Updates

Press Release | May 29, 2018

Notes From My 3rd Annual Ward 1 Public Safety Summit - Office of Councilmember Brianne K. Nadeau

Last month, I held my 3rd annual Ward 1 Public Safety Summit. Originally, this event was a chance for residents to meet their police officers, but in years since we’ve included other organizations and agencies that serve our youth and also play an important role in keeping our community safe.

Screen_Shot_2018-05-29_at_3.51.32_PM.pngThe goal is to ensure residents have information about what the police and other community groups are doing to ensure safety in Ward 1 and for residents to ask questions and meet officers and representatives of the organizations. We filled the community room at Banneker Recreation Center and had a good discussion.

Below you’ll find highlights from the presentations, as well as answers to additional written questions that MPD Chief Peter Newsham couldn’t get to in the time allotted.

A couple of points to highlight:

I believe that everyone deserves to live in a community where they feel safe. Ward 1 is the most diverse ward in the District so it’s important to acknowledge that this means different things for people of color than it does for a white woman like me. Different segments of the population experience police interaction differently. It’s important to me that everyone is treated with respect.

That’s why my work on public safety seeks to strike a balance. It involves both ensuring MPD has the funding it needs to do its work safely, respectfully and swiftly, while simultaneously ensuring the civil rights of all our residents.  

One of the ways we’re doing that is through a new law I co-introduced called the NEAR Act, a comprehensive criminal justice reform bill that addresses community violence with a public health approach. The NEAR Act is now fully funded and I continue to track its implementation closely.

I’m in constant communication with the police commanders in Ward 1 to relay concerns I hear from constituents and to ensure police have the resources they need to do their jobs effectively. The Chief and his officers have demonstrated their willingness to work with the community and their participation in the event is a testament to how much they value good relationships with the community they protect.

Our Ward 1 crime statistics tell us that things are moving in a positive direction but that there is still work to do. But more important than statistics is how you feel in the neighborhood.

I also want to note that hate crimes will not be tolerated in this community. Recently, there was an apparent hate crime attack on two gay men on U Street. That kind of outrageous attack and hate should have no place in our community. [Since this meeting there has been another apparent hate crime attack on a gay man in Pleasant Plains. I’ve been working with ANC 1B and MPD to hold a community dialogue and allyship training as well as a chance for MPD to share statistics about hate crimes and more information about their strategies to end this type of crime. It will be held Thursday, June 7 from 6-7 p.m. at the DCHFA building at 815 Florida Ave NW.]

I already mentioned how I’m in regular communication with MPD and our agencies to relay information I’m hearing from residents. My Constituent Service team conducts neighborhood walkthrough on a regular basis with MPD and agencies. As Councilmember, I’m also working to fund prevention and establish programs that will help reduce crime in the ward.

Examples of this work include $250,000 in gang violence prevention funding I secured for Ward 1 nonprofits working with youth, my support of the NEAR Act, the Private Security Camera Rebate Program, and increasing MPD’s budget for more officers. I’ve also introduced gun violence prevention legislation that gives police and residents more tools to reduce access to guns if someone is an immediate risk to themselves or others.

And I pushed for the first-ever Council hearing on street harassment, and introduced a comprehensive bill to end street harassment through education and culture change. It will create the first legal definition of street harassment in the country. I also want to make sure our youth have opportunities to succeed, which is why I co-wrote a new law establishing the Office of Youth Outcomes, which will improve wraparound services for our kids and after school enrichment activities.

And it’s why I’ve fought to fund new Main Street Organizations in Mount Pleasant, Columbia Heights, and Georgia Ave as well as Clean Team expansions across the ward. These organizations support local businesses and keep our corridors clean and can help identify potential problem areas. They’re another set of eyes on the street.

 

Chief Peter Newsham, Metropolitan Police Department

Chief Newsham remarked on the great turnout, which shows that people are concerned about what happens in their community. He spoke to some things that MPD is doing to address crime and improve public safety. MPD is beginning its annual summer crime initiative, which identifies places where there are concentrations of crime. The approach is two pronged. There is a police approach dealing with violent crime and repeat violent offenders. And there is a second piece where a captain is assigned to each area to coordinate with city services to get to the root of the problem. Police aren’t going to solve it alone and police arresting people doesn’t solve it alone, services are important. He said that when MPD does the summer initiative we see a reduction in crime. It’s focused on the areas most plagued with violent crime and in need of resources.

