Officer Mark Lee stands outside Club Five as a light rain trickles off the brim of his cap. It’s Friday night, and Lee’s been called to investigate a possible fight that occurred inside the Connecticut Avenue nightclub.
“It’s just four or five hours of this,” says Lee, 31, a two-year veteran of the Metropolitan Police’s Second District. “First and Second District (officers) are always in nightclubs. It gets old after a while.”
While outside the club, a man approaches the officers. His hands are cut and bloodied.
While Lee interviews witnesses outside the club, his partner, Officer Michael Ursiny, looks for the people who assaulted the young man. After Ursiny comes out empty-handed, Lee asks the man if he wants medical attention.
The man quickly refuses and becomes belligerent, attempting to walk back into the club.
“Can I go?” he asks Lee. “I just want a drink. I’m good to go. I just want to settle the beef.”
“There’s nothing you can do,” says Lee, standing between the man and the entrance to the club. “We’ll take care of it.”
Throwing his bloodied hands up into the air in a gesture of futility, the man stumbles off and eventually hails a cab.
After honking at several double-parked cabs, Lee receives a call over his radio that a black man with a knife has just exited T.G.I. Friday’s at 21st Street and Pennsylvania Avenue.
Lee is the second officer to arrive on the scene, where Officer Christopher Leary has chased down a black man with dreadlocks. Lee begins questioning the man, who silently stares in the direction of a black female who has just exited the restaurant.
The woman, flanked by several friends, shows the officers her torn jeans, which she claims were cut in a skirmish with her boyfriend inside Friday’s.
Lee searches the suspect but fails to find a knife or any other weapon.
The victim tells the officers that her boyfriend assaulted her because he was angry that she couldn’t pick him up from his mother’s house. Officers tell the woman that she can either have her boyfriend arrested or decline to press charges.
Leary puts the suspect in the back seat of his patrol car and drives away, as Lee and the other officers interview witnesses and search the area for evidence.
Lee realizes he’ll have to go back to the station to fill out the paperwork for the arrest, a two-day headache.
District law states that the officer who fills out the paperwork on an arrest must report to the U.S. District Attorney’s office the next day. Lee, after working an eight-hour shift that ends at 7 a.m., will have go to court and spend countless hours filing papers.
“(Going to court the next day) is hard because I’ve only been in the department for two years,” says Lee as he pulls into a spot at the station.
“It’s hard to adjust to that. A couple of times, I’ve fallen asleep in court.”
The lobby of Second District headquarters on a Friday night is a seeming purgatory, where friends, husbands, wives, brothers and sisters teeter on the brink of restlessness as they await the release of their loved ones.
A bald man from Prince George’s County and his son are picking up his daughter, who was arrested for drunk driving.
“She’s been going good except for this time,” says the man, who shrugs off her behavior with complacency uncharacteristic of a father.
He says his son, who has gone outside for a cigarette, spent a year in jail for killing someone in a drunk driving motorcycle accident.
“You think his sister would’ve learned from that,” he says, struggling not to show any emotion.
A college student in a tuxedo paces up and down the hallway waiting for the release of his friend, who was busted for underage drinking at McFadden’s bar.
“I wonder how many people are getting murdered when they pick up kids for fake IDs,” says the sophomore, who attended a diplomatic ball earlier in the night.
In the officers’ lounge, Lee sits down at a computer and starts typing up the arrest report. While he sits at the desk, another officer enters the room and eases into a cushioned chair.
“What do you have, Lee?” the officer asks.
“ADW knife, domestic,” Lee responds.
“Cool,” says the officer, diving into his dinner, a “number five” from Moby Dick’s House of Kabob.
Lee, patient and unhurried, fills out the report with the assiduousness of an accountant, despite his aversion to the process.
“Someone has to take this arrest,” Lee says. “If I had my choice, no, I wouldn’t come off the street. It’s tedious, very tedious. This is the part I don’t like about police work.”