“Your blog should also be seen by myself and others as a way to keep cops and the system accountable”

Photo by PoPville flickr user Eric P.

“Dear PoPville,

On Saturday night I saw something at the third Metropolitan Police Department headquarters that made me and my girlfriend very uneasy. As we waited for the bus stop at 17th and U I could see a couple waiting outside the parking structure that connects to the police department. After a minute or two a police SUV rolled out of the structure and the couple, both of them, jumped into the front passenger seat of the police car. The man did not put on his seat belt and the woman just jumped up on his lap, and they drove off down the street towards 18th. I called the Third District office immediately and told them exactly what happened. I also noted to the receptionist that I didn’t expect anything to come of this even if the person was apprehended or caught red handed because of the fact it was one of their own, and a “minor” offense. I just needed them to know that a concerned citizen had become more concerned about his neighborhood and those who are supposed to protect it after this childish (and illegal) action taken by one of our city’s “finest”.

Cops should be much more reticent to abuse power, especially in uniform or police vehicle, in the age of cell phone cameras. I took a few pictures of the incident. I do not wish to connect with the police to share these pictures nor do I wish to share my name here for I know the unintended actions that might come from a whistleblower event or “unnecessary agitation” such as this.

Obviously I have seen mentions of the “Props to the Cops” on your blog before but this singular incident and I’m sure many others like it are the exact reasons that I and others lose confidence in the police system. Your blog should also be seen by myself and others as a way to keep cops and the system accountable as well.”

124 Comment

  • Not to mention right in front of all those onlookers in Vida…

  • Linc Park SE

    I don’t get why you are so upset by this? Maybe they were victims of a crime and he was giving them a lift home nearby. Of all the things to worry about – this seems pretty minor.

    • I doubt that a police officer is going to let two victims of a crime climb into a single seat – in the front no less – and then drive them home. The OP is upset because the officer is clearly using a police vehicle to shuttle friends around. What is more troubling is that the officer may have used his/her sirens to get through lights when using the vehicle for unauthorized purposes.

      • “What is more troubling is that the officer may have used his/her sirens to get through lights when using the vehicle for unauthorized purposes.”

        What? Where on earth did this come from? Now we’re just going to start proposing illegal/unethical things that the officer *could* have also done, just cuz?

      • If it’s a take home car, then he’s allowed to “use a police vehicle to shuttle friends around”. They’re supposed to wear seat belts, but lots of cops never wear them, so it’s not surprising that they wouldn’t be.
        Honestly, some of you need to get a grip. Don’t sweat the small stuff.

        • Agreed. Is it Hyperbole Day and no one told me? For example, here are just a few from Original Emailer:
          “made me and my girlfriend very uneasy” – very uneasy? I’d have been very uneasy about the naked teen shouting profanity posted about yesterday. I’m not sure I’d have noticed this.
          “if the person was apprehended ” – you are expecting a manhunt? A high speed car chase?
          “singular incident . . . [is] the exact reasons that I and others lose confidence in the police system” – I can’t even.
          “I am amazed how everyone here doesn’t care about cops brazenly breaking the law,”
          “No wonder DC feels less and less smart each passing day…” – Because we keep reading nonsense like this.
          “If this is the sort of shit going down in white affluent neighborhoods in DC, I can only imagine what happens in other neighborhoods.” – As someone pointed out, this is astonishingly tone deaf.
          “taking time to call out misuse of public funds and illegal actions by police” – we should have a march!

      • DC CapHill

        If he didn’t want said victims to feel like the perps by riding in the back, “behind bars” where he would then need to also let them back out of the back seat since everything is disabled so the criminals can’t let themselves out, yeah, I can see two folks riding up front to ID some perps in a stick-up, absolutely.

        Not everything is as it appears, we need to all quite with the immediate rush to judgment.

    • Yeah, the couple was very happy, laughing, carrying a carry out food container. Not the type of “let me drive you home” situation.

