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There can be no disputing the fact that driving a police car can be dangerous. And, like most jurisdictions, the District and its Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) offer their officers special training so that they may be better prepared for the difficult traffic situations that can present themselves as part of officers’ daily routines. This February, the MPD began to offer emergency-vehicle training at a federal facility in Cheltenham, Md., where Cmdr. Will Goodwin, head of the MPD’s Specialized Training Branch, says they “teach…how to operate a police car as an emergency vehicle.” Still—and in spite of a ban on high-speed pursuits—there are problems. Sometimes an unexpected barrel or a dislodged cell phone can be dangerous, as these verbatim excerpts of incident reports reveal.

Complaint No. 007-173

Jan. 16, 2005

Parking lot at 23rd and L Streets NW

Driver-1 states that while making a right turn in the parking lot of Special Operations Division (SOD) headquarters, that a yellow barrel rolled into his pathway causing D1 to swerve his vehicle striking vehicle 2 which was parked and unoccupied. Vehicle-1 sustained damage to the right rear door panel when it struck Vehicle-2’s left rear bumper causing minor damage (paint removed).

Complaint No. 019-418

Feb. 14, 2005

H Street, Massachusetts Avenue, and 3rd Street NW

V1 which was traveling in a southwest direction on H St. at Massachusetts Ave. NW, stopped at the traffic signal. For reasons unknown, V1 entered intersection against red signal and then collided with a residential structure located at 300 Mass. Ave. NW. As a result of these actions, D1 was extracted from vehicle, and after being [stabilized] was interviewed. D1 stated that he remembers stopping at signal light, but does not remember anything after that. Witnesses were interviewed, and although they could not observe the actions inside the vehicle, [corroborate] the facts as mentioned. D1 complained of soreness to body and loss of memory. V1 sustained heavy damage to front-end and driver’s side front and rear door. 300 Mass. Ave. sustained heavy structure damage.

Complaint No. 011-703

Jan. 27, 2005

Barnaby Road SE

On-the-scene-investigation revealed that Officer was responding in the area of the 4200 block of 7th St., SE where a “bail out” of a vehicle occurred with a possible man with a gun. While the officer was monitoring his radio, he heard that the two suspects from the “bail out” were fleeing on foot onto the 4300 Block of Barnaby Road, SE. As the officer pulled into the 4300 block of Barnaby Rd SE, he could see two black males running on foot from in between the buildings of 4373 and 4371 Barnaby Road, SE. Officer stopped on the street in front of 4373 Barnaby Rd SE [and exited] with the belief that he put V1 in the parked position. He then proceeded to pursue the two black males on foot. The officer stopped both of the black males and attempted to secure them for “officer safety.” During the stop, he heard a crashing noise. After the scene was secure, the officer observed V1 approximately 20 to 30 feet away from its original stopping point. The officer also observed [the cruiser’s] rear bumper against the front bumper of V3. There was also white paint along the left side of V2 consistent with a “paint transfer” from [the cruiser]. Upon inspection of the vehicle, the officer realized that [the cruiser] was in the neutral position and not the parked position.

The owners of V2 and V3 could not be located….The officer left MPD printed business cards on each vehicle’s windshield with a brief statement about the accident, CCN, and the address and phone number to the 7th District.

omplaint No. 031-496

March 12, 2005

16th and Corcoran Streets NW

D1 was stopped at the stop sign at 16th and Corcoran Sts. NW. D1 was in the 1600 block of Corcoran St. NW when north and south traffic on 16th St. NW came to a stop. D1 states that the occupants of the stopped vehicles signaled for him to proceed onto 16th St. NW. D1 then attempted to make a left hand turn onto 16th St. NW. D1 then struck [Pedestrian 2], who was in the crosswalk at 16th & Corcoran St[s]. NW. P2 was walking his dog which was also struck by D1. P2 was struck on the left leg. P2’s dog appeared not to be injured on the scene. P2 declined medical attention on the scene. D1’s vehicle did not sustain any new damage.

Complaint No. 043-088

April 6, 2005

Randolph Place and 3rd Street NE

On April 6, 2005, D1 stated he was traveling Westbound on the 300 Blk Randolph Place NE. D1 further states that his cell phone which was hanging on the visor had [fallen]. D1 states when he reached for his phone, he side-swiped a parked vehicle in the block. Both parties exchanged information on the scene with no visible injuries to either party.

Art accompanying story in the printed newspaper is not available in this archive: Illustration by Robert Ullman.