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Water skips and spills out of the back of the Dewey Beach Police paddy wagon. Inside, a crouched seasonal patrolman uses a hose to blast quarter-sized drops of blood off the treaded steel floor. I ask him what happened.
“Had a guy, gotta clean it up,” he shouts over the hose.
Inside the station, a shortsleeved paramedic tells Lt. Billy Hocker that he didn’t glue the wound shut, since it’s on the elbow and it would just rip open again. On the holding cell monitor, a man sits with his hands cuffed behind his back, one arm bandaged from bicep to forearm.
I ask Hocker what he’s in for.
“This guy?” Hocker says. “Urinating in Route 1. Oh, and propositioning a 13 and 17-year-old.”
Seasonal Patrolman Michael McDowell said the man, a Smyrna, Del. resident in his 30s, ambled off the sidewalk near New Orleans Street and Route 1 and started peeing into the highway. Soon thereafter, a vacationing mother said he slurred a few lewd comments towards her daughters, aged 13 and 17. By the time McDowell caught up to him, he was getting kicked out of The Starboard.
When he resisted handcuffs, McDowell took him down. It was his squirming, McDowell said, that cut up his arm.
“This is the same guy who tried to spit in my face in January,” Hocker said. A series of low thuds snapped the officers’ heads to the holding cell door.
“Great,” McDowell muttered. “Now he’s headbutting the door.”
“I got it,” Hocker said.
In the space between Hocker’s barrel-shaped upper body and the door, I see the man’s face, bleary-eyed from an early hangover and marked by a shining red cut under the left eye. McDowell says that’s where he hit the sidewalk, and recited the takedown again, this time footnoting the play-by-play with his legal authority for slamming the guy. His eyes flick to mine to make sure I understand. He’s nervous.
When Hocker walks by, McDowell starts again, from the beginning. Hocker cuts him off with a shoulder-slap.
“Don’t worry,” he reassures the seasonal. “You did good.”
Eventually, the guy’s friend, a bulldoggish Special Operations Response Team (SORT) officer, shows up to take him home. The SORT officer thanked the Dewey cops – the guy in the cell is his best friend, you see, and he’s been having some problems, some real issues. The Dewey cops lower their heads and nod. It’s Dewey Beach. Who doesn’t have issues?