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Council member: Police response too slow after man pulled gun on her

Council member Yvette Alexander (D-Ward 7) is raising concerns about what she sees as the poor response of the Metropolitan Police Department after a man pulled a gun on her Wednesday afternoon as she tried to help a MetroAccess driver who was being robbed.

Alexander was leaving home and was in the 3400 block of Highwood when she saw two men standing over the driver laying facedown on the sidewalk. The driver's car was parked. "I just figured they were trying to help him," she said, adding that other cars had passed.

She rolled down her window: "Do you need some help? What's going on?"

Alexander drove and dialed 911 (listen to a recording of her call, as well as the MetroAccess driver's call).

One man got in front of her SUV while the other approached her passenger's side. "The one on the passenger's side pulled out a gun. He said, 'Keep it moving.'"

She then circled back: the men were gone and the MetroAccess driver had gotten up. "I was just so glad he was okay," she said.

But Alexander grew upset by the absence of responders. "We're both still there. No police. No ambulance. No nothing," she said.

A firetruck then arrived, and a police officer came afterward. She said she has learned that the police were responding to "an unconscious individual" though she told the 911 dispatcher that she was a council member and a gun was involved.

"Why was a firetruck there before the police?" she asked.

Alexander said she has learned that her neighbor also stopped and had a gun pulled on her. The neighbor, who did not have a cell phone, drove around the neighborhood looking for a patrol officer.

The council member, who once had her purse stolen from her car while at a gas station, said she was reluctant to publicize the incident.

"You hear about cabs not wanting to come to Southeast. Now, MetroAccess is thinking the same thing. Do we want to risk our drivers' safety? Oftentimes, they get out to help people get to their doors because they're disabled," Alexander said.

Alexander said she has consulted Council member Phil Mendelson (D-At Large), chairman of the Committee on Public Safety and the Judiciary. She said he may hold a hearing on emergency response.

-- Nikita Stewart

By Anne Bartlett  |  January 25, 2010; 9:44 AM ET
Categories:  City Life , Crime and Public Safety , D.C. Council , Nikita Stewart  
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I feel for you Council Member Alexander. Welcome to The District. We have police officers who shoot little boys in the back over mini bikes, police officers who participate in underscover robberies that end fataly, and my favorite---police officers who will pull a gun on you if you hit their Hummer with a snowball...

...BUT we dont have police offiers who will come to your aid when someone pulls a gun on you while you are witnessing a robbery...and you are a council member. Wonder what type of response all us normal citizens will get if we call 911?

Its a shame that 20 years after Public Enemy drops "911 is a joke" that 911 is still a joke in 2010...who woulda thought?

But no police were able to assistthe police were out there harassing me

Posted by: fedupwithbs | January 25, 2010 10:19 AM | Report abuse

Contacting Mendelson? He's the PROBLEM!

Posted by: 123cartoon | January 25, 2010 10:23 AM | Report abuse

It seems to me that she's either always at the wrong place at the wrong time or lives in a pretty bad neighborhood.

And did she think by saying that she's a council member that the police would come quicker?

I guess if I'm getting robbed or I'm witnessing someone getting rob, I'll be sure to the the dispatcher that I'm Marion Berry....

Posted by: ENJOYA | January 25, 2010 10:30 AM | Report abuse

This is more the norm than the exception. I have to admit however, that in my neighborhood in Ward 6 we have a TERRIFIC community policing division. I know almost all of my officers in my patrol service area (PSA), if I don't know them by name I at least know them by face and vice-versa. I stayed involved in my community and attend the PSA meetings. Asst. Chief Groomes is a great resource as well. She responds "immediately" from her blackberry if you send her an email and I mean "immediately"! I don't know what Councilmember Alexander experienced or why, but if she was in Ward 8 I feel for her because 7D under the direction of Commander Maupin is HORRIFIC, they are the worst police contingent in the city. They treat all residents like criminals even if you are the victim and they never respond in a timely manner, it seems as if they are only available to pickup the collateral damage...however, they can be involved in robberies where someone dies and they can take drugs and cash from dealers and never turn it in, and nothing is ever done. We have tried to report them for the abuses they are the ones taking the report and Internal Affairs in DCMPD is a JOKE so nothing is ever done.

