Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Jaywalking in DC

A couple of weeks ago I almost received a ticket for walking across the street in Dupont Circle against a red light. I was reluctant to post about the incident, mainly out of a fear that the DC Police regularly check blogs to find jaywalking confessions. That fear has now subsided after I saw three cops today cross the very same street (Q and Connecticut) against a red light. And they weren't in hot pursuit of anyone, either.

So back to the original incident. I get to the corner and notice tons of people on either side not crossing, despite the fact that there were no cars in sight. "Stupid tourists," I think. "Don't know how to cross a street." So I proceed to make my way over, when halfway across I notice a cop standing on the corner. We make eye-contact.

"Please come here, sir," she says.

I walk towards her, head down like a school kid who knows he's about to get detention.

"Do you know it is a ticketable offense in the District of Columbia to jaywalk?" she says.

"No ma'am." (That's a lie.)

"Well it is. And I could write you up but I will let you off with a warning this time."

"Thank you ma'am." And then (I was really pushing the limit here):"You know, I'm really hungry and it's lunchtime. I was just trying to get to -"

"It's better to be hungry than hit by a car," she cuts in.

"You're right," I respond. And I walk away, half-hoping she had given me a ticket because that would be a great story to tell the grandkids.

Anyhow, I've been paranoid as hell crossing Q and Connecticut ever since. That is until today, when I see these three cops go lollygagging across the same street without a care in the world. So much for setting a good example...


lacochran said...

You raise an interesting question... when are cops allowed to be "above" the law? I certainly see them speeding all the time when it doesn't appear that they are in hot pursuit. Hmmm. Congrats on ducking the ticket.

Shaun said...

I don't think DC Police will give tickets for j-walking. Do you know how many times this happens in a day in the Metro area? The courts would be filled to max with just people fighting j-walking tickets

Empshel said...

Oh, they'll give them. I've got one and I know others who have, as well. I don't think there's much concern that people are going to take off work or school en masse to go to the courthouse and fight a $10 ticket.

J.M. Tewkesbury said...

Cops are the worst example of law-abiding behavior out there. I watched one, on a cell phone, stop at a red light and then go through it like it was a mere suggestion or a stop sign. I was stunned.

When are the police in this town (and elsewhere) going to realize we're looking to them to model lawful behavior as much as we're expecting ourselves and those around us to behave properly?

Bleh. Glad you avoided a ticket.

nutmeg96 said...

Wow. I guess they've solved all the violent crime in DC and now have time to focus on the urban cancer that is the jaywalker. :P

Anonymous said...

I have noticed the police's new/renewed) focus on j-walking and drivers talking on hand-held cell phones. It almost seems like there is a conscious effort by the police department to put to equally police the perceived haves and have-nots. I don't have any hard data to back this up, just what I have observed and experienced.

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