Tomorrow, the D.C. Council's Judiciary Committee and Committee of the Whole will hold a public hearing on the recommendations in the recently released report by the D.C. Police Reform Commission and other policing bills introduced by Councilmembers in recent months.
The ACLU-DC will be testifying at this hearing. We'll focus on a few reforms and investments that the Council should take up immediately to decenter police in the District's approach to public safety. Here's what we're thinking:
This District must overhaul its approach to public safety. We will urge the Council to make significant investments in non-police crisis intervention services, violence prevention and interruption programs, mental health and substance abuse resources, affordable housing, and supports for students in schools in the Fiscal Year 2022 budget. We will also testify in support of restrictions on harmful police practices like stop-and-frisk, jump-outs, warrantless searches, excessive use of force, and the use of weapons and tactics that violate the rights of those engaging in in First Amendment activities.
Finally, we plan to testify in support of necessary reforms that will increase police accountability: changes to MPD's disciplinary procedures, transparency in internal investigations concerning police wrongdoing, and the need to end the legal defense of qualified immunity, which shields officers from liability even for egregious conduct.
In the wake of last summer's protests for racial justice and police accountability, it's critical that every agency and every Councilmember commit to the transformational change this moment calls for.
We hope you'll join us in speaking out and holding our government leaders accountable.
Policy Director, ACLU of the District of Columbia