MPD also began a program in cooperation with the National Museum of African American History and Culture and the University of the District of Columbia to create a training program for officers. They go through the museum guided by professors from UDC tailored to having police officers understanding the African American experience in DC. As of the time of our meeting, 600 members of MPD have gone through it. Sworn and civilian staff will get it through this year. The Chief was on Kojo that day to discuss it and a caller said it’s something that needs to be reemphasized over time and MPD plans to do that.

The Chief also reiterated MPD’s long standing policy: they do not enforce civil immigration laws. They will not do that. Their uniform’s patch is a sign of safety for immigrants in our community. He said the patch in Latin says “justice for all” and that’s what we stand for at MPD.

MPD is also bringing back its popular Officer Friendly program. They are seeing elementary aged children. This year it is at seven schools, all grades to develop relationships with youth across the city. The curriculum discusses bullying, dissuading gang activity, and being part of a community.

The population of DC has increased since 2009, and there have been increased calls to MPD, but they have decreased response time to priority 1 calls over that time. The statistics show that reported violent crime is falling, which the Chief said is very good news for DC. There are far fewer people the victims of violent crime in our city. The Chief presented recent crime stats for the city that showed an increase in homicides and decrease in other crimes, with an overall 9% reduction in violent crimes in the city. The chief cited a recent homicide not far from Banneker. A 33-year-old was killed, and MPD was able to make an arrest but they still have a suspect. They put images out in the community. It’s important for folks to look out for people in the crime photos.

 

Director Del McFadden, Office of Neighborhood Safety and Engagement

Director McFadden expressed optimism about the work of this new agency created by the NEAR Act. Soon they will have 16 full time employees in their office, which they’re finalizing soon.

ONSE’s mission is to foster a community-oriented model of violence prevention and public safety that is rooted in a public health approach, recognizing that reducing crime is not accomplished solely through law enforcement. They are provision 1A of the NEAR Act.

There are four components to their program:

The Pathways Program works with the most vulnerable residents. It is a 1 year program where a person will get workforce training and streamlined services for the population. It can be a very difficult population to work with. The Community Stabilization Program responds to every homicide in the District. It brings together 12 different agencies on a call to respond to each event to make sure people get the services they need. Now they will be expanding to nonfatal major incidents as well. The Safer Stronger Team provides case management services because there’s no cookie cutter approach that works for each person. It provides more customized services. Finally, there is violence intervention and prevention work which is administered by 3 non-profits across the District through a $750,000 grant. ONSE’s budget is going up and it’s able to put millions out into the community to do this work of prevention and intervention.

 

Commander Randy Griffin, 4th District

Commander Griffin is the 4th District’s new commander. He is a native Washingtonian, and his previous work with MPD and life in the District have made him very familiar with Ward 1. He praised his 4th District team and fellow captains. He said he would stay at the event after the formal questions and answer session to answer any additional one-on-one questions.

 

Commander Stuart Emerman, 3rd District

Commander Emerman remarked that this is his third of these public safety meetings and the thanked the community for attending. Community involvement helps him and his team solve these crimes. He said that any crime is too much crime, and the perception is important too. We need to know why you don’t feel safe in the community. We want to address your concerns. You have more eyes and ears than we do.

 

Alonzo Holloway, DPR Roving Leaders Program

Mr. Holloway described the work of the Roving leaders program, which involves outreach in the community to youth. They work hand in hand with agencies across the city hosting programs such as reading sessions, home visits, mediation, movie nights, rock wall events, and they have a trailer that goes around the city to give kids activities to do. They hold summer camps and in the evening they go to PSAs to give youth activities to do. They have Motown event for the parents too. And they assist with Basketball tournaments over the summer, with 15 going on across the city. The goal is to provide youth with activities that lead to good outcomes for the youth and the community.

 

Roger Kemp, US Attorney’s Office

The US Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia is unique in that it serves as both the local and federal prosecutor for the city. The representative from the US Attorney’s office described their work and stated that the Citizen’s Advisory Council meeting is the best opportunity to be responsive to the community. He reiterated a comment from the Chief about the importance of their work together keeping an eye on cases that are moving through the system. He stated that the US Attorney’s office has a court report prepared regularly which details the cases moving through the system. Community Outreach Specialist Latoya Davenport can send residents the court report so that they can follow cases if they want to provide a community impact statement or be aware of what is happening. He stated that among the cases they’re dealing with now is vending without a license. He stated that he and his team meet regularly with DC Attorney General Karl Racine to discuss their prosecutorial approach.

