Photo by Sebastian Shapiro.
After a raccoon was accused (falsely, it seems!) of attacking humans on Columbus Avenue between 71st and 72nd Street around brunch time on Sunday, we had many questions. And Captain Timothy Malin, commanding officer of the 20th precinct, has helped clear some of them up. His response to our question about the police’s role in Sunday’s incident is below.
My officers responded to two 911 calls of a raccoon in a tree on Sunday morning. The patrol officers responded and observed the raccoon in the tree, not bothering anyone. It did not appear to be injured or in an agitated or discombobulated state. However, because one of the 911 callers said it was being aggressive toward passerby’s, they also asked our Emergency Services Unit (ESU) to respond and take a look. ESU deals very frequently with raccoons, and better knows the signs of a rabid animal. The raccoon was fast asleep in a branch when they arrived. Based on the available facts, ESU made the determination that it was probably not rabid and if we attempted to take it down from the tree, which is its natural habitat, we could cause it harm. We wanted to avoid this and let it be.
I don’t know if someone is trying to “frame” this critter. But I can say that at this time the raccoon is neither wanted for questioning, or suspect in any criminal act.
Asked to clarify if this means that the police allowed the raccoon to go on its way, the captain replied “Yes, but not before a lengthy observation period and an informed opinion.”