“Until then, I’ll continue to carry my mace.”

mace
Photo by PoPville flickr user slatifolia

“Dear PoPville,

I went to the police station with a friend to make a report of the incident, but the cop unfortunately told me based on the story I’ve provided it was not sufficient (so my friend asked: what is “enough” to make a report?). Another friend of mine was disappointed with the lack of response from the cop and suggested that I reach out to spread awareness.

On Friday late evening/early Saturday morning at 3am, I was followed by a guy about 5’4″, 30-ish, Hispanic, from the intersection of Mt. Pleasant & 15th towards Harvard & 14th. At first, the guy followed by bike as I was heading down towards the direction of Irving. He tried engaging in conversation, but I ignored him as I kept walking. At one moment, the guy disappeared (between Irving & Columbia along 15th street) and occasionally I looked over my shoulder to make sure he wasn’t there. That’s when I took out my keys, along with my mace, so I didn’t have to dig for them while standing at my door.

As I approached 15th & Harvard, that’s when I noticed a shadow following unusually close behind me. Instinctively I picked up pace and so did the person. It was the same guy on the bike! This time following by foot! About halfway walking down Harvard, I felt his hand pull me from my hip and immediately I turned around and used my mace on him. He ran off in the opposite direction before I could see his face.

This sounds like the same thing that happened back in 2014 to another woman, same location & time-frame. A reward was offered, but I don’t know if it was ever solved or if anyone stepped forward.

I’m honestly so upset that the cop sounded more amused than willing to help or make an effort to reassure some action will be made. Instead, I received a lecture that using my mace could have gotten me in trouble. At least I tried instead of keeping my mouth shut about this.

I truly wished I could enjoy new establishments within pockets of neighborhoods, but this just ruins the mood thinking I’ll someday won’t make it safely walking less than 10 minutes going home.

Until then, I’ll continue to carry my mace.

Thank you for making the time & effort reading this. Thought people should know & be aware.”

57 Comment

  • Contact the MPD commander (Kishter?).

    • +1 — I was about to say the same thing. I believe Kishter retired (or moved to a new position), but contact whoever his replacement is.

  • If you feel the police failed to assist you in reporting this crime, I strongly encourage you to contact the Lieutenant or Commander in charge of your PSA or district.

    PSA map: http://mpdc.dc.gov/node/206712 District commander: http://mpdc.dc.gov/node/206722

  • You should absolutely contact a more senior police supervisor, and alert your ANC representative, who can help ensure this gets the attention it deserves. I am sorry you had to endure such a scary incident. .

  • The area you were in starts in the 4th police district and and then goes to the 3rd district, you could try going to the district you did not go to.

    It is silly that you should have to go again, but it could work.

    You could try reaching out to the Network for Victim Recovery of DC, http://www.nvrdc.org

  • I’m so sorry this happened to you. I agree with other comments – please contact more senior police officials regarding this situation. It sounds like you prevented a very serious crime and they need to know there was an attempt in the area. Stay safe!

  • SilverSpringGal

    Hmm, any links to small/unobtrusive cans or bottles of mace? As for the ‘trouble’ part, what are the rules?

    Sorry you were accosted.

    • In DC, you’re required to register mace with the police department. http://mpdc.dc.gov/page/mace-pepper-spray-and-self-defense-sprays

      • No, the seller is required to register it. The purchaser is not. Therefore if you buy it elsewhere, you just need to make sure the material is allowed (see the same MPD webpage).

        • That’s not what that page says: “the seller will provide a registration form to be completed by the purchaser.”

          • But is incumbent on the seller to submit it. If the seller is not in DC or does not provide the form to the purchaser, the purchaser is not under any obligation to contact MPD. I’ll ask our communications team to make that more clear on the webpage.

          • Thanks for the helpful feedback on the webpage. We are updating it to make it more clear that under District law, the purchaser only needs to fill out the form provided by the seller if he/she buys self-defense spray in the District. He or she does not need to do anything besides filling out that form. I hope this helps to clear up any confusion.

      • DC law also prohibits the actions that the OP described, but clearly it didn’t stop the perp…

    • HaileUnlikely

      DC law specifies the chemical composition of pepper-spray-type-things that are legal. I’m not sure whether Mace qualifies (not saying it doesn’t, just saying the specs are very specific and I do not know whether they include mace or not)

    • I think the only way she could have gotten in trouble for it was if the spray wasn’t registered. Here are the rule from MPD http://mpdc.dc.gov/page/mace-pepper-spray-and-self-defense-sprays You should buy your spray here in DC so that it can be registered.

