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Mediation: Rude Behavior

A citizen filed a complaint against an officer alleging rude behavior directed at the citizen and his friend.  The 75-year-old complainant was driving with his 80-year-old friend, who is nearly deaf, on Georgia Avenue, NW.  The complainant pulled over into an open space so he could go into a nearby convenience store.  A sign next to the space stated, “No Loitering.”  While paying for his purchase at the convenience store, the complainant noticed a police officer approaching his friend as the friend smoked a cigarette outside of the car.  The complainant observed the officer making excited hand gestures as he pointed at the friend and then at the car.  Finally, the officer placed a hand on the man’s shoulder and started pushing him toward the door of the complainant’s vehicle.  The complainant hurriedly walked toward the officer, yelling at him to take his hands off his friend and asking him what he thought he was doing.  The officer exclaimed back in a heated tone that the friend could not stand next to the car.  The complainant yelled back at the officer, to paraphrase his words, that the officer was not doing his job correctly.  The officer wrote both of the men a citation for loitering.

During the mediation session, the parties shared their perspectives on the situation.  The officer informed the complainant that he was trying to enforce the anti-loitering law in that section of town.  However, the officer had no idea at the time the complainant’s friend was nearly deaf and slightly senile.  With that realization, the officer expressed his understanding that the older man was not being uncooperative because he simply did not hear and understand him clearly.  Likewise, the complainant had not understood that an anti-loitering rule was in place, and that it was necessary for his friend to step back into the car.  After the parties talked for over an hour, they shook hands and parted amicably.