    • I suspect there are very serious rule/regs about civilians in police cars for liability sake. And then there is the fact that it is mostly likely that the officer is using his cruiser for things other than police work which I am quite certain is against regs.

      • Yes, I forgot to mention he drove off without turning on his headlights. Obviously distracted by his passengers

        • Many cops are allowed to take their police vehicles home at the end of a shift. Maybe he was giving a lift to friends who live nearby? No matter, I get the point that people should follow rules, but in the scheme of things – especially when DC police do not enforce traffic laws pretty much at all – this seems relatively minor.

  • What is the offense? Citizens riding in the police car without seatbelts?

  • This seems like a very silly thing to be upset over. The complaint was that the passengers in the cop car did not wear their seat belts, is that right? Seems like there are far more egregious things that you could complain about than this.

    • The guy in the passenger seat got in, didn’t wear his seatbelt, and then a woman came in and sat on top of him in his lap. I am amazed how everyone here doesn’t care about cops brazenly breaking the law, no matter how small. No wonder DC feels less and less smart each passing day…

  • I honestly don’t even understand what this person is insinuating. Are they mad the officer didn’t make someone put their seat belt on?

    • The seat belt part seemed incidental. I believe that the primary concern was that the officer was using a city-owned police car to shuttle friends around, which doesn’t seem like a use that is authorized. I wonder what the city’s liability would have been had the officer crashed the vehicle with the two people in the front.

  • Perhaps they were undercover officers being transported to work their beat in Adams Morgan.

  • That’s a whole lot of words and energy wasted on such a minor digression.

    • Yeah. There’s a quote from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off that described this complaint perfectly. Something about coal, and a diamond.

  • I thought this was about to be some truly salacious tale. I was mistaken.

    • I love how everyone here doesn’t give a shit about cops brazenly breaking the law. No wonder DC is fucked.

      • Am not aware this is the case

        • Should cops not break laws? Yes. Are cops human? Yes. I would just hope that one wouldn’t break a law that ends up injuring anyone other than himself in the process.
          Original Emailer – I get why you’re upset, but from my perspective, while this is certainly an issue of potential unauthorized use of a vehicle that could have injured someone, I think we have a lot bigger fish to fry than a policeman driving unbuckled friends around when police are injuring or killing unarmed citizens while on duty in this country.

      • No, you are mistaken. Brazenly breaking the law is shooting an unarmed man or choking someone out for trying to sell a cigarette. allegedly giving two friends a ride for a distance no one here can cite, and for a purpose you don’t know about, at it’s worst, is merely a cop abusing a very small benefit of his job (the vehicle). At its best, there may be a very good reason. you clearly have something against police that doesn’t allow you to look at anything involving them in any other way than from your own myopic viewpoint. I would like to reiterate your final sentence with a small twist, with people like you living here focused on wether or not a police officer gives some others a ride rather than the things that actually matter, no wonder DC is fucked.

  • All things being equal, this may not be a big deal, but given the current reputation of DC PD; it is a big deal. I’ve seen police in Petworth and Brightwood do unbelievable things like ignore a crime taking place in front of their eyes! Do they ever even make any arrests? Where is VICE? Sitting in a car playing on your iPhone waiting for a 911 call is not policing.
    I’m only speaking for District 4, but it’s awful compared to other parts of DC I’ve lived in as well as other metropolitan areas. I don’t think the Mayor even knows whats happening.

  • This will be sure to get the PoPville haters on Reddit fired up and overly upset.

  • I’ll be sure to avoid that bus stop in the future.

  • This person is either Grandpa Simpson or has WAY too much time on their hands if this is the bone they chose to pick with/about MPD.

    Either that or someone’s trolling the blog again.

  • jim_ed


  • I’m asking because sometimes tone doesn’t make it through text. Is the OP trying to say something without actually saying it. Or is this post to be taken at face value and a police officer had 2 passengers who didn’t use a seat belt? I actually read this post a few times to see if I was missing what the OP was putting down. Like he or she caught the officer soliciting a prostitute or buying drugs.

