“was told that MPD cancelled the car seat installation because they wanted to use the space to detain people protesting the Ferguson grand jury decision”

“Dear PoPville,

I wanted to let you know about the challenges my wife and I faced getting our infant car seat installed. After we bought our child car seat, we decided to have it installed by someone with a certification and experience. I heard that the DC Fire Department offers car seat installation, so I searched and found  this flyer with the schedule of installation times and dates.

We saw that our local Engine Company 8 would have an installation opportunity on November 1. I called ahead to confirm that the schedule was accurate, and they said it was. But they also cautioned that “sometimes the installation team doesn’t show up.” We went to Engine Company 8 on November 1, but sure enough no one from the installation team ever came. One of the local firefighters tried to help but he was called away on an emergency, so we went home without the seat installed.

I called around a little more and was referred to a woman named Karen Gay at DDOT who coordinates their car seat program. Ms. Gay was very helpful – she always returned my calls and offered a lot of good information. She said that the DC government offered child car seat installation at the police station at 501 New York Ave NW every Tuesday from 10 am to 6 pm.

On Tuesday, November 25, I called Ms. Gay to confirm that we could get the car seat installed that day. She confirmed that we could, so my wife drove to the station. When she arrived, she was told that MPD cancelled the car seat installation because they wanted to use the space to detain people protesting the Ferguson grand jury decision. Apparently DC has the time and energy to incarcerate people protesting injustice, but not to ensure children’s safety.

We called Ms. Gay again and she apologized. Even though she was on vacation, she arranged for us to go to the Half Street Inspection Station in SW, where a gentleman named Larry Walker finally installed the seat for us. It took less than 15 minutes.

After several weeks of effort, three separate trips, and about a dozen phone calls, we were finally able to get a certified DC safety expert to install our child car seat. But it shouldn’t be that hard. Not all parents have the time to make several fruitless trips across town and to follow up with phone calls. Moreover, parents should know that the Saturday installation schedule I linked to above is inaccurate and unreliable.

This may seem a minor problem to some, but to new parents it’s a big deal. I’ve reached out to my councilmember to alert him of our difficulties and hopefully the city will get this sorted out in the future.”

66 Comment

  • Maybe I’m dense, but isn’t this something that most people do themselves?

    • Not anymore. Stats say the vast majority of people install car seats incorrectly, so it’s good to at least get yours checked. The infant ones are not easy when you don’t know what you are doing.

  • I’m a new parent also, so I understand your frustration. However, was Tuesday not one of the days that the I-395 tunnel (just two blocks east) was being blocked by Ferguson protestors? I would argue keeping that tunnel and major thoroughfare open by detaining protestors may have been a better use of police resources.

    • justinbc

      No way this one guy being slightly inconvenienced was much more important. If anything is to be bold texted in this rant I would highlight the fact that even though the government employee was on vacation she still worked to get his problem solved.

      • I can’t believe I’m saying this but I agree with everything justin said. I get really tired of hearing people complain about government incompetence when their particular little item isn’t elevated to critical status by any and all civil servants within a 5 mile radius. Sure it’s frustrating, but you know, sometimes this go real smooth, sometimes they don’t. That’s how everything in life works. The real story here is that one employee went above and beyond.

      • The sign says I have to move my car for streetsweeping on Tuesday, which is the same day I take my invalid pet hamster Mr. Squeaks to the organic aromatherapy clinic and pet massage parlor. I called the city to request a variance and even though they promised to get me a handicapped exemption nobody ever showed up for the streetsweeping! Now I have to walk through a pile of LEAVES!!!!

  • You just go to the DMV website and make an appointment for a child safety seat installation at the half street sw location. They have them all the time, several times a week. They are great.

  • There was a protest right in front of the 501 New York police station last night, where a line of people blocked New York Ave. So…at least the police didn’t have to drag those people far, right?

    • Really? I wonder if the protesters know that this location is primarily for car crash investigations. The police officers at this location don’t usually work much past 6 … if that late.

      • I don’t think anyone has ever accused these protesters of being the intellectual type.