Posted by: lacairaine | January 25, 2010 10:44 AM | Report abuse

Live and/or work in DC at your own peril.

Posted by: checkered1 | January 25, 2010 10:53 AM | Report abuse

I've lived in DC for decades and had the occasion to call the police twice, both in the past ~8 years.

There was a car there in less than 3 minutes both times and I didn't have to brag that I was a council member.

Then again...I live in Ward 3 :)

She goes on and on about how long it took the police to get there but this article didn't say the response time.

Posted by: Nosh1 | January 25, 2010 11:11 AM | Report abuse

Why did she feel that it was necessary to let the 911 operator know that she was a Council member? Aren't ordinary citizens entitled to a quick response when they report a gun incident? I sure that people in her Ward have complained about police response times, but it doesn't seem like she's too concerned unless it involves her.

Sad to say, but I avoid Southeast DC like the plague.

Posted by: loved1 | January 25, 2010 11:20 AM | Report abuse

Better headline: Council member slow to response to DC crime problem, even after man pulled gun on her.

And I agree, why did she identify herself to 911 as a Council member? Does she believe she is entitled to different emergency services? How often does she identify herself as a Council member while going about her private life?

Posted by: justanotherguy | January 25, 2010 11:24 AM | Report abuse

In the unlikely event these predators are caught, smart money says they are both juveniles under the current "supervision" of the DC Department of Youth Rehabilitative Services (DYRS)? Perhaps Council member Alexander should focus some of her efforts in that direction?

Posted by: RealityCheckerInEffect | January 25, 2010 11:37 AM | Report abuse

Wait you mean she called the police and nobody showed up right away? Imagine that! Welcome to our world! I was a detective in northern virginia and often had to go into the district to work cases, i've had numerous run-ins with thugs in Southeast. Need to bulldoze that place, or start busting some caps on those hoodlums. seems to be the only language they understand, and i'd gladly oblige!

Posted by: djlojak | January 25, 2010 12:14 PM | Report abuse

In general a slow response is a sign that the police are occupied elsewhere, which is a sign that we don't have enough officers. Or, its a sign that the 911 dispatcher was an idiot, which is frequently the case. Both are the responsibility of Phil Mendelson, who is generally a criminals best friend in DC.

Posted by: mendelsonmustgo | January 25, 2010 12:28 PM | Report abuse

When does a report of a gun and a man face down on the pavement not warrant a code one response? If there weren’t any officers available, why didn’t they go city wide?

I don’t have a problem with her noting she is a council member; one would think that would incent a response... apparently not LOL

These “kids” scarves are not merely a fashion statement, but are synonymous with the urban “terror” that they inflict.

Posted by: joebananas1 | January 25, 2010 12:36 PM | Report abuse

Why wouldn't the Councilmember identify herself? She is an elected official serving the Ward she resides in. And it is a ghetto (look up ghetto in the dictionary) where she lives. However, it is so wonderful, white folks are moving in in droves. They now know a large part of
SE is a well kept secret. Don't knock it until you try it or visit it for that matter.
Yes, she is aware of the concerns her constituents have logged regarding MPD's response time and has been working deligently with the Commander of 6D not 7D. to resolve the problem. She knows the majority of the officers by name and what their specific duties are as well as their assigned shifts. They are both to be commended for their efforts to fight crime in Ward 7 and 6D. 6D has been given the distinction of having the lowest crime rate in the city for the year 2009 (do the research).

Stop the animosity and racial talk and come together as concern citizens.

Posted by: shank2sb | January 25, 2010 12:48 PM | Report abuse

I wonder how many police officers were nearby sleeping in their cars while "monitoring" speed cameras.

Posted by: ceefer66 | January 25, 2010 12:54 PM | Report abuse

Why is it only important when you are a councilman/woman. This has been on-going for years for ordinary citizens.

Posted by: mochamist2 | January 25, 2010 1:06 PM | Report abuse

shank2sb - I question why she identified herself as a Council member because in my mind, it appears that she expected special treatment, and is now upset that she didn't get it. 911 operators are rarely concerned with the caller's occupation unless it is relevant. The fact that she is on Council has absolutely nothing to do with the situation she was trying to relay to 911. When she orders a pizza, does she mention her job? How about when she goes to the movies? "$14?, did I mention I'm a Council member?"

