If you are a DC social media obsessive, you probably know Alan Henney, who tweets breaking local crime news straight from the police scanner all day every day. You also probably saw him getting dunked on heavily last weekend, after he posted a video of himself breaking the law.
To be fair, Henney walked into this one: he posted a speed camera video that showed his 1994 Ford Crown Victoria rolling slowly through a stop sign, writing “That’s me driving the white Crown Vic on Blagden Ave at Allison St NW. DC has fined me $200. Should I pay or contest it?”
DC’s robust community of rule-followers found the question irresistible, and their resounding answer was: Pay it. Many responders pointed out that reporting crime is Henney’s whole thing.
“‘I tweet breaking crime news’ in bio,” wrote X user Andrew DeFrank. “Sure do, buddy.”
Henney may not have read the room well here. But he says he’ll have the last laugh because he had already signed up for X’s new user monetization feature. “This month I think I’ll get enough money to cover my ticket,” Henney says. “As much as these people were enraged, they’re helping click away at potentially paying off my fine.”
That’s me driving the white Crown Vic on Blagden Ave at Allison St NW. DC has fined me $200. Should I pay or contest it? pic.twitter.com/o9218w8YYp
— Alan Henney (@alanhenney) October 14, 2023
A 56-year-old police-scanner junkie and ham-radio enthusiast from Takoma Park, Henney was a stringer and tipster for DC and Rehoboth Beach TV stations and newspapers for years before taking his operation to Twitter in 2009. He now has more than 50,500 followers, but his takes on crime often clash with those of the generally progressive DC online audience: More than guns, he blames DC crime on violence-glorifying rap, lenient sentencing, and so-called soft-on-crime policies.
“If you’re going to be for gun control, you have to be strict on punishment,” Henney says.
He says progressives and “crime deniers” have been “piling on” him for years. But the real pile-on came on Saturday, when Henney posted his rolling-stop video. Users, especially those who knew his crime beat, were happy to engage. The tweet accumulated over 10,600 replies and 3,900 quotes.
Journalist Sam Mintz reposted the video, adding: “Here is me breaking a law with some of the clearest video evidence imaginable.”
Former DCist reporter Martin Austermühle pointed out that the car behind Henney’s in the video provided a good example of how to stop at a stop sign.
One user called it “perfectly designed rage bait.”
A search on the DC DMV website shows Henney’s fine was actually $100, not $200. But Henney claims he meant his question earnestly. He saw the car behind him approaching rapidly in the rearview mirror as he reached the stop sign, and says he slid forward to avoid potentially being rear-ended.
“Immediately it’s become this conservative versus liberal thing,” Henney says. “I think that they all run stop signs from time to time.”
“I might challenge it,” he adds. “I haven’t decided yet.”