Special Police Officer Scares the Crap Out of Foggy Bottom Friday Night

M16
Photo courtesy Gina

Given the current climate, probably best to leave this shirt at home when off duty and wearing fatigues and gear and such. In case you missed the excitement Friday (we tweeted the situation @PoPville and on Facebook here. Thanks to all who sent updates.) night a reader sums it up:

“GW pushed out a campus emergency alert about a man spotted at 24th and Penn with an M16, body armor and a t-shirt reading “I love machine gun” (sic).

Here’s the tweet from the official GW account:

About 40 minutes later, they gave the all clear, saying the suspect was in custody:

Then MPD tweeted the kicker: “No arrest. Person of Interest was an off duty Special Police Officer.”

66 Comment

  • So why is an off-duty officer wearing a shirt that says he loves guns while simultaneously carrying a gun?

    • The answer seems obvious. He loves guns…and lacks common sense.

    • He didn’t have a gun. He had a shirt on, with the outline of a gun. Which is now apparently an arrest-able offense in DC.

      • I think that’s a rifle over his shoulder. In any event, the report was that he had an M16.

        • HaileUnlikely

          Fair enough. I’d prefer not to guess what he has over his shoulder, but will take on faith that the person who called 911 had a better view than this photo provides. Aside from what the caller actually saw and what he or she actually reported, and aside from whether or not this guy actually did have a big gun, my experiences with 911 call takers have led me to have no difficulty imagining that a person called in for a suspicious person wearing “a shirt with [a picture of] an M-16 on it” leading to a dispatch for a suspect armed with an M-16.

  • Maybe I’m missing the point, but how does this man being “a special police officer” make this episode okay? Wearing a bulletproof vest under a gun-enthusist shirt in a weapons-ban jurisdiction in close proximity to sensitive federal offices seems irresponsible. Freedom of speech, sure, but…

  • That picture does not make it seem like he’s got an M-16 slung on his shoulder. There’s no visible barrel or stock, plus if he was really a threat and tac’d out he’d probably have a single point sling with the rifle anchored against his chest, slung on his shoulder. I think we’re getting a little stir-crazy.

    • palisades

      Yes, we’re all a little stir-crazy clearly including this asshat. He should know better especially given his job. Also, the layman has no idea what you’re talking about in regards to sling and barrel and stock. People see a dude with a bigass gun and freak out.

      • +1000

        I don’t want to live in a country where the difference between a good guy and a bad guy with a gun is having the level of training Anonyy purports to have. There’s a reason why every civilized society since ancient Greece heavily restricted the open carrying of weapons in public, and we’re losing our understanding of why as we inch towards the dystopia a radical minority of our population wants.

        • +1000 to palisades and NotGrinchandNotScrooge. To me, large gun (or actually, any gun) = danger.

          • Folks, all I’m saying is that I find it hard to believe this person was carrying a rifle at all. Obviously if he was that would be cause for alarm.

            Some other commenters have noted that it would be highly irregular for a non-federal officer to carry around a weapon. Even if he were a federal officer, the likelihood that he would be leaving or going to work just casually carrying a rifle is highly unlikely.

            Anyway, just making conversation.

          • It IS highly unlikely for a federal or non-federal officer to be carrying around a gun off duty. That’s the whole reason why people were freaking out. Also I don’t understand your earlier point- are you saying it doesn’t look like he’s carrying a gun at all, or that it doesn’t look like he’s carrying that specific gun?

          • HaileUnlikely

            Help me out here – I am really lost. Did he actually have a gun, or just a shirt with a picture of a gun? Please do not guess. If you know the answer, tell me the answer. If you do not know the answer, either do not reply or simply state that you do not know the answer. Do not refer to the GW tweet. “reported to be in possession of” does not mean sh!t.

          • @ Anon 2:19pm:

            To me, the picture does not make it seem like he is carrying a long gun. The strap he’s holding looks like a backpack strap to me. It does seem like he may have a handgun holster on his right hip, and a pouch for an extra magazine on front right side. Often, though, security utility belts will have all of these things by default. I’ve (and I’m sure others) have seen offduty security guard walking around with empty holsters. Hard to tell if this particular individual is packing or not.

            Again, just making conversation. I’m not saying folks don’t have the right to a.) be extra cautious or just afraid in a state of heightened tension, or b.) call the cops. All I ever said was that, to me, from the picture, it does not appear that this individual is carrying an M-16.