    Also, I have questions. I thought dc police were aloud to drive their cars home? If they are are they not aloud to have non-police officers in them. For example, what if the officer in this case was headed home and picking up his teenage daughter on the way home. Obviously I am exaggerating the example in this case but I’m just curious. Like if you had a young kid you had to drop off at school on the way to the precinct. Could you do that?

    • Aloud = out loud
      Allowed = permitted to

      I believe the problem is that there were two passengers in the front passenger seat, one on the other’s lap. That is clearly illegal.

    • I believe the are allowed but it is likely official policy. Letting two civilians sit in the front seat may not be.

    • Once a 3D cop picked up my girlfriend who was trying to hail a cab in central Adams Morgan at 330 in the morning for her 4am shift and he gave her a ride all the way down to K Street in the squad car! Now that is a Public Service! We weren’t actually married yet, I was happy he was concerned about my girl being out on the street at 3am, but then wondered if perhaps he was just trying to score a date?!! I never asked if she used her seat belt.

  • To all the commenters who don’t understand why the OP is upset: It seems perfectly reasonable to be annoyed that a police officer in an official vehicle can’t even follow very, very basic safety proceedures.

    • As an indicator of the inability to do even very basic things correctly, I get it.
      But Im’ not worked up to the point that I’m going to write letters and march about this, specifically, when cops are shooting and killing unarmed citizens across the country (and their victims are disproportionately likely to be African-American).

    • Calling the police station to report this AND posting about it on a blog as if it was some major crime is more than being “annoyed.” I think the negative reaction is due to people reading that first sentence and expecting to hear about some behavior that really was worth getting upset about.

  • I’m surprised by a lot of these comments. Shouldn’t we expect our police officers to obey the law, especially when they are in uniform?

    • +1 EXACTLY. It doesn’t matter how small the offense is, shouldn’t we be expecting our police officers to uphold EVERY law?

      • Yeah we should- But to say it made both him(assuming) and his girlfriend uneasy is a bit much.

        • I agree we should. But I think both calling the police station AND telling PoPville all about it was a little much. If I had seen it, I probably would have forgotten all about it within an hour or so. (Also we’re already short on police in this city and while I’d love if we had hundreds of perfect citizens working for us that seems slightly unrealistic.)

          • Agreed. Calling the station/district “might” have an impact (and following up about it might make someone get the appropriate wrist slap). Writing to Popville…. I don’t really know what that accomplishes, unless the point is to inspire us to do similar?

            But the last sentence seems like the OP wants more blog posts about mild bad cop behavior (that don’t accomplish anything), not more calls to stations/districts (that might accomplish something).

          • I agree jdre.

  • eye roll.

  • Or maybe they were fellow officers in plain clothes on official business? Maybe the back was filled with other officers or technical gear? Someone standing across the street or commenting on a blog is really not in a position to say.

  • I saw this occur as well.

    Like the OP said, there were 2 passengers in the front seat not wearing a seat belt. But, beyond that one of them was sitting on the other’s lap — behavior you typically see from drunk college kids catching a ride home, NOT in the front seat of a police car. ALSO, the cop pulled out of the station without turning on his headlights — clearly distracted by the 2 passengers stacked up in his front seat.

    All in all it just seems irresponsible.

    YES this is not as big of a deal as other issues we could be complaining about. But, this is something that so easily could not have happened. Why should we accept behavior like this even though it’s the least of our worries? Because it’s so simple, wouldn’t that suggest even bigger issues and misconduct could occur?

  • OP should have made a citizens arrest.

    • Ally

      Threading got botched. My +1 was to the 2nd commentator who was confused as to why this made the OP so upset. I don’t get it either. Small potatoes. Very small potatoes.

