Read What The Jogger Called In

Paul Bass PhotoPolice escorted a man out of Edgewood Park last weekend after a jogger called 911 to report that the man had concealed his face and pressed himself up against a hidden wall under a bridge where crimes have taken place. The episode sparked a wide-ranging discussion of policing and race in this Independent thread. Following is a transcript of the 911 call. (Click here for the original story.)

Dispatcher: New Haven 911.

Jogger (panting): Hi, New Haven please? A suspicious activities report.

Dispatcher: All right what’s going on.

Jogger: OK, um, I was just jogging through Edgewood Park and passed under the Edgewood Avenue bridge. And there’s a man—I’d say African American male, probably 25, with a ski mask on—who looks like, he was sort of up against ..

All right. Where exactly were you in Edgewood Park?

Jogger: OK, I was jogging under the Edgewood Avenue Bridge. So the main path that goes through the park.

Dispatcher: Under the Edgewood Avenue Bridge…

Jogger: This is under the Edgewood Avenue Bridge on the main path in the park, the main paved road. And there was a guy who just looked like he was clearly lying in wait ...

Dispatcher: Black? White? Hispanic?

He was black. I would say probably 25. But all I could see were his eyes. ‘Cause he had—either it was either a ski mask or it was a hat pulled very low. with his turtleneck pulled way up.

OK. And What was he doing?

Jogger: Well, he was standing up against, underneath, the side of the bridge, basically to try to make himself invisible. It’s like, he pressed himself up against the wall. He wasn’t just loitering, which would be fine. But he was like trying to look invisible, basically.

So he had a black ski mask on ...

Jogger: Yeah. In this weather? A guy with a ski mask ? It just made no sense.

Dispatcher: And a turtleneck ...

Jogger: It was either a ski mask or a hat pulled low and a turtleneck pulled up with ha hat pulled low. Because all you could see were his eyes.

Dispatcher: Let’s see. Jeans? Anything?

Jogger: I think his pants were black. I think he dressed all in black.

Dispatcher: All right. Black pants. Was he walking? Or no?

Jogger: No. He was just standing very very still. Like he was trying to be invisible. And I said to him, I was jogging with my dog, I said, “Hey, what’s up?” And he just didn’t say anything.

[At this point the dispatcher asked the jogger’s name, which he provided.]

Dispatcher: All right. Do you want to talk to an officer? Or do you just want us to go over there?

Jogger: I just think somebody should go by and just say hi to him. Just to let him know

Dispatcher: All right.

Jogger: Thank you.

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posted by: Bill Saunders on March 13, 2014  4:45pm

Obviously the Police say ‘Hi’ differently than citizens do…..

posted by: Bill Saunders on March 13, 2014  4:50pm

At this point, I would be interested in knowing how the jogger feels about how the police handled the incident.

posted by: darnell on March 13, 2014  4:52pm

@Bill Saunders


posted by: darnell on March 13, 2014  4:55pm

“He was just standing very very still. Like he was trying to be invisible. And I said to him, I was jogging with my dog, I said, “Hey, what’s up?” And he just didn’t say anything”.

A Black man trying to be invisible when a man with a dog jogs by. NA and he didn’t say anything when he was addressed by that authority figure (the white man with a dog.

I’m sorry everyone, you were right, it does seem like he was committing a crime.

posted by: TheMadcap on March 13, 2014  4:59pm

Let the new comment war begin!

posted by: FacChec on March 13, 2014  5:00pm

OK, that’s what the jogger called in to 911, and provided his impression of the man and the incident. Note: The key is that the man did not speak and made no threaten movement towards the jogger.

However, this is what the police found and reported:

Sgt. Renee Forte, Westville’s top cop, later related the rest of the story: “The officers checked to see if the man, who is 46 years old and lives in New Haven, had any outstanding warrants. He did not. They asked why he was standing under the bridge. “He claimed that he was cutting through the park and ducked back there because he wanted to urinate.” Also, the police had been told by the 911 dispatcher that the call had concerned a man with a ski mask over his face; he had a knit cap, not a ski mask. Without any evidence that he had in fact urinated, the officers had no grounds for an arrest. They ordered the man to leave the area and stay out of the park. He complied”.

“Forte said “it’s very possible that the dispatcher” didn’t ask for enough information from the jogger. “That’s a problem we’ve been having.”

The findings directly contradict the impressions of the jogger which was influenced by the friends, who were not questioned.

At this point there is no evidence that the man had any intentions at all. The fact that the man had a previous out of state record means nothing as it relates to the man’s action in this incident.

I stand pat on my original opinion and statement.

FacChec on March 12, 2014 3:06pm

“Clearly, the jogger questioned his own initial thoughts, and was talked into action by others based on the description given to them by the jogger with no empirical evidence of their own.

My advice to the jogger, his friends and the NHI, stay out of the park underpass and ride your bike in cycle lanes instead”.

posted by: THREEFIFTHS on March 13, 2014  5:03pm

Jogger: Well, he was standing up against, underneath, the side of the bridge, basically to try to make himself invisible. It’s like, he pressed himself up against the wall. He wasn’t just loitering, which would be fine. But he was like trying to look invisible, basically.

Jogger: It was either a ski mask or a hat pulled low and a turtleneck pulled up with ha hat pulled low. Because all you could see were his eyes.

Why would anyone run toward a person who they feel is making himself invisible and has a ski mask pull down on there face.This story smells Of B. S.

posted by: WC parent on March 13, 2014  5:06pm

Awesome job Paul.  Loved reading the transcript.

posted by: 14yearsinNHandgone on March 13, 2014  6:50pm

” But he was like trying to look invisible, basically.”