      • FWIW, I didn’t intend for my question to be a disparaging remark against the protesters (as I think anonymous below assumed I did). I was really just surprised by the choice of the location.

  • Reminds me of what I went through just to get my license and registration switched over at the DMV in Virginia– a simple process that took 40 minutes here required dozens of multi-hour visits and several phone calls. DC’s government services are usually delivered so seamlessly that it’s easy to forget that they have the potential to be hellish.

  • I don’t find this type of complaining useful. You got what you wanted. It wasn’t easy and took some time, but you had a (rare) nice city employee guiding you along. There are serious problems in DC/the world. This is not one of them.

  • The length of time and effort expended to accomplish this is unreasonable for sure, but what the OP is missing, regarding Nov. 25th, is that his child’s safety isn’t in imminent danger, unless they drove to the station with the kid not secured at all, which would be illegal and ticketable.

  • This is a bit uncalled for. In fact, it should be more of a thank you to the government employee who went out of her way WHILE ON VACATION to help you figure our your first world problem. Furthermore, they warned you from the beginning that the installation team doesn’t always show up! There are many city services to complain about, but this isn’t one of them.

  • So this guy was inconvenienced a little. I think the rest of us would agree that controlling the protestors and keeping them from obstructing traffic is a bit more urgent than child seat installation. This guy lacks perspective.

    He should be estatic he talked to a DC official that was actually helpful…and while on vacation to boot!

  • Oh good God, really? Seven paragraphs complaining about a service that is provided to you for free? Look it up on youtube.

  • “Apparently DC has the time and energy to incarcerate people protesting injustice, but not to ensure children’s safety.”

    This doesn’t follow from anything you said.

  • gotryit

    Seriously? Just install it yourself. This is not the highest priority for the city and there are plenty of places you can get help with it. If you want it done on your schedule with high priority, then pay someone private to come out and do it for you.

  • Leaving aside the difficulties in getting an appointment in the first place, I remember as a prospective new parent being very stressed about this. I installed the seat (took me forever – I was very careful) and took it for inspection. The inspector took it out, reinstalled it EXACTLY the same way as I had it, and then even asked me to get it tighter. If you can read, it’s not difficult. And you will remove and replace that seat at least a dozen times in the next six months. I guarantee that if you have any friends with kids, they will be able to help you do it. This is not something to stress about unnecessarily – there are plenty of other things that fit that bill.
    Also, kudos to Ms. Gay – what a nice lady she must be.

  • Smilla

    Is this for real? If so, it’s a prime candidate for STFUParents.

  • Or, you could…I dunno…read the directions and install it yourself.

    Is this a “thing” now? People run off to the firehouse or MPD to have them install your baby seat? As someone who did it for years, I was unaware that people are now incapable of doing it themselves.

    • You should be more aware now. Did you even read the other comments?

      • I guess I am aware now that the infantilization of America continues, that DC government employees and even Council members and tax dollars have to placate folks like this (while on vacation mind you) guy who is ostensibly well educated and can read. Do we also have a city department that sends diaper changing experts to new parents houses to teach them how to change a diaper too?

        It is a wonder we are all alive today, without the department of “common sense” or ” too precious to figure it out yourself” being non-existent in our parents days.

        • You’re entitled to your opinions on the “infantilization of America”, but if you believe it’s evidence of something wrong with DC you’re wrong. There are countless programs and resources to help people install car seats in cities and towns all across the country. They can be helpful, and in some cases, necessary.

  • Carrie Mathison F’ed this up on Homeland this season and we’re sitting there like “YO THAT AINT RIGHT YOU CRAZY PERSON”, and obviously a deranged CIA agent is a bad example to use, but I’m just saying, Carrie mathison didn’t know, OR the TV show people don’t know… So, YAY education, I guess.

    • LOL. She is a TERRIBLE mother though. She had a number of problems while taking “care” of that baby…I mean, I don’t want to drop a spoiler for anyone that is way behind, but the bath tub scene!?