  • I;m not brimming with fury, but I’m perplexed as to why most of the comments seem to think this is 100% fine. To recap, the female passenger was on THE LAP of the male passenger, and both were in the front passenger seat. Why is that okay? If you got pulled over driving like that, what do you think would have happened? I expect our police officers to uphold the law, and that means abiding by ALL of them.

    • Ally

      It’s not that it’s okay. It’s that it falls so below the threshold of things to worry about and report. Not to soapbox (too much), but we have homeless people on the street and major, major, major crimes to worry about.

      • I will never understand why people think that because there are big problems in the world, no one should worry about smaller problems. If we decide climate change is the biggest problem on earth, does that mean we throw all other problems out the window until it is solved and then move on down the list? I’m pretty sure most people are capable of caring about something while understanding it is not going to get an exposé in the Post.

        • What action am I supposed to take? The OP called the district to inform them of what was observed. I laud them for that. I agree the officer did something stupid.
          I didn’t see it, and have at the moment no reports of the prevalence of such things (like I do for the killing of unarmed citizens) – so writing in to the district to agree with the OP would be essentially hearsay, adding nothing to the effort.
          If the tone of the OP was “hey everyone, let’s make sure we report what we see,” I could get behind that. If it was “join me in writing to the appropriate officials to improve policing in general,” I could get behind that. However, as written, it’s sort of a complaint without a suggestion, so I don’t know what to get behind, here.

          • Well, no one is asking you to get behind anything. So I don’t see the problem.

          • @nevermind…
            So, does that then mean that the OP was just… whining? Was there no larger point to the rant(s)?

          • My post was meant to encourage others to say things, yes. But, I see that you and others here are more in the business of discouraging this sort of reporting. Thanks for helping society on the big ticket items, you DC go-getter. I’m sure you work on the Hill or somewhere where people are fixing the big issues facing the local region and country…

      • I think you’re missing the point here. It is not that this sort of misconduct is more important than the larger issues, it’s that if an officer cannot manage to uphold his most basic ethics, responsibilities, and conduct how can we possibly expect him/her to manage the major problems facing our city.
        You’re absolutely right, there are much much bigger problems to deal with in DC, but if I saw this myself I don’t think it would sit well with me either.

      • DC – The world capitol of death by a thousand cuts.

        If I witnessed a cop smoking weed on a corner, wouldn’t that be a less serious/illegal offense in DC? I’m sure this blog’s readers, including those who said this was small beans would be freaking out more so for a less serious offense. My overarching point – cops who have been hired to uphold the law should not break it at all.

        If this is the sort of shit going down in white affluent neighborhoods in DC, I can only imagine what happens in other neighborhoods.

        Thank you all for reminding me why I shouldn’t have sent this in as well as discouraging others to send in these tips and hold cops accountable to breaking the law. Let’s all turn a blind eye to police indiscretions, and Make America Great Again. I

        ‘ll be sure to not send this in the future so POPville can be the purveyor of all things that matter to DC’s entitled millennials : real estate and fun drinking events. Carry on.

        • “If this is the sort of shit going down in white affluent neighborhoods in DC, I can only imagine what happens in other neighborhoods. Thank you all for reminding me why I shouldn’t have sent this in as well as discouraging others to send in these tips and hold cops accountable to breaking the law. Let’s all turn a blind eye to police indiscretions, and Make America Great Again.”
          This is a truly inspirational level of tone deafness. Congrats?

    • Ally

      It’s not that it’s okay. It’s that we have such many, many bigger issues to worry about, that this is a confusing post. Why not channel all that energy into buying a meal for a homeless person or into weighing in on how to stop major violent crimes? This is the same level of angst I see when I see someone stand to the left of the metro. It’s annoying and they shouldn’t do it, but why is it worth complaining about when it’s not a systemic issue?

      • As if you know my philanthropy or focus or lack thereof on homeless and other issues… Believe me, I’ve called and reported violent crimes as well. Who are you to say police abusing power is not systemic?