 

Community Questions

Q: I feel unsafe with the number of weapons in the room right now. How do you expect us to feel safe?

Councilmember Nadeau: I always try to create a safe space and I hope people feel safe now that the meeting has started. This comment underlines that people interact with police in different ways. The hope for tonight is to have a positive interaction with police to come together and build community. Our aim is not to create an uncomfortable space.

 

Q: What are the biggest obstacles between police and community relations and what is being done to help?

Chief Newsham: The biggest obstacle is communication. On both sides. We often feel like we’re misunderstood and we couch that with the fact that many in our community have reason not to trust us. What I’ve tried to do is continue trying to communicate with the community in positive ways. There are many good people in the police department. For the people in the department who make law enforcement officers look bad: that is disgraceful to us and that’s the way we feel. This kind of meeting is helpful. You can believe me or not based on your level of trust. I will work to get answers to questions.

 

Q: For the US Attorney, on supervised release, what is done to keep the public safe given that there are those not incarcerated?

Mr. Kemp: One of the things our office pushes for is individuals monitored by GPS devices. We can locate them easily. They charge by battery and it will lose charge and that’s a separate additional legal charge and if they tamper with it. We can ask someone be held if they do this. DC Council has made the law more usable.

 

Q: For the Commanders, what kind of business owners do to help prevent crime and violence?

Commander Griffin: The camera rebate program has been incredibly useful to us. A lot of times, an officer (even in other districts) recognizes someone from a video. Communication between business owners and managers is always good, sharing best practices. Businesses have the right to bar certain individuals that are causing a problem, and MPD can assist with that process.

Commander Emerman: We went to some businesses to figure out why they’re being targeted, sometimes it was posters/other items that were blocking line of sight.

 

Q: For Director McFadden, how many acts of violence are directly related to a previous act of violence?

Director McFadden: It depends on how you define it, but it’s a lot. People exposed to violence will commit acts themselves.

 

Q: Why is it important to intervene at hospital?

Director McFadden: We want to get to an individual early so they don’t retaliate. After they leave the hospital we continue to provide wraparound services, maybe relocate them to somewhere more safe.

 

Q: How will ONSE get community input?

Director McFadden: Currently we talk to deputies/COS, but also after we have prevention/intervention contracts, each ward will have a dedicated organization that will work on a block-to-block level.

 

Q: Does the pathways program work with veterans?

Director McFadden: Most definitely. If we have someone that fits, we’ll work with them.

 

Q: How can DPR unite MPD with the community and others?

Mr. Holloway: It’s about increasing lines of communication between these groups which is something that we strive to do.

 

Q: Why is there not yet full compliance with the NEAR act and use of force information?

Chief Newsham: These sometimes get confused; MPD is not trying to hide information from the public so we can continue to use force. One portion of the NEAR Act that hasn’t been completed is data collection. Some of the requirements are to collect data that we currently don’t collect. A more difficult piece is that information is already collected but is done so in silos, like the specifics of stops. It’s currently done in a narrative format that’s difficult to aggregate but we’re in the progress of pulling empirical data out of those narratives. These things are in the progress of being accomplished now, I wish it had happened sooner but a lot of it is an IT issue. We’d like to have this data as much as anyone else would. Regarding use of force data, a report recently came out. One of the headlines that came out is that a high % of force used is against young black men. Almost exclusively force is used in arrest situations. Of 30k arrests there were ~990 uses of force (3 percent) – in 4 percent of that 3 percent we had to use ‘serious’ force – taser, firearm, etc. What we need to look at is whether or not force is excessive, that’s something we won’t tolerate.

 

Q: What about accountability of officers?

Chief Newsham: When we discipline officers, we try to ensure that the behavior doesn’t repeat itself. If the misconduct was so severe, we try to separate them from the force, but this requires a lot of due process because of government employment.

 

Q: How much training do MPD officers get?

Chief Newsham: Required to have at least 40 hours every year, with additional training for all the devicies they have, CPR training, etc.