Posted by: justanotherguy | January 25, 2010 2:02 PM | Report abuse

What a bunch of wankers... Cut the Councilwoman some slack. She stopped - out of concern for the driver - put her self at risk, reported the problem and then doubled back to check on things. That's a lot more - I suspect - than most of these commenters would have done. If you hold a position of authority in your community, there is no shame in mentioning that. Mentioning that she is a Councilwoman is fair warning - it says to the 911 dispatcher we all work for the District - I got your number, so do a good job.

You all need to lighten up

Posted by: tonyb1 | January 25, 2010 2:19 PM | Report abuse

Doesn't sound like any of you watch the Council meetings. There was a hearing recently where teenagers from a charter school testified about the lack of police response to their calls as well. She commended them for taking time to testify and participate in the civic process. Other than complaining and/or ridiculing the elected officials, when was the last time you participated in the DC government? And if you actually live in MD or VA, why are you even adding your negative comments to the debate. Your states have their own own problem.

And, just FYI, the fire department beats the police department to every emergency.

Posted by: Carole5520 | January 25, 2010 2:59 PM | Report abuse

Nothing good can be said of South East. There are just too many criminal thugs there. The police there are no better than thugs. It's an awful situation.

Posted by: jabreal00 | January 25, 2010 3:19 PM | Report abuse

Carole5520 - I'm adding my comments because I'm allowed to. To quote the WaPo language under the comments section: "We encourage users to analyze, comment on and even challenge's articles, blogs, reviews and multimedia features." I wasn't aware that you had to reside in DC to have an opinion regarding what happens in DC. I work here everyday, I contribute to the local DC economy, and I would rely on DC emergency services if I needed them. I also comment on national events and other stories that are outside of the county in which I reside. The last time I participated in DC government was last Friday - does that qualify me to have an opinion? As a government employee, I'm accutely aware that there are innapropriate times to "mention" your profession.
I agree with one point, I applaud Council member Alexander for getting involved.

Posted by: justanotherguy | January 25, 2010 3:53 PM | Report abuse

Justanotherguy, what is there to question? The Councilwomen could have called the Commander of 6D directly, but she didn't. She acted as a regular citizen by dialing 911 hoping to get a quick response for a citizen in need of immediate assistance.

Do you think the Mayor would have called for assistance from MPD and said this is Adrien Fenty, of course not. He would have said this is Mayor Fenty. Put your head on straight and think. It became job related after realizing a crime was being committed. This happened in her Ward. She was witness to a crime and could have lost her life for it while thinking she was being a good Samaritan.

It proves, an investigation is needed regarding response time for MPD officers. The councilwomen is on the Judiciary Committee. Things do have a way of happening for a reason. Let's wait for results before we rush to criticize a person's actions.

Every officer in the sixth district knows who she is and her name. So what is you point or maybe problem about YVETTE ALEXANDER doing her job? Again she is an elected official relaying a message of urgency to people who are getting paid to protect us, dispatchers included.

Be a concerned citizen and comment when she drives by crimes in progress and doesn't report them.

Posted by: shank2sb | January 25, 2010 4:18 PM | Report abuse

Yvette Alexander is a cool and Andy Fenty is a fooool. The councillady was doing a good deed, the thugs were about thier creed.
The sneaky deceiving police in DC are mostly nasty,dirty,filthy,stinky and that is just in the moral sense.
Have to agree with posters about 7D coppers they are the worst criminals with a badge and a gun and you better be real careful what you report or say to them,shhhhh they are listening. Naw,second thought, them 7D police thugs are sleep.

Posted by: foxxmacpryor | January 25, 2010 4:49 PM | Report abuse

I hope the councilmenber learned a valuable lesson. That her actions and the actions of her colleagues on the Council have consequences. Everytime they vote to eliminate manditory minimums, pass laws restricting the ability of the police to deal effectively with criminals and reduce the size of our police department, and cut other portions of the public safety budget. It becomes easier for criminals to get away after victimizing our citizens.