          • @Anonyy My only experience with guns has been skeet/trap shooting (twice) and seeing them on police officers. I asked for clarification as you seem to know way more about what to look for than I would. I assumed from the post the man had a gun, it wasn’t until I read the comments that I saw it was up for debate. Thanks for clarifying

        • When did I “purport” to have any training? Just lookin’ at a picture…

          • Lingo like that usually comes with military service or at least some serious fan-boying. If that’s not the case and you’re just making conversation, I get it, especially in light of your more recent post, but — just as when you encounter an individual wearing body armor and possibly carrying a weapon three blocks from the White House — context is key.

      • @Palisades where is his gun?

    • Are you kidding? Considering the uptick of mass shootings this country has experienced in this year alone, people have the right to be freaked out by a person carrying a potential weapon. Call the cops, better safe than sorry.

    • I don’t care what kind of gun it is. Way too many people have been killed in the past week, let alone in the past year. This guy is an idiot who deserves to be put on suspension.

    • Tsar of Truxton

      Yeah, a person in civilian clothing, wearing body armor and walking down the street with some sort of rifle is perfectly normal. We don’t live in Texas with open carry laws, so this is definitely not a normal sight. His t-shirt makes it worse.

      • +1. I can’t see exactly what he’s carrying over his shoulder, but the equipment belt makes me think that even if he’s not carrying a rifle, he may have a holstered gun.

  • I’m gonna go out on a limb and say that this dude does not have nuanced temperament or forethought to be a “Special Police Officer.” This person regularly has the lives of others in his hands.
    W.T.F.

    • Sadly, ‘Special Police’ totally runs the gamut of definitions. Sometimes they’re former (or current and off duty/second job) sworn police officers. Sometimes they’re former or reserve armed forces members. Sometimes they’re just anyone hired by a contracted security firm who can pass a firearms training test.

    • I will admit that I only interact on the regular with the “special police” officers who guard my building, but here’s what I know from chatting with them:
      .
      1. They’re not fully-trained law enforcement officers. Yes, they have some training (including weapons training), but they are not required to have anything beyond what their employer gives them, which brings me to…
      .
      2. They’re contractors. The government (I work in a Federal building) doesn’t directly vet them.
      .
      3. They’re not paid very well. Some have told me they make about $60K/year. That’s not minimum wage, but it’s less than actual police forces in the area. Considering that they rotate in such a way that they sometimes have to work overnights and weekends, it’s kind of a bum rap (I’m not sure if they make shift differential when working those sucky shifts, but the earnings were expressed yearly when that came up, so I assume that would include any overtime or shift differential).
      .
      4. They’re generally really nice, level-headed people. Some of our Special Police officers have been there longer than I have (and that’s a good while). Several know my name. I’ve had a few incidents (like dropping my credit card in a doorway on my way out or forgetting my ID when popping out for just a second to, say, grab lunch from a delivery person) when they’ve gone above and beyond to “serve” me as an employee in the building. They kindly give directions to lost tourists (while often explaining that, no, they cannot come in and tour our office building) and, as far as I’ve seen, don’t have the kind of attitude this guy seems to.
      .
      Bottom line: special police are not true law enforcement officers. They probably run the gamut from people who want a stable working-class job and like interacting with the public (all those I interact with at my office) to those who want to play cops and robbers and couldn’t hack it on an actual law enforcement force. I’m not sure what he’s carrying from the photo, but if I saw someone wearing that shirt who even remotely appeared to be armed, I’d call it in, too. Let the armed police sort it out while I go take cover.

  • Guns guns guns guns guns guns guns guns!
    Seriously, so fed up with this country’s stupid love affair with weapons that kill. If everyone perceives a right to carry guns everywhere, all the time, and if ‘stand your ground’ laws allow paranoid, twitchy idiots to fire them at the slightest provocation or even suspicion, then regular accidental gun murders are going to become normal. Sorry, they HAVE become normal.

  • His other shirt says, “All I need is one reason.”

  • HaileUnlikely

    I agree with those above who say this individual appears to have not exercised the soundest judgment ever.
    .
    However, can somebody please clarify whether he was actually armed? (The reference to the GW tweet doesn’t count. Do not refer me to that tweet. That might have been a correct reporting of a witness who actually observed a machine gun, but it could also be the culmination of a long game of telephone that started out with “he has a [picture of a] machine gun on his shirt,” or anything in between.

    • This is a fair point, and one that I think Anonyy was trying to make above though several people seem to have missed it. It’s not actually clear from the picture or the tweets or anything else that this man was actually carrying a large gun.

