Should I do anything about a potentially dead guy in front of my apartment?

I checked and it’s 67 degrees and sunny in Los Angeles. I know nothing about hypothermia. Is it likely under those circumstances?

So there needs to be a specific level of risk of death before picking up the phone and calling 911? What is that level of risk? 90%? 10%? Does the age, race, or perceived socioeconomic status of the person lying there unconscious on your lawn make a difference?

Well, of course. If he’s not in any danger, why would I call the cops on him?

If you see a homeless person on the street, do you always call the cops? How about if someone is claiming to be homeless and asking for a dollar? Do you call the cops on those people? Do you think those people want you to call the cops? For whose benefit would you be doing it?

Just call the police!

It will take you less time then it did to write this thread.

No. All of those people are conscious, however.

I am not an expert but you can hypothermia quickly if you are immerced in 67° water. I would think that being soak through in heavy clothes could cause some serious medical problems in the least.

If the guy was passed out under a tree, I would probably pass him by, but as he is being soaked by a sprinkler it would be a good idea for the police to check on him.

friedo, I understand your point of view, but you overlooked the forum. Go visit Contrapuntal thread:


FYI, it’s now 1:30PM and I just checked again. He’s gone.

From the Mayo Clinic

I should add it it quite windy in parts of LA today.
From Outdoor Action

A drunk passed out on a lawn, sprayed by sprinklers would have all of the conditions listed
Yes he is at risk.

I’ve seen quite a few people whose status I wouldn’t be able to determine with a glance. Could be asleep. Could be unconscious. Could be dead. If a train were bearing down on them, I’d do what I could to get them out of the way, conscious or not. But if there is no obvious danger (I think the sprinkler in the OP is an obvious potential danger), I’m not going to start calling the cops on people.

I want to help people who need (and want) help. I don’t want to harass people who don’t.

Thanks for the information. It’s good to know.

If you see someone robbing a store and call the cops, you are calling the cops on them. If you see someone in distress and call the cops, you are calling the cops for them, even if you were wrong about how much distress is involved.

If a person is asleep or drunk and I call the cops and that person is then arrested for loitering, I’ve called the cops on them.

If it turns out that there was no danger, then I have not done a good thing by bringing in the cops.

I don’t have a terrible opinion of cops, but I recognize that they aren’t the greatest friends of the homeless, or of people they suspect of being homeless.

I am absolutely going to weigh what I consider the potential risks to the person and act to the best of my ability.

I think some posts were a bit to tough on the OP. I’ve never lived in an area where that kind of thing was common, but I’ve certainly visited them and been exposed to it, enough to know it’s a tough call. I think the sprinkler thing would have made me decide to call, but I wasn’t there. I often see tweakers and drunks begging at stop lights and on freeway ramps around here. It’s pretty hard to muster any compassion for them. I’m not a cynic, but I usually offer help where I think it will do some good, like to people who really want it.

So is it fair to say, that if you saw someone laying under a sprinkler on a cool day and not moving for a while, you would call the cop? That is all that is ultimately being asked. I know I would.

It is easy to dial 911. Heck, I call 911 whenever I pass someone broken down on the road. This happens weekly, so I cannot stop to help, but calling 911 is easy enough. (I cannot stop as I am always just barely on time to work and until last year I had a problem with lateness. I cannot risk my job when it is easy enough to let the State Police handle it.)


I would attempt to rouse them first.

The OP does not sound like a heartless bastard to me; as he said in the OP, he sounds like someone who is living in an area where people lying passed out is business as usual. No, that’s not ideal, but if that was my reality, I probably wouldn’t be calling the cops every time I saw one, either. I tend to not bother people sleeping outside; I figure they know better than I do what their story is. Any place that I see people passed out, there are always plenty of police patrols, and if the police are happy to let them sleep there, I have no problem with it.

Does this mean I have no compassion for my fellow man? Hell no. I just can’t fix the world, and I’m learning that I can’t feel bad about everything, either.

I agree with you about people sleeping outside in general. But this OP thought there was something wrong. He was aware there was possibly something wrong, yet he did nothing. To me, calling the police isn’t the obvious choice of what to do, but doing something to get more information is. Not when it’s someone sleeping, but when you have reason to believe it’s not just sleep–which this OP admitted.

Are they unconscious when they are begging?

The OP could not even be bothered to determine whether the man was a tweaker or a drunk.

He couldn’t be bothered to determine if the guy was dead.

Well said and thank you. I feel like I care very much for people, although most of you obviously disagree. But I have grown up very independent, and I have a particular concern for fostering independence in others. I’ve never claimed that I didn’t have time or couldn’t be bothered to call 911, but I genuinely wasn’t sure it was the right thing to do. This may seem completely obvious and apparent to the rest of you, but you weren’t there either.

I’m willing to concede that it probably would have been thoughtful to at least try to rouse him and see if he wanted to move to a more dry area. But I was genuinely afraid to even interact with him, as living in this area is prone to do to a person. I’m sure he would have hit me up for money quickly afterwards. And that’s not me being heartless, but realistic.