A reader sends a note they sent to MPD:
Today, while walking on 11th street between Harvard and Columbia Road with my 12 week old daughter, a man crept out from behind a tree and began masturbating while looking at us. Keep in mind this is a block from the Harriet Tubman playground. I quickly walked away (and did not confront him due to the fact that I was strolling my infant) and about 15 seconds later, while still having him in sight, I called 911. The dispatcher was great and asked all the right questions (what happened, description, etc.). As I was talking to her the man began walking, and then running, south on 11th and then headed east on Harvard. He was wearing a light business shirt (I think light blue or white…and I think it was collared). And he was wearing a bright red backpack. I left my name and number with the dispatcher. After hanging around for 5-10 more minutes it seemed as though there was no police response, which is more than a little disturbing.
This same thing happened to me when first moving to the Columbia Heights neighborhood in 2008 (I actually think it may be the same clean-cut looking young man). Again, police did not respond to the scene. Moreover, in 2006 when I was a law firm summer associate living on Capitol Hill, a man pulled up in a truck to ask for directions. After asking for several direction clarifications I noticed he was masturbating. I promptly called the police because I had his license plate number! A few hours later the police responded to my home and didn’t even take notes, but instead said obnoxious things such as “I suppose you are going to tell me he is black” and “Why did it take you so long to notice what he was doing.” Again, at that time I had the license plate number, the police told me that the truck matched a description from other similar complaints in the neighborhood, and I was never contacted again. Nor was I given the opportunity to file a police report.
Overall, I am absolutely appalled by the flippant attitude the DC police seem to have toward men that expose themselves and/or masturbate publicly. It is threatening behavior and no more innocuous than actually grabbing a victim. Moreover, that kind of behavior often leads to physical assaults. For example, just this week in NYC’s Central Park, a man who had previously been seen masturbating in the area brutally raped and beat a woman that viewed him. See here. I worry it is going to take a situation like that to get the Department to take such threats seriously.
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