 

Q: What is MPD doing on the uptick in hate crimes?

Chief Newsham: They have been increasing in recent years. However, most of them are not towards people but are destruction of property/graffiti/etc. A special liaison unit created deals with underserved communities, work with them and try to bring folks into custody.

 

Q: Are the police aware of the impact they make in the community?

Chief Newsham: In some cases yes, some cases no. We’re aware because of the uniform that we’re noticed. We understand there’s no place to go where we won’t be on camera

 

Additional Answers from Chief Newsham

Because Chief Newsham was not able to get to all the questions in the allotted time, he collected the remaining questions and provided written answers following the event. He also elaborated on the questions asked above. His responses are below.

 

Are the police aware of the impact they make?

I believe that our officers are aware of the impact they have on the community, both positively and negatively. Our Department strives to treat all of our residents and visitors with respect, and provide them with the assistance they need. We always hope and aim to make a positive impact in the lives of everyone we encounter and are always looking to improve in those areas where we are not as strong. 

One of the reasons why I feel comfortable around the police is because they pass out McDonald’s on a neighborhood where I lived. Is there any way we could bring back those gracious acts?

While I can’t speak to that specific gracious act, we are quickly moving into the summer months—a time when you may see our officers out and about a bit more because school is out and the Department and city are holding a variety of fun activities. Every year MPD implements our Summer Crime Initiative (SCI) which focuses on violent crime prevention with a large community outreach component. During the SCI we work with our partner agencies to coordinate activities like movie nights and bike rides. Additionally, every summer, we partner with local social service agencies and community vendors to hold “Beat the Streets” which is a traveling Community Festival promoting public safety, health, and education events. We hope to see you out there!

Maybe you could break down the duties of an SPO Officer, MPD and transit officers and security. I have been told that only MPD can arrest.

This is a great question. There are a number of different law enforcement and security officers with various jurisdictional responsibilities.

  • Senior Police Officers

MPD employs senior police officers. These are retired members of MPD who have come back to the Department. They have full arrest authorities and are members of MPD.

  • Special Police Officers

Different organizations within the city employ SPOs, which are special police officers. SPOs are generally private security guards with arrest powers, but only within their specific location. SPOs cannot arrest an individual if that individual is not physically located in the area where the SPO is employed to protect. SPOs may be armed or unarmed.

  • Security Officers

Security officers are generally private employees who maintain physical security in a particular jurisdiction (complex, building, etc.) They are unarmed and do not arrest powers, but they observe and report.

  • Metro Transit Police Officers

Metro Transit Police Officers have jurisdiction and arrest powers in Maryland, Virginia, and the District of Columbia for crimes that occur in or against Transit facilities.

MPD works closely with all law enforcement and security agencies to serve and protect residents and visitors of the District of Columbia.

What are we doing to combat the uptick in hate crime against the LGBT community in DC? (Citing the recent incidents in U St Corridor)

The District and MPD take hate crimes very seriously. Our Special Liaison Branch works to support victims of crime, particularly hate crimes, and to build relationships with communities that have historically been underserved and are too often targets of hate crimes. Police departments from around the country and the world visit MPD to learn more about SLB. The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Unit (LGBTLU) within the Special Liaison Branch is dedicated to working with members of the LGBT Community, as well as serving as an internal resource for other MPD units, including the detectives who investigate all crimes, including hate crimes. 

Regarding MPD training, how effective do you feel it is and how is the effectiveness/success measured?

The Department and the Metropolitan Police Academy work hard to ensure that our training is effective and meets our policing requirements as well as aligns with what our community needs from their police department. Every year we re-evaluate our training needs, closely analyzing operational trends and those challenges our officers face every day. We then refine our training to focus on those topics. This year, our Professional Development Training focuses on the Fourth Amendment and enforcing the law while respecting individual rights. The tactical training involves various scenarios that enable officers to adjust their ways of thinking and handling situations where Fourth Amendment rights could be unknowingly violated. We focus our efforts on providing fair and constitutional police services, while building strong relationships in our communities.

Despite training and continued education for MPD, there are numerous examples that point to a culture of aggression, toxic masculinity and impunity. Do you agree? If so, what concrete solutions do you envision?

(Additional related question: How can any new training be effective is there are no consequences or change to the toxic culture that allowed this behavior?)

