming to shatter the window. Luckily, they missed, but still did damage to the car. I know there have been quite a few incidents where windows have been broke in Columbia Heights lately, but wanted to report this just the same – the bricks are still there, so be on the lookout if you’re parking there anytime soon!

As an FYI, I didn’t have anything out in the open in my car. I think it was mostly bad luck! I did submit a police report, although I know there’s not much that can be done.”

32 Comment

  • So the OP can target his/her complaint more effectively: 911 is administered not by MPD, but by the Office of Communications (OUC).
    I think OUC has come under criticism in the past for various issues, although I don’t remember whether the “please hold” recording was among them.
    I’ve called 911 a number of times and received the “please hold” message only once or twice… but I have to admit it’s alarming. What if it were a life-or-death situation where every second mattered?

  • Where in Brookland did this happen?

    • I would like to know the location of this as well

      • OP here – happened at the corner of 12th and Newton NE. Wife and I were headed to Steel Plate for dinner. Said punks tried to cat call/holla at us. We ignored it and they didn’t like it. After incident, we turned around to get a good look at them and quickly tried to dial 911. They headed from across the street towards us so we ducked into restaurant and then hung up after repeated recording. Scary part was they canvassed up and down 12th st a few times while we were inside. Not sure if they were looking for us or just additional trouble. Either way we stayed in SP to have another Boh until we didn’t see them anymore.

    • And a description of the perps, if possible. A friend had a somewhat similar issue awhile back (lighter object, thankfully). Skinny but muscular guy, shoulder-length dreds, maybe about 5’9″.

  • Mike

    I called 911 on a Saturday afternoon in July to report a fight between a couple in the alley right behind my house. They were throwing bricks at each other’s heads. Got a recording 6 times in a row.

  • KSB

    This is horrifically unacceptable! I mean, seriously so. I truly thought improvements were being made but I’m of the opinion that before another pot hole gets filled or another bike lane gets designated, OUC needs to beef up its staffing and sharpen the training ASAP (and yes, I realize they’re different areas of the budget, just thinking that we have a surplus and we need to allocate where needed!) Not good…

    • I wonder if 911 is overwhelmed due to the fact that DC is now using 911 for non-emergencies? Seems like a bad idea, IMHO.

      • I was wondering about this too.
        I think 311 was/is also run by the Office of Unified Communications, so it should be the same number of personnel… but I guess having a non-emergency number meant that people self-triaged and that all calls for 911 were (at least in theory) emergencies.

  • Where was your car parked when it was hit by bricks? We found a similar looking dent in ours a few mornings ago. Didn’t file a police report, but I can do so if it would be helpful to point police towards a pattern.

  • That’s essentially attempted murder, wtf

  • This just happen to me just this past Saturday night while reporting an attempted burglary. 911 line got crossed with an emergency excavation line on first two attempts, third attempt was busy recording, and finally got through on the fourth attempt 5 minutes later.

  • Not related to getting through to 911, but the one time I’ve called them in DC to report a robbery I witnessed, the call-receiver (dispatcher?) was 100% professional and seemed very well trained. No problem getting through, but it was also 3 or 4 AM.

    • i’ve had very good experiences with 911 as well. have called 4-5 times for various issues ranging from a guy climbing in a neighbor’s window to an obviously drunk person who stopped his car in front of my house to get out and take a leak in the neighbor’s yard. the only negative experience i’ve had was with the actual police who showed up when a kid with a brick was banging on the glass of my back window clearly trying to break in (I came downstairs and surprised him, and he took off). they insisted that this was not an attempted burglary, but rather only vandalism, and basically treated it as a joke (they made a crack about him probably looking for milk for his cereal since he could see my refrigerator – ha ha). clearly trying to down-code the violation to make the crime stats look better, as others have experienced.

  • I had a similar experience (put on hold by 911) while trying to report a crime (assault) in progress. I sent an email about the issue and this is the crappy response I got (PS I was calling on a Sunday afternoon at 1pm):

    Good Morning,

    As an industry standard, OUC plays a hold message when we have an influx of calls. We ask that you stay on the line and not hang up, for that will further delay the call. Calls are answered in turn as they come in queue. I am not sure what events were happening at the time of your call; however, if you provide the number that you placed your call from, we should be able to track it and determine our performance during that time.

    In the future, there is a shift supervisor working on every shift, if you have a concern, I encourage you to ask to speak to the supervisor so your questions can be answered expeditiously. Thanks for patience.

    Jennifer Greene
    Director, Office of Unified Communications

  • Guy trying to break the car window might have been this guy:

  • that sucks. I had someone throw a brick through the window of my car when I was driving down M st in SW in 2004. Glass exploded all over the place and I honestly wasn’t sure what happened at first- i thought I had been shot at. I am lucky I didn’t hit anyone else- M st. was pretty much a ghost town then.

    It took me a while to be ok with loud noises after that and I still get anxious around packs of kids.

  • That is scary. Several years ago a good friend of mine was severely beaten in the head with a brick. He is very lucky someone up the street saw it and yelled and the person ran away before serious permanent damage could be done. They never did catch him, but if they had, he would have been charged with attempted murder.

  • OP, was that around 7:00-7:30 last night?

  • I’ve had mostly good experiences with 911 – however, I have experienced the “long hold” once and had to just hang up and call again. It is frustrating and shouldn’t happen.

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