    • Yeah, I don’t think anyone has said it is 100% fine. Just that they aren’t aching to start a letter writing campaign about this specific incident. There’s a middle ground between thinking it’s “fine,” and taking action.

    • I don’t think anyone thinks it is 100% fine. It just strikes me, and I am guessing others here, odd that the original e-mailer was so taken aback by this that they 1. took pictures, 2. called the precinct, 3. typed it up, 4. emailed a blog, 5. are making very upset comments in response to people here. It is just a rather trivial thing to get that upset about. Is the officer wrong. Yup. Should they be held accountable. Most definitely. Seat belt laws are just farther down my list of priorities when it comes to police accountability. And I get that seemingly small things can irk someone. I guess I just find it odd that this is the situation that drove the OP over the edge.

      • What surprised me more are all the people (maybe even from MPD!) like yourself taking all this time and effort to try bemoan me for taking time to call out misuse of public funds and illegal actions by police as well as my attempt to and help community policing be more accountable via the press, rather than formally file a report again, as it would be an uphill battle.

        But please, go on in the comments of a blog about how writing into a blog post is going too far for a “small issue” like this….

        • What “misuse of public funds and illegal actions”? The only crime you spotted was a seat belt violation, which is a $50 Fine & 2 Points. Police with take-home cars are explicitly “permitted to transport civilian passengers when operating a take-home vehicle off-duty”. So a cop can, for example, tell his friends to wait on the corner while he finishes his shift, and then pick them up and drive away in an official police car.

        • but how is writing an anonymous blog post helping to make community policing more accountable? how is writing snarky comments helping to make community policing more accountable?

          Will you take this to your next neighborhood crime meeting? Do you know they hold those? Will you take this to your ANC at all? Will you file an official report? Will you post this blog to the 3rd district’s yahoo group listserv?

          • I am aware of all the activities available in your assumption-filled response.

            No, I will not, because as I said, I wish to remain anonymous because of the fact that I am calling out a public official for an illegal act. I’ve seen how this sort of thing gets handled or not before. As others in the thread have mentioned, this sort of act is minor, so I won’t be trying to pound doors to get it figured out, but I do know the power of PoPVille to catch the ear of local officials and make everyone else more aware.
            Thank you all for playing “He shouldn’t care about something this small and write about it so let’s write about it and tell him how much he shouldn’t have cared to write.”

  • This website is turning into “hey I saw something slightly upsetting in DC so lets all talk about that.” It’s really becoming annoying. Stories like this belong as a comment under one of those Random Rant things.

  • Linc Park SE

    I feel like the OP meeps commenting/agreeing with self under different monikers.

    Most of you are breaking your own company’s rules spending time on a blog during work hours. Also – relatively – small potatoes.

  • Rasputin

    “You there. Yes, you, officer. Citizen’s arrest!”

  • That station is the worst. I had a friend from out of town who went for a run in Rock Creek Park and was grabbed from behind in an attempt to wrestle her to the ground and… God only knows. She was able to get away from the guy and ran to Rock Creek Parkway where a good citizen let her get in her car. She dropped my friend to this station to report it. The cops said it wasn’t their jurisdiction (true, and fair) but made no attempt to be kind or comforting in any way. My friend asked if there was any way someone could give her a ride back to my place, and they said no. She had no idea where she was or how to get back to my place, no cash, no phone (this was before smartphones were prevalent). When she asked if they could at least direct her, the woman at the station, without looking at her, pointed at one of the walls and said, “Walk that way.”

    Also, instead of calling the National Park Police so they could, I don’t know, search the area for someone who was assaulting women in the park, they chose to do nothing. Seems like they’re fine bending the rules when it benefits them, but when it comes to helping the general public, ehhh, not in their job description.

    • Yeah, this is the kind of police misbehavior that, if true, is worth complaining about. I do hope that this resulted in an actual complaint being filed.

      • I don’t think it did, but I wish it had. I had just graduated from college and had no idea how anything worked. Now? I would have absolutely raised hell on her behalf.

