It’s a cold, rainy Friday night in the sixth District of the Metropolitan Police Department. Officer Francis Jenkins III is on a call for a missing person.
A bipolar 14-year-old girl’s mother last saw her daughter leaving school at 7:30 that morning and at 8:26 p.m., when Jenkins responded to the 911 call, her child had still not come home. Jenkins recorded names, a description of the girl and then he went into his patrol car to make phone calls.
“This is Officer Jenkins from 6-D,” he said as he calls the D.C. morgue, asking if a body matching the girl’s description has been dropped off today. Negative.
Phone calls to local hospitals and shelters continue; it appears to be a dead end. All of a sudden at 8:53 p.m., Jenkins’ eyes widen as a call comes in on the radio.
“1033!” an officer yells into his radio. A dispatcher repeats the call and instructs all officers to respond.
Within seconds Jenkins is speeding down a road at 75 miles per hour in Northeast D.C. Blue and red emergency lights are pulsating and the sound of a siren is commanding drivers to yield to Jenkins, who is on his way to back up a fellow officer.
As he arrives on the scene, a handful of police cars with their lights and sirens equally alarming also drive up to a recreation center where a band is playing a concert.
As Jenkins walks into the gymnasium where the concert is, he is surrounded by scores of other 6-D officers. Upon entering, he finds that a fight between two young men has broken up and police backup is no longer needed. Jenkins hangs around for about five minutes before he and other officers leave the scene.
“Well that was a little bit of excitement,” Jenkins said. “You seldom hear a 1033, so when you do, you get there quick.”
Jenkins explained that a 1033 is a call sign for an officer in trouble requesting backup.
“Sometimes a 1033 means an officer is in a dangerous situation so you have to get there,” he said.
About 85 percent of calls he responds to are domestic-related, Jenkins said. Even though 6-D, which includes Anacostia and Lincoln Heights, has a reputation for being the worse district in D.C., Jenkins said it’s not too bad.
“6-D gets a bad rap,” he said. “I like 6-D because it give you experience. Of all the things you hear about 6-D, you think it’s going to be crazy-crazy, but it’s nothing like that. It’s just busy.”
Jenkins, 26, has been on the force for four years, which makes him one of the younger veterans at 6-D, where officer turnover is high. Jenkins’ father was an MPD officer in the seventh district for 27 years before retiring.
The job has gotten tougher in recent months, Jenkins said. On July 11, MPD Chief Charles Ramsey declared a Crime Emergency in D.C. The initiative installed closed circuit cameras in high crime areas and mandated a 10 p.m. curfew for juveniles, according to MPD’s Web site.
The Crime Emergency also has pushed more working hours onto MPD officers. Jenkins use to get two days off a week, now he only gets one day off a week and two days off the next.
“It just wears you down,” Jenkins said about the increased hours. “I just kind of work all the time now.”
Jenkins has been working since 2 p.m., and he spends the last hour of his shift patrolling local neighborhoods for anything suspicious.
“It’s a big cat-and-mouse game,” Jenkins said. “You send them away and then they come back.”
As he pulls his car back into the 6-D headquarters at 10:30 p.m., there has been no word on the 14-year-old girl. But it’s time for Jenkins to go home.