      • Emmaleigh504

        Not so terrible, she knows she can’t take care of the kid so she found someone who can…Forget all the manipulation and crap, she does have responsible adults looking after the kid.

  • Well, if this post accomplishes anything, it will (hopefully) be increased awareness about how easy it is to mis-install a child safety seat and the resources available for help.

  • “incarcerate people protesting injustice” – Since when is robbing a convenience store and attacking a police officer and being killed for it an injustice?

    Also, carseats come with a manual. Can you read? Install it yourself. Let’s not waste gov’t time installing car seats.

      • I’m not sure if the Shaw resident is inferring that all people protesting Ferguson also participate in illicit activities. However, I AM sure that the author is absolutely ignoring the truth that some are.

        But if the MPD is going out of their way to set up a “space to detain people protesting”, one has to assume that it’s for those that take part in illicit activities and not for indiscriminate detention. If the latter is the case, then we have a big problem.

        The real crime is the author trying to associate their inconvenience with the stifling of free speech.

    • I’m sure most other residents of Shaw share your point of view.

  • anyone else feel bad for this kid growing up with parents who are apparently totally incompetent and need to outsource everything?

  • Wish this post would have been, for a difference, about how someone was helpful. Kudos to Ms. Gay for going out of her way (during vacation!) and Mr. Larry walker for a quick, professional service.

  • Anyone else feel like the Ferguson protests are the new Ebola? Folks keep managing to find a way to throw it into a conversation about how inconvenienced they are by it, when in reality, it probably has absolutely NOTHING to do with anything they’re b—-ing about.

  • I don’t usually complain about posts, but you are out of your mind! “Apparently DC has the time and energy to incarcerate people protesting injustice, but not to ensure children’s safety.”

    I’d be more surprised if they weren’t out enforcing the laws because they were helping people install car seats. Good lord.

  • I would like to share this comment to clear up some misinformation or perhaps inform the readers. I did a little research and this is what I found. The location at 501 New York Avenue is a specialized unit that is under the Special Operations Division which main functions becomes protecting the citizens and visitors of DC from any and all civil disturbances that may arise, which the officers are then activated. As we all know a major disturbance can occur in our fair city in a split of a second. My research found that only a couple of officers and civilians at that location are certified to provide this service and statistic show that they have inspected and assisted in installing more Child Passenger Seats then Maryland and Virginia combined. They will assist any family that comes in for this service. I also found out that they have serviced families from as far as the United Kingdom. The DC employee that assisted the complainer this is her norm and she is very passionate to this program. This is a free service for anyone that needs the help. AND GUESS WHAT THEY OFFER FREE CHILD BOOSTER SEATS TO DC RESIDENTS. WOW!! What a service. I think the blogger was frustrated because they waited until the due anytime hour and the mother’s hormones and nervousness kicked in. KEEP UP THE COULD WORK MPD for keeping the streets safe and the babies in the vehicle SAFE. THANK YOU! THANK YOU! THANK YOU!

  • Well, I hate to point out the obvious, but if you are about to be the parent of a carseat-age child, your entire life is going to be full of resolving completely unpredictable problems and having to figure things out for yourself. If I wasn’t able to install the seat myself, or get my local police department to do it for me, I’d have to think “well, there’s about five dozen other local police jurisdictions within fifteen miles of DC. Maybe I should phone up one of them!” or, call up one of the maternity wards of a local hospital, maybe even the one you were planning to have deliver your own child, and ask them if they have someone who can install it for you (most do).
    If you’re having a child, you need to learn to be self-sufficient and fix problems yourself. If you expect others to resolve problems for you, your kid is in for a rough childhood and you are in for a big surprise.

  • Just do it yourself. You are going to do it a million times anyway so you had better learn now. MPD sets up temporary stations to process people who protest so that they don’t have to be in the Central Cell Block with real criminals. It actually protects the rights of protesters so that they are not victimized. Locking up protesters is the last thing that they want to deal with. if you are going to be mad, you should be mad at the protesters, not MPD. I’m not saying that you should be mad, but if you are, you need to redirect your anger.

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