Posted by: Jet_Mech | January 25, 2010 4:49 PM | Report abuse

Shank2sb - While I understand she was doing a good deed for stopping and making the call, I am simply raising the issue that she wasn't acting entirely as a normal citizen. Twice during the call she identifies herself as a Council member and also advises she is inclined to call the Commander. A "normal citizen" doesn't tell 911 what they do for a living unless it is relevant to the call. If her objective was to get police and rescue to the scene as fast as possible, her job is irrelevant UNLESS she is effectively saying that a Council member should get a better response than a regular citizen. Think of it this way, would you be suprised if a person called 911 and said "I'm a plumber and I just witnessed a robbery"?

Posted by: justanotherguy | January 25, 2010 5:25 PM | Report abuse

Justanotherguy, sorry you still don't undersatand. I hope you are never found laying face down with a gun held to you and she drives by. I guess you would rather she call for help and say this is Yvette.

By-the-way, how much money are you costing the government by blogging all day?

God bless you and your thinking.

Posted by: shank2sb | January 25, 2010 6:11 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: mlhkfh | January 25, 2010 7:35 PM | Report abuse

Simple get rid of Mayor Fenty and the so called Police chief

Posted by: mlhkfh | January 25, 2010 7:36 PM | Report abuse

Hi Yvette,
I live in your ward (fairfax village) and you need to get a gun permit and carry your own heat. A gun law allowing law abiding citizens to strap a holstered
pistole outside the home is needed now more than ever in DC. Luck was on your side this time--dont count on it again.

Posted by: bill121 | January 25, 2010 10:20 PM | Report abuse

It is unbelievable listening to the 911 call. The caller, forget it was council person, reported seen a person laying on the ground and two people standing over him with a weapon. Just that infomation alone should have resulted in a priority one response but the 911 person almost seem to be take an after action report. He could have dispatched a car, continue to gather further infomation from the caller and passed it on the responding police car.

Posted by: Jimof1913 | January 25, 2010 11:14 PM | Report abuse

Poor police response time is not Councilmember Alexander nor Councilmember Mendelson's fault. It is fenty-stooge janice quintana's fault as Director of the Office of Unified Communications (an oxymoron if there ever was one). For three years Councilmember Mendelson has tirelessly conducted oversight hearings on this ineffective government agency. Countless OUC employees have testified before the Council detailing intimidation and retribution as quintana's standard operating procedure as Director. Rake quintana over the coals Phil! Her ineffective leadership and stonewalling must be stopped. One more example of the corrosive effect fenty-nickles have had on the citizens of the District

Posted by: bob_dylan_rocks | January 25, 2010 11:16 PM | Report abuse

shank2sb - If I ever need emergency services, I hope whoever is there calls the police and I really hope that the response is not decided by the occupation of the caller.

Regarding how much money I am costing the government by blogging all day, I get paid for 9-5 day. I arrive everyday around 6:30 and leave after 5:30 (last night after 7 pm). Not counting my 30 minute lunch that I ate at my desk, yesterday was a 12 hour day for 8 hours pay. If I spent 30 minutes posting, that's still 3.5 hours of work that I did for no pay. Do you think I'm abusing the system?

Posted by: justanotherguy | January 26, 2010 8:38 AM | Report abuse

justanotherguy, the answer to your question is yes. You posted 4 times yesterday at the following times:
11:24 am
2:05 pm
3:53 pm
5:25 pm

Now if you include the time it took you to read, blog and respond to my posts and others, again the answer is yes.

I am retired and have the time to read and blog. The thirty-three years plus that I gave to the DC Government, I never had the luxury of reading a newspaper, blog or anything else for that matter.

It's waste even though all I can do is take your word for the time you accounted for during your workday yesterday.

I hope you cleaned the crumbs up from your desk and didn't spill anything on your government issued computer.

Posted by: shank2sb | January 26, 2010 7:39 PM | Report abuse

oh gee poor council member alexander. calling mendelson? HHAHAH ROFLMA HAHHA she bettah wake up and smell the coffee. aint politics grand?

Posted by: billthrice | January 30, 2010 11:53 PM | Report abuse

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