A police officer recently knocked on my door to inform me that someone had broken into a neighbor’s car and taken some money the night before. He asked me whether I had noticed anything unusual or suspicious. I told him no, but proceeded to rattle off other recent incidents: aggressive solicitation at a neighbor’s house on Brandywine Street, a robbery in a home on 29th street, another incident of money stolen from a workman’s car on Linnean, and furniture rearranged on a neighbor’s property. He told me that neighbors should report all these incidents – even suspicious activity – to the police.
Take, for example, an abandoned car. Last Friday, I saw this one on Chesapeake, in front of the Capital Memorial Church.
It was still there on Monday. I took photos and sent them to Commander Melvin Gresham at the Second District, and reported it to 311. But should I have called 911 instead?
This informational site on DC’s 911 system lists obvious reasons for dialing this emergency number: Any crime in progress or where the offender is still on the scene (or has just left the scene); all fires and medical emergencies; home and business intruders; vehicle crashes involving personal injury, major property damage or traffic tie-ups; and the sighting of a wanted criminal.
But it does not answer the question about what to do about an incident that may have occurred several hours or even days ago, or suspicious behavior. I called the MPD Second District and spoke to Captain David Sledge. He told me that neighbors should call 911 for incidents that have already occurred and for suspicious behavior or activity. The abandoned car would seem to qualify.
Capt. Sledge also sent me this list of hotlines, tip lines and important numbers. You can also file a police report online for:
Let’s help the police make our community more secure. Please report criminal activity and suspicious behavior.