    • I just purchased mace at ACE Hardware over the weekend. They keep them on the wall behind the registers so you need to ask. They gave me a short form to complete – basically name, address, DOB – and you need to show your drivers license for proof of age (must be over 21). They keep one copy, you keep one and that’s it. The seller is required to submit it to the MPD. The choices ranged from $11.99 to $14.99.

    • I think the trouble has to do with agitating the assailant without incapacitating him. The narrative sounds plausible enough; I dunno if anyone’s compiled a lot of data on how often this happens.

    • A friend who is a police officer in NC recommended this: http://www.galls.com/first-defense-mk6-personal-size-2-percent-pepper-spray

      and I carry it everywhere. I didn’t register it (bad, I know) but I’d rather get in trouble for having it than wishing I did. Also, be cognizant if you are going into a federal building or museum with metal detectors – they will make you throw it away.

  • This is ridiculous. You were the victim of a crime; it’s the lazy cop’s job to take crime reports. Did the officer at least explain what further information is needed to file a report? It seems like if you have time, location, and general description, you can file a report. Did they expect you to ask your assaulter for ID? Jeesh…

  • They may have declined because you used (I assume) unregistered mace and they would have to charge you with a crime for its discharge also because DC makes defending yourself illegal.

  • This sounds very similar to something that happened to me in 2012. I noticed I was being followed by a 20-something Hispanic dude on a bike while on my way to the Columbia Heights Metro station, he tried talking to me, I thought he went away, and all of a sudden I felt a hard yank on my purse. It was the same guy, but he was on foot (and a few inches shorter than me–I am 5’8″). I somehow managed to hang onto my purse (thank you, fake materials that stretch like rubber), but he kept pulling. I kicked him, started screaming, and a nice guy a block or so away ran over to help me. The would-be mugger ran away.

  • Yes to what everyone else said about reporting this dope a$% cop for failing to do his job. So sorry you went through this. I had similar incidents happen to me TWICE and can say that both times the officers that responded handled me with respect and support. Even when I called hours after one incident, they sent an officer to take my complaint and he commanded me for doing the right thing and reporting. So I think/hope this dope you had to deal with is an anomaly that should be dealt by his superiors.

    That said, regardless of how police responds, you carry that mace with you, girl, and be ready to use (and not just at night). I’d rather deal with the so-called trouble mace can get you in than with a sexual assault.

  • Actually, you only have to register it if you buy it in DC. If you buy it elsewhere (say VA since who knows where you could actually purchase this in the District) you do not have to register it, but it should conform to the guidelines MPD lays out in terms of chemicals/date marking, etc. I just called MPD to ask about this last week.

  • Thin line I guess between what the writer considers “assault” or “stalking” as opposed to unwanted and aggressive advances. The lack of response from police probably lies in this grey area as the man technically did not do anything criminal outside of pursuing a woman to either re-engage in conversation or allegedly assault you. Neither of which occurred as the writer defended herself. Its a tough one when there are actual real live crimes going on at 3am all over the District that have not been averted as this one. Sure they could look out for this guy but what exactly can they do. Plenty of people in Mt Pleasant fit that description. I would caution walking home at that time of hour by yourself. Should you be able to? Sure, but I wouldn’t advise it. I wouldnt want my wife, daughter, mom, etc to be walking around Mt Pleasant at 3am alone.

    • I would assume that since he put his hands on her, that counts as assault.

    • The OP says “I felt his hand pull me from my hip” — it sounds like there was physical contact.

    • You are incorrect. This was a crime. The lack of response lies on the responding officer. At the very least, the police should have taken a report. With a small amount of effort they could have canvassed the area for the suspect. DC Criminal Code § 22–404: “(a) (1) Whoever unlawfully assaults, or threatens another in a menacing manner, shall be fined not more than the amount set forth in § 22‑3571.01 or be imprisoned not more than 180 days, or both.”
      .
      I’m not sure precisely how DC courts define assault, but it’s usually an extremely broad term that includes a person receiving an unwanted touch. This is not a fine line, it’s a pretty broad line that was most likely crossed, based on this person’s description, i.e. “I felt his hand pull me from my hip.” That could be sufficient to constitute assault and the police should have taken a report.