It is very important for community members to inform us when they experience or hear of any examples of this type of behavior. As I have said before, we do not tolerate that type of culture at MPD and work hard to prevent an environment that fosters mistrust of any form. We do not believe this is the culture of our organization, and continue to train our officers on implicit bias and cultural competency. We also hold them accountable through our discipline process when they exhibit inappropriate behavior or advance a culture that does not align with our values. I encourage our community members to reach out to any officials within the Department, including me (peter.newsham@dc.gov), to discuss this topic as well as any examples so that the Department can continue to improve.  (See additional websites below)

 

MPD is bound by a regulation (6B DCMR 1308.3) that prohibits training in any facility that practices invidious discrimination, but according to a FOIA request filed by Jewish Voice for Peace- DC Metro, there are no measures in place inside MPD to implement this. Isn’t it time for civilian oversight?

This section of the DCMR relates to Training through Non-District Facilities. We have standards for MPD instructors and facilities, and all trainings and courses held at the Academy are vetted by staff comprising both sworn and civilian members. Any external training requests go through multiple layers of review before being approved or denied. As an agency, we make sure that any approved training (whether internal or external) is consistent with MPD’s values and those of the District of Columbia. 

How will your office, in conjunction with ONSE and OVPHE, work together to address on the surface and root level instances of violent crime so our citizens gain support, the situation de-escalates, and lives are saved instead of taken away.

We very much look forward to continuing our work with our government and community partners to address some of the root causes of our city’s crime. Much of the underlying causes for crime are related to behavioral and mental health, employment, education, housing, and other critical social issues. Agencies like OVSJG and the ONSE office are critical partners, and can either directly provide or support those organizations that provide the necessary services to address those underlying reasons for violence. Additionally, as a Department, we have refined our use of force training to include a greater focus on de-escalation, emphasizing our new mission that highlights the value that MPD places on the sanctity of human life. This training is provided not only to our recruits, but twice a year to all of our sworn members.

Since the Near Act passed in 2016, one of the key components was data collection. Yet for the last 2 years, MPD has not complied with the law laid out in the Near Act. Why and how should the community trust the MPD when they have not committed to full data collection transparency? If we don’t have data, we cannot address these issues.

The Department is fully committed to providing the data and information needed to comply with the NEAR Act. There are four parts of the NEAR Act that required MPD to provide data. The first part was to provide the Office of Police Complaints with independent review authority, and that required updates to our Personnel Performance Management System (PPMS) to ensure they were receiving updated data. This was implemented in 2016. Further updates were required to PPMS to fully capture use of force data in a format that satisfied the second portion of the NEAR Act requirement. This was implemented in January 2018. The third part was to provide crime and arrest data to inform a report on crime victims, suspects, and court outcomes. This was implemented in October 2017. Finally, the fourth part requires the collection of data for police stops. The Department currently collects almost all of this data, however a portion is in an unstructured, narrative format; and therefore this information is not easily shared or reported without jeopardizing the privacy rights of involved members of the public. However, we publically released those fields that are contained in structured fields on our open data website (found here). Additionally, there is a portion of data that is not collected by MPD, but is collected by the Department of Motor Vehicle (DMV). We are working closely with our technology team and the DMV to best determine how to meet the requirements. We are committed to providing this data to the extent feasible, and believe strongly in providing the community with accurate and reliable information.

At DC’s recent police oversight hearing, Police Chief Peter Newsham referred to trainings that he has done with the Israeli military. Given that several international organizations have found that the Israeli military violates human rights, and given recent violence in Gaza, I am uncomfortable with that training. Why does the DC Police Chief train with the Israeli military?

This opportunity to look at how another country deals with terror threats is sponsored by the Anti-Defamation League, a national and international organization to promote civil rights. It is designed for decision makers and security professionals to educate them about the experiences of Israel in working in cyber security; critical infrastructure protection; emergency preparedness and management; and intelligence, counter terrorism, and law enforcement response. The program is in partnership with the Israeli police, not the military, and is primarily delivered as short seminars with various groups, including Palestinian police leadership, and division of the Israeli police that works to recruit Arab-Israelis. This training is an opportunity to understand these topics from a variety of perspectives, including community leaders, businesses, government, families, and victims.

