Friday, August 5, 2011

MPD enforcement priority: Dupont Circle jaywalking?

Snapped this photo this morning of an MPD officer writing jaywalking tickets to pedestrians crossing against the light at Dupont Circle and New Hampshire Ave. During the 45-or-so seconds I stood there, I witnessed the officer write no fewer than four tickets to unsuspecting jaywalkers. (Not to worry: this blogger escaped the wrath of the vigilant MPD officer by crossing legally.)



Periodically, it seems that MPD goes on a jaywalking ticket spree, posting officers at "high incident" intersections and generating some serious revenue for the city in the form of $20 tickets. But it does beg the question: is this part of a larger effort to clamp down on "minor" crimes like jaywalking throughout the city, or is this nothing more than a one-day spurt that will bring in a few thousand dollars to the city's coffers and annoy a number of pedestrians--most of whom will go right back to jaywalking on Monday morning, when the MPD officer is gone?

This isn't to completely excuse jaywalkers, but one does have to wonder what ends are being achieved by haphazardly ticketing a handful of pedestrians one or two days a year in a location where tens of thousands of people jaywalk every day? This episode also brought to mind the time several years ago when MPD officers started ticketing bicyclists who were riding the wrong way on New Hampshire Ave., just south of 16th Street. of course, we know how that ended.

17 comments:

Colin said...

I saw this too! Fortunately a truck drove by and the driver leaned out to tell people that tickets were being written. Then I saw some kid across the street getting written up.

Broads of the Beltway said...

They must have some quotas to fill and see this as a quick way to rack up a few issued tickets. Still, what dicks. If jaywalking were any lower on the totem pole of pressing crimes police should curtail, it would be underground.

Criminal said...

Cool. They should write some tickets for motorists exceeding the speed limit (by at last 1 mile per hour). That would also generate revenue and keep the police busy while real criminals can continue their work unharrassed. Then move on to cyclists running red lights at empty intersections. So many great ideas for law enforcement.

Shawn said...

I'd prefer to see them spend their time ticketing drivers running red lights, making illegal turns, and parking in the bike lane, rather than bothering pedestrians

Kevin said...

OK, I'll be the contrarian.

I jaywalk -- all the time -- but it IS illegal and pedestrians do get hit by cars and trucks. If occasional, well-publicized ticket-writing sprees in "high incident" areas get some of us (like me) to pay more attention and be safer is that so bad?

Mr. 14th & You said...

Kevin, I don't really disagree with you. And if this were part of some larger campaign on the part of MPD to educate pedestrians about the hazards of jaywalking, I might feel differently. But these Random Acts of Enforcement just don't seem like part of any coherent strategy. Even allowing for the fact that jaywalkign is illegal and (can be) dangerous, it's still on the lowest rung of the ladder in terms of problems afflicting the city. I myself would rather see a concerted effort to pull over cabs who make illegal u-turns in the middle of streets, cars who block intersections or make illegal turns, or bicyclists who race haphazardly through traffic.

jen said...

Yep. That's me in the black shirt. Totally taught the thirty other people a lesson as they jaywalked around us while I was waiting for the ticket, and taught me a lesson as I jaywalked across the other half of the circle after getting a ticket. It also clearly taught the motorist who blow the red lights, buses who block the crosswalk, and all the cyclists who don't obey traffic rules a lesson too. Thank you so much DC police.

Anonymous said...

Wow, after seeing this and knowing that MPD occasionally go on jaywalking ticket writing sprees- I'm even more surprised at what I saw yesterday. I was driving up 6th St, and a woman was jaywalking from the Verizon Center and stopped right in the middle of the road while traffic was coming. There was a police vehicle in front of me. Not only did he not stop and give her a ticket and/or warning, he put his lights on to stop traffic so she could continue to cross the street.

Bilsko said...

You don't have to go back " several years ago" to see instances of MPD ticketing cyclists for running stop-signs.

I see it with some frequency (once every couple of months) down on Water St / K. St. by the Georgetown Cinema. An MPD officer will just stand on one of the corners and give out tickets to all the cyclists coming off the CCT.

Lance said...

