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You never know what you’re going to encounter walking between Columbia Heights and Adams Morgan. Oh, I’ve seen tons of fun stuff even in the last few months: five men, backs turned, hands up against a wall, surrounded by cops. A drunk man sprawled on the sidewalk next to two police men. An entire section of Columbia Rd blocked off by flashing police cars. (I couldn’t get close enough to see what was going on.)

Never a dull moment.

But, as I was walking down Columbia Rd on Friday night around 11 p.m., I encountered something involving police that I’ve never actually witnessed before. A cop in a patrol car was just chilling peacefully, and next to him, there was a huge, almost blinding, stand-alone light illuminating nearly half a block of the street.

There were one or two other pedestrians strolling down the street, the cop in the patrol car, and the light. But, no perps, and no action. It was comforting and a bit eerie, perhaps eerily comforting, I would say. The entire scene left me in a questioning state. But, my initial impression was that (a) it would suck to be a nearby resident trying to get to sleep with that light streaming in your window! And, (b), that the cop and the light were just there for the public’s general safety—a good idea, in my opinion.

I inquired about this theory about 40 minutes ago. Unfortunately, it seems that I probably hypothesized incorrectly. MPD spokesperson Traci L. Hughes says that the lights are frequently used for cop checkpoints to stop drunk drivers. Other than that, they may have some other uses. But Hughes had never heard of this one.

Too bad.