Can you be specific in how many hours of annual containing education training is devoted to:

  • The law (specifically the 4th amendment)
  • Firearms
  • Other weapons
  • Mental illness
  • Gender and sexuality competency
  • Domestic violence
  • De-escalation

The Metropolitan Police Academy provides a robust training and professional development curriculum for MPD. All sworn members are required to go through a multi-day, classroom and scenario-based Professional Development Training (PDT) each year. The curriculum may vary every year depending on regular assessments; however, there are some consistent topics across the years (i.e., firearms, weapons, de-escalation, and law, among them). In addition, members are required to complete a variety of online training modules throughout the year, which provide instruction in a video and/or narrated slide-based format, on topics of interest or priority for the Department. Finally, the Academy offers dozens of specialized, elective training courses designed to focus on specific skill enhancement.

In 2017, Professional Development Training included instruction on Tactical Emergency Casualty Care (TECC) Practical Scenarios, Tactical Training Center (which includes active shooter and scenario based learning modules), WALES Recertification, and Defensive Tactics.

In addition, the following online modules were required for all sworn members:

Mandatory Online Training for All Sworn Members

2017- Stun Gun Regulation Emergency Amendment Act

2017-Sectors Strategy Training

2017- 58th Presidential Inaugural Training

2017 - Autism

2017 – BWC Evaluation

2017 – DC Safe Support for Empowerment

2017 – Drive to Arrive

2017 – ECD for Non-Users

2017 – Epilepsy and Seizure Response for Law Enforcement

2017 – Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) and Sexual Harassment

2017 – Language Access Program

2017 – Missing Persons Audit

2017 – Mobile Responder Training

2017 – MPD Missing Persons Reports

2017 – New Field Training Officer Program

2017 – Recruiting Information

2017 – Ride Along Program Training

2017 – Searches, Warrants, and Body-Worn Cameras

2017 – Wales Recertification

2017 – DC Streetcar Introduction

In 2016, the Council passed the Neighborhood Engagement Achieves Results Amendment Act (NEAR Act). One provision of the Act codified existing MPD training. Some examples of 2017 training, which also met the NEAR Act requirements, are as follows.

2017 – Compassion in Law Enforcement Training (Daily Roll Call Training)

2017 – Professional Policing Series (ACADIS)

2017 – Legitimacy and Procedural Justice (Daily Roll Call Training)

2017 – National Museum of African American History & Culture (8hr pilot expanded to all members in 2018)

2017 – Implicit Bias (Daily Roll Call Training)

2017 – Standard of Proof for a Stop or Frisk (Daily Roll Call Training)

2017 - Firearms training twice a calendar year

2017 - Dealing with People in Crisis Scenarios (PDT and ECD Training)

2017 - Processing and Housing Transgender Arrestees (Daily Roll Call Training)

 

As it does each year, the Academy offered dozens of specialized elective training courses in 2017, focusing on education, certification, and recertification. The size and scope of these trainings vary by the audience, and provide critical development training of sworn and civilian members across the Department.

Please state what you will do with the statistic that 89% of use of force complaints against MPD were filed by black people, and 80% of stops involved black people?

First, it should be noted that MPD rarely uses force in its operations. In 2017, our members interacted with individuals in the city on more than 600,000 calls for service, 33,000 arrests, and thousands of conversations with the public. At the same time, there were fewer than 1,000 officer uses of force involving people. Of that, 1 percent involved the use of a firearm against a person, 1 percent involved the use of a Taser, and 4 percent involved the use of an asp. The vast majority of uses of force – more than nine out of ten – involved lower levels such as hand controls and tactical take downs. 

However, one of the realities of policing is that there are instances when some element of force may be necessary. In these situations, our officers are trained to use the minimal amounts of force, and to do so safely and respectfully. However, force may be appropriate in some interactions. A critical question in examining uses of force is whether it was appropriate and justified.