  • Pretty sure 1pm is PoP’s “time to post something everyone can argue about for the rest of the afternoon” time. Hah!

  • “Obviously I have seen mentions of the “Props to the Cops” on your blog before but **this singular incident and I’m sure many others like it are the exact reasons that I and others lose confidence in the police system.**”
    Yeah, no. This was stupid of them and annoying to you, but not even close to on level with the actual incidences that have damaged most people’s confidence in the police system. The fact that this has been burning you up boggles my mind: is this honest-to-god the worst thing you’ve ever seen a cop do?

    • The juxtaposition of “Props to the Cops” and this alleged incident would make sense if PoP was posting threads in which the Cops were getting Props for riding around with their seatbelts on or obeying traffic regulations. I don’t see how posts in which Cops are commended for responding to a crime quickly or putting in the time to identify and arrest criminal suspects are undermined or countered by a police officer giving a ride to someone who doesn’t have a seatbelt on. “Yeah the police caught the people who beat up and robbed a couple on a Metro platform BUT on the other hand I saw a cop giving a civilian a ride without making sure the person put a seatbelt on.”

  • Jeez, people — be nice. Like most, I think the OP was disproportionately worked up about this particular incident… but there’s no need to ridicule him/her.

  • I would be curious to see the overlap on comments here of people OUTRAGED by ticketing alcohol drinkers on the Mall (accompanied by vitriol against Park Police) or jaywalkers (accompanied by vitriol against MPD) and those OUTRAGED at this MPD officer’s behavior (stupid and unsafe, but probably his take home car). There seem to be a lot of people who are prepared to contest tickets, etc to the highest levels when they receive them, but….
    Anyway, it is lovely out today! Makes ME happy.

  • Not even phased by this! Countless times I see Md. tags break traffic laws in front of MPD cruisers who do not do one thing about it. (i.e. blow up 15th NW going straight in the left turn lanes)

    • As several people have pointed out on this blog, MPD officers are (for the most part) not responsible for enforcing traffic violations. Although one time I did see an officer pull someone over who almost hit a pedestrian who had the right of way. So that was cool.

  • In the spirit of bringing these scofflaws to justice I fashioned a bat signal from some construction paper and a flashlight and shined it out my window. But the OP called the cops on me for excessive illumination and now I’m going to jail.

  • I feel like this person’s talents and key eye for police abuse of power would be more useful for a place like Baltimore.

  • I’d hate to have to xmas shop for the op, also I’m gonna go out on a limb a say they weren’t raised anywhere near the countryside. We’d roll 5-6 people deep in a pickup truck then maybe another 4 or 5 in the bed, down country roads and probably drinking beer & smokin dope.

  • right now, the traffic light is out at 17th and U. i mentioned it to one of the three cops sitting in their cars, playing on their phones, on 17th st. let’s see how long it takes one of them to get out and actually do some traffic control.

  • Now this made my day. Oh DC, got to love it. Haha.

  • It’s that much closer to quitting time, but geez, I’ll never get back the time I’ve spent reading this.

    To OP/Original Emailer – We all have things that seem like a big obvious deal to us while they don’t faze folks around us. Your reaction to this incident is valid because it’s your own; I can’t say that you should feel one way or another (though I might suggest for your health that you be more judicious about which things you get spittle-flyingly enraged over). But with that same reasoning, you need to accept the validity of those who have no cares to give about an issue.

    And a tip: insulting people (“I also noted to the receptionist that I didn’t expect anything to come of this … because of the fact it was one of their own”) (“Thanks for helping society on the big ticket items, you DC go-getter”) has never been shown to make them want to help you or join your cause.

  • OP must have fainted when they got on a city bus filled with people not wearing their seatbelts

  • The things that people, especially in this city, get so upset/mortally offended over are just incredible. Why can’t everyone just stop feeling their feelings all the time and worry about things that actually matter?!

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