  • While they’re required to be licensed through DCRA, Special Police Officers are private security guards, not MPD. I see no reason why an off-duty officer ever needs to be walking down the street with that kind of firepower. I *really* don’t see why a Special Police Officer – on or off duty – would *ever* need that gun. And how can they waltz down the street with it?

    • Ugh, this totally looks like a Cop-Gun Fanboy who didn’t have the chops to make it onto an actual force. So he’s resorted to being a “Special Police Officer” at $14/hour to live out his Rambo dream.
      And is he wearing black dress shoes? Creepy AF.

      • Do you have any idea who he is? As several commenters have pointed out, some of these guys are off-duty LE officers. And I’d bet dollars to doughnuts the shoes are part of the uniform.

  • Was it ever confirmed that he had a gun over his shoulder? I honestly can not tell if its a gun or an umbrella?

  • prolly wouldn’t have been reported if the guy were white, let’s keep it 100 now

    • This would be true in a LOT of other scenarios… but I don’t think it’s true in this one.

      • justinbc

        Yeah, on a school campus or other government building people are extra edgy, regardless of race.

      • HaileUnlikely

        I am still unclear on whether he was carrying any gun, and if so, whether he just had his holstered service weapon or whether he was also carrying some sort of assault rifle. If he had no obvious badge or uniform showing and was carrying any weapon, I think a simple 911 call is warranted, and if somebody was walking around a college campus with an assault rifle and no uniform, I think a considerable freaking out is understandable. Again, though, I’m not clear on whether he was carrying or even appeared to be carrying any weapon at all, though (maybe he was, and it was obvious from the other side, and the person who called 911 saw the weapon – I don’t know. The fact that I don’t know is itself the point here.)

    • So the 2nd amendment is only OK for certain citizens? #GTFOH

    • If I saw a white guy walking around carrying an M16 and wearing an I (heart) (gun) t-shirt, I’d definitely be calling the cops.

  • Agreeing with Anonyy here, that wide shoulder strap looks like a backpack to me. People are getting way too jumpy nowadays, basically anyone that even mentions the word gun is a potential shooter.

    • Wearing body armor and a T-shirt that says “I [heart] assault rifles” is quite a few steps beyond mentioning the word “gun.”

      • I think the real issue here is what you’re getting at: this man is incredibly tone-deaf to what is going on in the world…OR…is so tied to his beliefs that he just does not give a s**t what you think about his appreciation for firearms. It’s a bad look either way, but not necessarily one that should end in his arrest or unemployment IMO.

    • This guy is probably reporting to work half way dressed with his vest already on and someone calls him in as being suspicious.

      • Exactly. Maybe the real a@@hat here is the person who called in an alert saying there was a guy walking around with an M-16 on him when they guy is clearly not carrying an assault rifle.

  • I don’t get the criticism. Why is this guy a jerk for wearing a t-shirt expressing his love for assault weapons? There are so many law enforcement officers in this jurisdiction that if I saw this guy I would have just assumed he was an off-duty law enforcement officer of some sort. There is no assault weapon on his person. It doesn’t even look like he is carrying a gun on his waist.

  • Why are we jumping on this guy’s jock for his shirt? I’m no 2A apologist, but I’m pretty sure 1A is still in effect in these parts.

    • yup. and i hate guns, but i can’t stand a double standard

    • I don’t think it’s the shirt itself that’s causing the alarm… more the shirt PLUS the body armor PLUS the utility belt that may or may not have a holstered gun PLUS whatever is slung over his shoulder.

    • 1st Amendment doesn’t preclude private citizens from calling in a potential issue with a guy wearing tactical gear and no police uniform. It’s also doesn’t preclude private citizens from thinking this guy – even if he is in fact LE – is a tone deaf moron.
      1st Amendment deals with government interference in speech. That’s it. I suggest you revisit your 7th grade history book.

    • Black guys have shot officers in Dallas and Baton Rouge so folks are edge. That is about what this amounted to. The normal shifted from, he could work in law enforcement to he may be a potential threat to law enforcement. Someone saw this guy and assumed the worst it seems, right or wrong.

  • ::eye roll::

    By that logic:

    White cops have shot unarmed black men in nearly every city of this country, for the past…oh century or so. So folks like him are on edge. The normal has shifted from, this is Officer Friendly here to protect and serve, to here’s Officer Murderer here to profile and sniff out. Someone will see this guy, and decide the worst, right or wrong. So the least we can give him — because his government won’t — is a fighting chance.

  • *snuff

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