@Mr. 14th and You, "And if this were part of some larger campaign on the part of MPD to educate pedestrians about the hazards of jaywalking, I might feel differently. But these Random Acts of Enforcement just don't seem like part of any coherent strategy."

Well said. We constantly hear how understaffed our police force is, yet 'shows' like this are rampant as are the arrival of every cop within a 5 mile radius for even minor enforcement actions. I once witnessed something like 5 police cars and 2 fire trucks pull up in response to a woman who'd had her hand bag stolen from her ... and retrieved by good Samaritans who'd witnessed the event from a window and ran after the thief and tackled him. The 5 police cars and 2 fire trucks showed up some 15 minutes later. If the company I worked for allowed such inefficiencies, it would be bancrupt. We need a top down coordinated effort to get the waste out and do more with less. If it means hiring people with managerial experience vs. promoting from within the ranks, than that's what we need to do. Either way, this random ticketing is really symptomatic of a disfunctional organization. Thanks for pointing out this incident. Maybe our councilmembers will decide to try to do something about this ... and I don't mean just throwing money at it.

Eileen said...

It's hard to tell from the picture: were these tickets given to people who started crossing legally and then were supposed to stop on the island and wait for the other half of the signal to change?

Anonymous said...

Sure there are other crimes going on in the city but that doesn't mean mpd should not enforce, aggressively at times, jaywalking laws. It causes traffic backups, road rage, and probably encourages pedestrians to zone out and not pay attention to where they are walking. Arguing that the cops should only investigate murders until there are zero homicides, and then move on to other crimes is dumb and ignores the fact that there are different types of police officers...

Also have any of you driven through dupont? Traffic is bad enough without having to deal with pedestrians that cross against the light and glare at you if you cut them off or (gasp) honk at them.

Mr. 14th & You said...

Anon, I don't think anyone is suggesting that the police should focus only on homicides. My chief complaint is that there is no apparent greater purpose to this activity, and it smacks as little more than a revenue generator for the city. A few comments above, one of the individuals ticketed by the MPD officer admitted to jaywalking when she got to the other side of the Circle. I would hardly call the MPD officer's presence a deterrant.

I simply fail to see the point of stationing one officer at one corner of the intersection a couple of times a year to randomly hand out citations, when tens of thousands of people jaywalk around the Circle on a daily basis. MPD shouldn't necessarily focus solely on homicides, but surely they can find a better use for department resources than this?

DCUnionGuy said...

On one hand, I get why people are pissed. There are better priorities. On the other hand it feels like a complete rationalization. You broke the law, pay the ticket and quit whining. I'll be pissed (and I'll whine about it) if I get one, but I also understand it's my fault.

As to people illegally crossing while an officer is writing a single ticket, that's wrong. The cop should have told all those people to form a line on the sidewalk and he should have ticketed each and every one of them.

DCUnionGuy said...

One more thought: Some jaywalking contributes to DC traffic problems. Almost daily I see west bound peds crossing 16th St at U against the turn arrow. Great, you couldn't wait 20secs and now U St is slightly more backed up, cars are now stuck in the intersection etc. If this happens every cycle of the light.....

Anonymous said...

This is absurd. I have a police scanner app on my phone that I listen to quite often for entertainment, and the one thing I have learned is that SE and NE cops definitely earn their stripes while NW cops have almost nothing to do. While SE cops are literally calling in dead bodies, NW cops are calling in rowdy kids in Adams Morgan. It's pathetic, and blatant stunts like this are enraging. I have plenty of ideas of how DCPD's time can be better spent.

Malnurtured Snay said...

There's a cop I see frequently in Woodley Park. Same guy. And often, during rush hour, he'll head into the crosswalk (at 24th St across Connecticut) to make sure vehicles are yielding the crosswalk to pedestrians, as often, they'll get caught in the street during the light and block the crosswalk. I remember once, not long ago, a pedestrian started crossing without the right of way, and he was across the street with this sort of "are you fucking kidding me?" look on his face, and wrote the guy a ticket on the spot. I do jaywalk, but I'm smart enough never to do it in front of the police, and I always look both ways - but I know if I'm jaywalking and I get hit by a car, it's my fault. Bottom line: if you're not willing to risk being hit by a car, or pay a fine, don't jaywalk.