    • Don’t blame the victim by saying it’s unadvisable to walk at 3am. We all know that you have to be aware of your environment at different times of the day, that doesn’t mean this isn’t a “real live crime” or that you shouldn’t report crimes that take place during “unadvisable” hours according to some nitwit that has clearly no empathy for what it’s like to feel unsafe and threatened in a situation that should be safe for every person (it sucks we live in a world where walking home at night has to come with precautions, especially for single females, but it is what it is). This guy has no right to stalk and/or touch someone at 3am or 3pm, male or female, adult or child, single person walking or a group of people walking. Criminal behavior is criminal behavior. Whatever cop discounted that report sounds just as bad as you, staksp. Help society modify the behavior of the perpetrator, not the behavior of the victim.

    • Wow. Maybe the fact that she was wearing a puffer coat big enough to clothe a baby elephant, four scarves, and hats enough for Dobby the House-elf meant that she was asking for it, too? She should certainly make sure to dress less provocatively, leave the house only in daylight hours, only go out in the company of male relatives, and, better yet, never leave the house at all.
      .
      As others have pointed out, you’re wrong about any “grey area;” unwanted touching is assault. Now, just stop being such a victim-blaming troll.

      • Caroline, you are indeed reaching. I never even commented on the woman’s appearance or clothes. Its just my experience in my 35 years of living in this area that Mt Pleasant is not safe for a single individual male or female to walk home alone at 3am. Call it victim blaming or any catch phrase you want. Its just my DC experience as Mt Pleasant has always had a high number of sexual assaults but hey to each its own.

        The name calling was a bit immature as well

        • Seriously, it’s ridiculous you can’t even suggest that taking a cab/uber instead of walking home alone at 3 am is somehow victim blaming. JFC, I’m a big 250 lb bearded brown guy, and even I would definitely not to walk home alone at 3 am in MP.

  • I have learned when dealing with DC cops, if you show a knowledge of who their commanders are, they suddenly treat you better. Sad but true.

  • Councilmember Brianne Nadeau would suggest that this crime is the result of you not preemptively patrolling the area with your neighbors and reporting suspicious activity. I kid you not!

    Also, given the description of the perp, Councilmember Brianne Nadeau would promptly assist him with his asylum claim and make sure he has free housing.

    • @Thought

      Given that her description was rather general, I assume your really trying to impose your biases on this situation. There is no way to know a persons immigration status from their appearance and asylees are hard-pressed to gain any relief without people like you belittling their situations. Many latinos in DC are the product of refugee relocation in the early 80’s and have long family histories in the area. Additionally, a majority of them have at least a temporary protective status which they have to work hard to maintain and renew every 18 months. As for your claim about free housing, this shows how little you know about public benefits since most immigrants are barred from receiving assistance.

  • nightborn

    So glad you had mace and were able to deter him.

  • Wait until THAT guy files a report for assault and they come and arrest you…BUMMER!

  • On the subject of cops reluctant to take reports– wondering if anyone can provide insight on something I experienced inside Union Station this weekend. I witnessed a possible child welfare issue– not violence, but an incompetent parent in the legal sense of “incompetent”– the parent appeared unable to care even for themselves– I am not talking about a parenting style issue here. I (and others) were concerned enough that we found a cop in the station– a member of the Amtrak police dept– and reported what we’d seen. I realize that they have certain charges and jurisdictions, but shouldn’t he, at least, called it in to the right department? Instead, he told us that it’s a CPS issue and the courts never take the kids away anyway, etc etc… I said I wanted someone to just check things out with this parent/child, since they were still in the train station. I had to be very persistent pushy, and eventually when he saw the people in question, it turned out that they were actually traveling with their already-existing case worker. But I am still bothered by the cop’s preference to brush off the report. What is the proper role for Amtrak police in a situation like this? I looked online and came up empty.)

    • There’s a hotline to report abuse and neglect. Even in criminal activity incidents (say, a child in the house during a drug raid) it has to be reported to CFSA for investigation. He would have had to report it to the hotline as well, although I’m guessing it would have garnered swifter attention from a police officer.

      The CFSA # is 202-671-SAFE for future reference.

    • May post a duplicate entry because my internet is being wonky, but wanted to say he would have had to report the incident to CFSA (DCs child welfare agency) too. Even in cases of criminal activity (say, kids left during a drug bender, etc) the policy make the report trough the child welfare hotline.

      For future reference the hotline in DC to report abuse and neglect is 202-671-SAFE.

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