Christmas Eve. It is 11 p.m. in Washington and already it is apparent there will be no white Christmas here in 1977. Instead, there will be a wet christmas. It is starting to rain.
"Rain, what a bummer," says Debbie Weinsheimer as she steps outside and feels the drops. A few steps away her husband Frank is talking with some friends about Christmas and about the rain.
But the Weinsheimers have more on their minds than the season and the weather. They have both just arrived at work.
Work for the Weinsheimers means riding the 11 p.m. to 7 a.m. tour of duty in the police third district, known as one of the city's toughest.
On Christmas Eve many police officers received the night off so almost all of those working ride their scout cars alone. Debbie's partner, Clarence Black, has the night off so she will ride scout car 98 by herself. Frank will ride in car 245.
"Actually I prefer riding alone,"
[TEXT OMITTED FROM SOURCE] ceive a call from a woman demanding that her absent son be found and ar- Debbie says as she pulls away from headquarters located on V Street NW between 16th and 17th Streets. "I can do what I want to without worrying about someone else."
Debbie Weinsheimer is 26 and has been on the police force since 1973. A 100 percent grader on her last efficiency test, she will take and probably pass her promotional exam in March.
She confidently swings through the 14th Street and Thomas Circle area. "Look at that," she says pointing to streetcorners. "Christmas and the hookers are all still out there."
She stops the car to talk with one group an ask them why they aren't home with their families. They laugh and yell, "Merry Christmas," as Weinsheimer pulls away.
The first hours of Christmas are not destined to be merry for Weinsheimer. Before her tour of duty is over she will have been called to two domestic quarrels. She also will rerested. She will make two arrests, and will stop an 18-year-old for blatantly running a red light and then let him off with a warning as a Christmas gift.
"Working Christmas isn't bad," Weinsheimer said. "It's really a lot like any other night. It's just that sometimes it kind of bothers me to see those things going on when it's Christmas.
The words are barely out of her mouth when she receives her first unwanted Christmas sight: a woman standing in the middle of the street leaning into a car full of men. Clearly, she is not asking for directions.
As the police car pulls into view the car makes an exist leaving the woman a striking brunette in a white fur coat and bright yellow pants, alone to deal with Weinsheimer.
Weinshemer requests identification and calls for a second car to transport the woman. It is an unwritten rule - if a hooker is caught off the sidewalk she is arrested.
As she waits for the second car, Weinsheimer chats with the woman, who is doggedly insisting that the men stopped her. "This picture doesn't do you justice," Weinsheimer says holding the ID up to the light.
"Listen, you don't look too hot yourself so don't give me a hard time," the woman snorts angrily.
The woman admires the Christmas decoration and tinsel hung on the car mirror and talks about her three children who she says she is planning to go home to see, "right at 1:30."
At the police station, she is charged with "soliciting rides," the minimum charge available - $5 fine. But she does not have any money. She says there is no one she can call to get it. A man in the station and under arrest for a parole violation, hands the woman $5.
"Now that's what I call the Christmas spirit," Weinsheimer says with a grin. "Tell the man Merry Christmas and thank him." The timing is perfect. It was 12:01.
"Go home to your kids and have a Merry Christmas," Weinsheimer orders as the woman leaves. Ten minutes later as she drives by, Weinsheimer spots her back on the same corner.
Cruising the streets, Weinsheimer spots customers leaving People's Drug Store with Christmas packages.
"Look at that," she says. "Two-thirty Christmas morning and they're out Christmas shopping. How long did they have to get that done?"
Weinsheimer's second arrest of the evening comes in Dupont Circle shortly before 4 a.m. A man is sitting in his car passed out at the wheel. Weinsheimer shakes him awake and asks for a driver's license. The man says he has lost his wallet.
Weinsheimer calls for a transport. Realizing he's going to jail, the man turns abusive. "Why did they let you . . . broads do this stuff," he yells.
The man admits he has been drinking. He is charged with driving without permit. At the station he continues to tell Weinsheimer what he thinks of her. It takes an hour to confirm his identity and arrange his release.
As Weinsheimer heads back to her car she glances at the station clock. It is 5 a.m. She is asked what she plans to do with her Christmas Day.
"Sleep," she answers. "That's enough Christmas for me."