Dear PoP – Unresponsive 911 To Incident at 13th and T St, NW

Photo by PoPville flickr user Mr. T in DC

“Dear PoP,

I’m writing because I’m incredibly concerned about the responsiveness of 911 dispatchers in my neighborhood after an incident Saturday afternoon on 13th Street, NW, between S and T. I was packing some boxes at home when I heard a loud crashing sound from the street and looked out my window to see several cars stopped in the middle of the road. Thinking it was a minor traffic accident, I went back to packing until I heard loud shouting and screaming coming from outside the window. I looked out to see that the situation had quickly gotten out of control, with a young woman screaming in the face of another driver and a small group of men forming around them. Someone was tossing things from another’s car and realizing that this was looking to turn into a fistfight at any minute, I called 911 to report the incident.

I was told by the dispatcher that she had already taken another call from someone else about situation and that I should tell her when punches are thrown so she could make note of it once the police showed up. Thinking this was an outrageous response, I explained to the dispatcher that it was a volatile situation and was deteriorating pretty fast – things could easily have gotten violent (not to mention these cars were parked in the middle of 13th Street and could cause more accidents).

Still after over a half hour, no police car has shown up and those involved are hashing it out. The situation was left to devolve because of a lack of responsiveness from the 911 dispatcher and the unresponsiveness of the police. Following the violent attack on two residents in the alley behind 13th Street a few months ago, my understanding was that the police were going to be more active in patrolling this area and had promised to become more responsive.

Since last summer, there have been several fights and assaults in front of the Whitelaw Hotel apartments and other low-income housing that borders our street. It’s very disconcerting and a shame to think that police have already lost interest in keeping this neighborhood safe. I’d be interested to know whether other readers of yours have had a similar experience with unresponsive 911 dispatchers.”

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