That’s why would call it in, too, black or white or purple.

Of course, some people see racism everywhere, even where it is none, and there’s no convincing them otherwise.  Usually it’s because that backs up what they want or need to believe to support their view of the world, or because they themselves are racist.

posted by: 14yearsinNHandgone on March 13, 2014  6:58pm

Thanks for the picture.  You could probably set up a mannequin under there in the same clothes, and people would call it in.

posted by: Westville voter on March 13, 2014  7:02pm

Seeing all of these photos of the dilapidated, graffiti-covered bridge makes me sad. It was not this trashy before last summer’s crime wave drove so many people away from the park. Failing to address those problems has done long-term damage.

posted by: romby on March 13, 2014  9:41pm

Why can’t this story, like the turtlenecked man, just go totally invisible. It’s existence is driving me totally bonkers. No more I say!

posted by: Theodora on March 13, 2014  10:11pm

Invisible man? Read some Ralph Ellison, jogger.

posted by: Bill Saunders on March 13, 2014  11:34pm

It seems to me that after the police gave this sweatered gentleman the ‘official once over’, and not finding anything, that the proper response should have been:

“Thank you for your time, sir.  Enjoy the beautiful day…...”

That he was escorted out, and told not to return is the true over-reach here…...

posted by: Bill Saunders on March 14, 2014  1:20am


The jogger might not have the time to read all of Invisible Man. 

But may I suggest that everybody at least read the First Chapter, Battle Royal.

posted by: WestvilleAdvocate on March 14, 2014  6:32am

I’ve decided I’m done reading this online news source.  Your stories are getting more silly by the month.

NHI, this is ridiculous.  I know you are a hyper-local news source but this story, from the beginning, wasn’t really worthy of being reported.  It was clearly put on your site to draw comments, of which I can pretty much guarantee you censored many of.  And now there is a Part Deux! LOL

You are welcome to disable my account…

posted by: David S Baker on March 14, 2014  7:18am

‘Jogger’ handled this VERY well, but I always preface my race descriptions with the disclaimer, “Look I didn’t ask him about his cultural heritage or run DNA genealogy, but he looked like ‘celebrity of your choice’ ethnicity and ‘description of clothing and location’.”  Because you never know when Paul is going to pull your phone call from police and risk making you look like a racist profiler. 

My approach can go to far the other direction too.  There were students at Yale who were refusing to describe the race suspicious characters to the police after a bomb scare a few years ago!  So, all that said, ‘Jogger’ handled himself VERY well.

posted by: yim-a on March 14, 2014  8:10am

Since when has urinating in a public place become a good excuse for suspicious behavior?  Though I’ve seen much worse than that in East Rock Park.

posted by: Shaggybob on March 14, 2014  10:52am

The jogger was correct, he was reporting suspicious activity. He should have stressed the fact that there have been several muggings at this location that the District Manager encouraged people to report any suspicious activity and that is primarily why he was calling.

As for Srgnt. Forte’s comment about dispatch-the article does not include what was relayed from dispatch to the officers. Even though dispatch did a good job of getting a description. (but they forgot the shoes, thieves change their clothing but rarely their shoes !!) For all we know the call came through as a suspicious black male in Edgewood park.

As that is a problem area, sending someone who is obviously up to no good on there way was the right thing to do.

posted by: Uncle Egg on March 14, 2014  11:26am

Great. As if New Haven didn’t have problems enough, now we have ninjas. Nice work, Mayor Harp!

posted by: Stephanie FitzGerald on March 14, 2014  11:52am

1. I walk in Edgewood Park almost every day and have done so for almost 40 years.  I have seen many things there and I suppose I am very lucky, but I have never had to call the police. This situation that the dog jogger experienced was NOT an emergency.  If he felt uncomfortable, he should have dialed the police non emergency number.

2. Right now the underside of the Edgewood Bridge is ugly. We can make it better! Some ideas (these are not all mine.)

-have more people walking, jogging, bike riding under the bridge.

-have irregular police bike and walking patrols in the park and around its perimeter.

-have more park rangers,“greeters”, or “ambassadors” walking in the park to help people feel comfortable in the parks.

-keep up with the graffiti under and near the bridge. Paint the walls under the bridge to make a “canvas” for public art that could be monitored for content and that would be updated every couple of months.

-move or add a dog park to the grassy area adjacent to the bridge (southeast side)

If you want to help make “under the bridge” more attractive and user friendly, consider joining the Friends of Edgewood Park safety team or grounds/infrastructure team.  Email us at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

posted by: TheMadcap on March 14, 2014  12:29pm


If you think this is a silly story I don’t know what to tell you. This may be just one incident, but it’s honestly a metaphor for problems all over the city. Namely the racial divide and crime(and whether or not this was a good or bad way to be proactive about it)

posted by: darnell on March 14, 2014  2:19pm


This is a story that happens everyday in New Haven and other similar cities, just go into any Black or Latino neighborhood and ask the first man of color you see, they can all recite a personal incident.

It is sort of misunderstanding that causes the incidents like Trayvon Martin, etc. It could have easily escalated if the Black guy had decided that he didn’t like a stranger running up to him and demanding “What’s up?”. Or if he didn’t like his civil rights being violated by 3 police officers kicking him out of the park.

So no, it is no a silly story, and yes, Paul and his crew should keep writing these sort of stories.