Hmm. My DC experience has been odd re: the police.
I’ve dealt with cops before – as my family members, as nominal co-workers, as a witness to crime, as a crime victim, as one accused of crime. I’ve seen encounters with the public where the cop literally did acrobatics to keep from arresting someone and just get them on their way. I’ve seen encounters where both sides were just pig-headed, but only one had the power of arrest. I’ve also seen cops beat up people for no reason (actually, it was more of a *heard* situation as my cousin and I just kept walking up the street away from the encounter. It was 2am and the cops had their batons out – not a good time for an “evening officer” conversation).
Many cops are pretty cool humans – not modern saints, but cool humans. Now and then you run across a real asshole, but there are dysfunctional personalities in all professions (a price of societal work-specialization?).
Anyway, it’s usually been easy for me to get general information from the police. It just makes the wheels of justice turn smoother if they tell you “what happened” (the story that they’re going to tell on the stand, that is) so that all the actors have a more-or-less accurate understanding of the strengths of their cases and can value their risk accordingly.
However, I have to say that DC is totally frustrating. I’ve been trying to figure out where an officer works for the past 2 weeks. Turns out one precinct claimed he was on all kinds of different shifts, but he does not actually work at that precinct. He works at a different one, where again, has 2 “regular” shifts, according to the different cops manning the phones. Busy guy.
It would be comical/pathetic/disturbing that the cops are afraid of a 5 minute interview with a student attorney *if* it weren’t for the fact that they’re *not* helping themselves by doing so. Which just makes it stupid.
Oh, and the punchline is that in more than half those calls I didn’t ID myself as a student attorney, just as a member of the public who’d like to ask Officer X “about something that happened last week.” I could be a freaking witness for all they know. Which, again, just makes it stupid.
In another incident where I was assisting another student attorney, the DC cop we wanted to speak to actually snuck out the back door while one of his colleagues attempted to brow beat us. The browbeating officer officers informed us that *as a legal matter* we had to subpoena the officer in order to speak with him at all. That same officer also tried to tell us that *as a legal matter* the officer we wanted to question could talk only to the arrested person, not to the arrested person’s attorney.
As long as we're just completely making shit up, I'm the Duke of D.C., and as my personal vassal, I demand that Officer X attend me.