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Thread: A strange incident

  1. #1
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    Question A strange incident

    Hi all. First time poster here. I had a weird situation on my commute a couple of months ago and I thought It would be good to get opinions from the bike community.

    On a weekday morning I was headed south on 11th Street NW, in the bike lane, toward downtown. Right around 11th and M a beige car was parked in the bike lane. Engine off, no hazard lights. Normally I would just go around and keep my exasperation to myself, but since there was so much traffic that day I was essentially trapped behind this car. Cars whizzing by my left and parked cars on the right. Since I was just stuck sitting there I tapped on the car's trunk to let the driver know they were blocking the lane. About one nanosecond after that, a police light went on in the rear window (ugh) and a large, angry man stormed out of the car and started berating me mercilessly for a minute before informing me that, yes, he was a police officer doing some sort of undercover task. I was called every name in the book, heard every four-letter word you can imagine, and was told I might be thrown in jail for damaging government property. I of course apologized profusely with no argument. (I don't mess with the law) After another minute of taking my verbal beatdown, I sheepishly pedaled on to work, a little shaken up and quite embarrassed actually. I mean, the whole block was watching and I'm sure the guy blew his cover in the process.

    Later, when I was able to calm down, I thought about what had happened and about a few things: What should I have done there? / How was I supposed to know who was in that car? / The officer handled that in the most inflammatory way possible / Are they allowed to park in the bike lanes? / I'm damaging government property?

    Like I said, I'd like your opinions on this. I can't imagine it happening again but who knows.

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    sounds like an episode of a police drama.

    There are probably a million things a citizen could do that might accidentally blow LE's cover. No way you could have known the guy was undercover. I think its up to the guys planning the undercover up to plan for contingencies - such planning might indicate that parking in the bike lane is not a good way to stay under cover. But the cop himself was, naturally upset, and his reaction was quite human.

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    Quote Originally Posted by G_bikeDC View Post
    a large, angry man stormed out of the car and started berating me mercilessly for a minute before informing me that, yes, he was a police officer doing some sort of undercover task.
    The way not to blow your cover is to stay calm and act like a civilian, not scream about your cover in public. Engaging the guy at all, by tapping on the hood or otherwise, shouldn't be some game-breaker for his work, whatever it is. Ultimately, you're not responsible for his cover, he is.

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    You shouldn't have tapped the trunk so hard.

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    His reaction was, from his own point of view, very counterproductive. Wonder what was really going on with him?

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    To me, it sounds like he was abusing his position, and deserved to be reported to MPD. If he was, in fact, undercover, he could have easily played dumb (like so many other drivers who park in bike lanes) and just told you to go around.

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    Did he show you his badge? If not, you don't really know if he was a LEO. Regardless, he sounds like a asshat.

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    Just be glad you didn't end up spending the night at 1901 D Street SE.

  11. #9
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    TwoWheelsDC is online now I really need to log off the internet and go for a ride.
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    Quote Originally Posted by G_bikeDC View Post
    informing me that, yes, he was a police officer doing some sort of undercover task.
    #youredoingitwrong

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    mstone is offline I really need to log off the internet and go for a ride.
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    If you were in a position to challenge him, you should have asked to see his badge and filed a complaint. A gopro would probably be a prerequisite. He assumed (correctly) that you'd back down so it was an easy way to get rid of you. Only if we hold people in authority accountable for their behavior will they have any incentive to moderate their behavior.

    If you weren't in a position to take the risk of challenging him, you did the right thing.

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