As a Department, we caution against drawing conclusions based on simplistic comparisons of demographics. The table below shows the consistency in demographics across various types of police action. Additionally, maps of the data for stops and frisks, major crimes, and arrests for major crimes also show the consistency in location.[1]

 

Use of Force (FY2016)

Stop & Frisk (2016)

Major Crimes
Look Outs (2013)

Major Arrests

(2016)

Race

 

 

 

 

Black

89%

83%

93%

89%

White

5%

9%

1%

7%

Asian

 

0%

<1%

<1%

Other/Unknown

6%

8%

6%

3%

Gender

 

 

 

 

Male

85%

88%

89%

81%

Female

16%

10%

8%

19%

Other/Unknown

0%

2%

3%

1%

Lastly, MPD consistently and proactively works to implement best practices with regard to community policing and race, with a focus on hiring, training, and accountability. Over the past several years, we have strengthened hiring practices to better identify and weed out candidates who exhibit bias. Strategies include asking questions related to bias during initial screening, comprehensive vetting of public social media, and asking personal references questions about whether the candidate has exhibited bias. Psychological testing is also conducted by licensed professionals, and assesses a range of behavioral matters, including bias or prejudice.

We have revamped training on use of force to provide more focus on de-escalation, emphasizing our new mission that highlights the value that MPD places on the sanctity of human life. We train current and recruit members on the importance of procedural justice and identifying their own implicit bias. This training included launching an innovative partnership with the National Museum for African American History and Culture to immerse officers in issues related to the complex relationship between African American communities and law enforcement. And, as you know, MPD implemented the largest deployment of body-worn cameras to ensure that police-community interactions are recorded so that there is accountability for behavior during these contacts. 

Although members are allowed to use force if the situation calls for it, it is obviously not our go to method for solving issues. We take all complaints of excess force seriously, and investigate each one.

How will you and your office rebuild the trust with communities who deeply distrust your ability to keep them safe, namely the black communities?

MPD focuses on building positive relationships with the communities each day. My consistent message to our members is that they have earn the trust by making every single interaction a positive one, if possible, but always a respectful one. In addition, we connect with the community through hundreds of outreach programs opportunities per year, and making our officers available and approachable for all members of the community. We are here to protect and serve the citizens of the District of Columbia, regardless of their gender, race, ethnicity, sexual identity, where they came from, etc. We strive to provide the best service to everyone who needs it, and we are always working to improve ourselves and improve the relationships we have with our residents.

You talk about communication, trust, and how officer misconduct is “a disgrace”. This past summer, we learned 2 entire units- 7D Powershift and Gun Recovery Unit- displayed racist and violent logos in court and online. None have been fired, only 2 complaints were sustained. Without accountability, transparency or consequence for misconduct, how can the public trust the police?

That incident is one example of how poor decisions can influence our community’s perspective on police. As I have said before, our community’s trust is critical to our ongoing work and we take seriously any incidents that may undermine the confidence the community has in our members. This particular example does not represent the hard working and committed officers of the Seventh District or the Department. While it was clear that the imagery was inappropriate and unacceptable, there were also allegations that the images were racist. We consulted with outside experts, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL). The ADL Center on Extremism examined pictures of the images and determined that this symbol in question – an “O” that included a Celtic cross in the middle – was part of a relatively common font set. They concluded that it was unlikely that there was any racist intent. After a thorough internal investigation of all members involved, appropriate discipline was assessed based on the findings.

I very much appreciate your bringing up initiatives to undertake a holistic approach to supporting (both at the root and on the surface) our citizens in terms of safety. You mentioned a new anti-bias training program that MPD is not supposed to meddle in immigration, and its drive to support high crime areas (which are mainly black). Sanctuary DMV, as well as other community organizations, have noted numerous times where MPD officers have used force or intimidated undocumented immigrants (or those who look like them) and escalated situations to violence instead of calling for more help. How can citizens demand accountability for officers that do this, beyond the complaint system, so that they are held accountable at the public level?

It is very important for community members to inform us when they experience or hear of any examples of this type of behavior. As I have said before, we work hard to prevent an environment that fosters mistrust of any form, and we thoroughly investigate any allegations of this nature. MPD has a longstanding policy that we do not ask individuals about immigration or residency status. We are not involved with ICE civil immigration enforcement. It should be noted that when there have been allegations of this nature in the past, it was found that they involved other law enforcement agencies in the District. Regardless, if community members are not comfortable coming directly to MPD, they have the ability to register complaints with the Office of Police Complaints (OPC), a third party that investigates certain types of complaints.

  • How to File a Citizen Complaint or Commendation at MPD (Website here)
  • Office of Police Complaints (Website here)

 

 

[1] The use of force demographics came from the report of the Office of Police Complaints so we do not have the details in the location to exactly match with their dataset.