The DC City Council recently passed emergency legislation that included reforms related to the DC Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) and its operations. The new law is called the Comprehensive Policing and Justice Reform Second Emergency Amendment Act of 2020 (D.C. Act 23-336). The Council intends to vote on a permanent replacement for this emergency legislation before the end of this year.
The legislation was introduced and championed by Ward 6 Councilman Charles Allen, Chair of the Council’s Judiciary Committee. It prohibits neck restraints (“chokeholds”) declaring these to be lethal force and an unnecessary danger to the public. The legislation also prohibits officers from reviewing their body-worn camera footage; requires that police and the mayor make public the name of an officer involved in a serious use of force public, as well as their body-cam footage, within 72 hours; adds police complaints reforms and puts new limits on “consent” searches.
New Police Reform Commission
This legislation also established a DC Police Reform Commission. The Commission is charged with examining policing practices in the District and providing recommendations for reforming and re-visioning policing. This includes:
- Looking at the role of sworn and special police officers in public schools
- Developing alternatives to police responses such as community-based, behavioral health or social service co-responders
- Reviewing police discipline
- Integration of conflict resolution strategies and restorative justice practices into policing
The Commission held its first meeting on August 26, 2020. During the meeting, Council Chairman Phil Mendelson directed the commission to exercise its mandate broadly, draw on the expertise of its members, and look at any policing issues that would be helpful to the Council.
Subcommittees will be established around certain specific topics. These are being formed up now.
This first meeting consisted of the Commissioners introducing themselves and being briefed on their mandates and other DC laws that governs their work. Here is a list of the Commissioners:
- Robert Bobb, Co-Chair, President & CEO of the Robert Bobb Group; former District government City Administrator
- Christy Lopez, Co-Chair, Professor and Co-Founder/Director of Innovative Policing Program at Georgetown Law
- Elena Bell, Interim Principal at Takoma Education Campus
- Robert Bennett, Senior Counsel at Bennett Doyle LLP; former federal prosecutor; and leading member of the defense bar
- Kent Boese, Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner with ANC 1A
- Samantha Davis, Founder of Black Swan Academy
- Tina Frundt, Founder & Executive Director of Courtney’s House; national advocate on domestic sex trafficking
- Herb Gray, Founder & CEO of Life Enhancement Services, a nationally accredited provider of behavioral health services
- Emily Gunston, Office of the Attorney General and former Deputy Chief of the U.S. Department of Justice Civil Rights Division Special Litigation Section
- Ronald Hampton, Retired MPD Officer; former Executive Director of National Black Police Association, Inc.
- LaShunda Hill, juvenile justice reform expert; formerly at Georgetown Juvenile Justice Initiative and Pew Charitable Trusts
- Corwin Knight, Founder and CEO of the Hope Foundation Reentry Network
- George Lambert Jr., President and CEO of the Greater Washington Urban League
- Jeffrey Richardson, Founder and Principal of Enspired Muse Coaching and Management
- Naïké Savain, Supervising Attorney for the Children’s Law Center Guardian ad Litem project
- Sultan Shakir, Executive Director of SMYAL (Support and Mentoring Youth Advocates and Leaders)
- Mignon Smith, former Assistant Principal at D.C. Prep and math teacher at Stone Ridge School of the Sacred Heart
- Patrice Sulton, Director of D.C. Justice Lab and Senior Attorney Advisor to the D.C. Criminal Code Reform Commission
- Kurt Vorndran, a current member the Police Complaints Board
- A faith community representative still to be finalized