Put your feet into the shoes of a man we'll call Jeff. On Monday morning, he witnessed an accident involving an automobile and a motorcycle at 15th and K streets NW. He ran to a pay telephone nearby to call for the police and an ambulance, but someone closer had gotten there first.

As many of us do, Jeff had urgent business elsewhere and left the scene before the police arrived. But later in the day, he wanted to provide information on what he saw. In this case, it tended to support the cyclist.

But Jeff made several phone calls and couldn't find anyone to tell it to. The hospital, in this case George Washington University's, wouldn't give him the name of the injured biker -- because, presumably, of privacy rules. Two police stations that cover the general area (although the Second District has control of the 15th and K intersection) pleaded ignorance of the accident. (Sometimes, the independent Traffic Division covers such incidents.)

How then, does Jeff -- or you or I -- provide such information? If you can't wait at the scene, which is recommended, Officer Wendell Samuels of the D.C. police public information office suggests that the informant wait at least until the current police work shift is over and then call the appropriate district. An officer who is at the scene of an accident at 9 a.m. won't -- except, perhaps, in the case of a fatality -- turn in his report until roughly 4 p.m. Only then will the police district ordinarily even know, that the accident occurred.

Because of this, Samuels said, calling the next day actually may be better.

As we said at the top of this item, Jeff's observation of the accident would have supported the motorcyclist. According to the Second District police, the investigating officer issued two citations: one to the auto driver, for alleged failure to yield the right-of-way to the cyclist; the other to the biker, for allegedly running the yellow cycle on a traffic signal and putting himself into the path of the auto.