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  • Writer's pictureCLPA Policy Staff

Bill Report: B25-0164, the Comprehensive Policing and Justice Reform Temporary Amendment Act of 2023

Since the 2020 murder of George Floyd, discussions surrounding police reform and accountability have gained significant momentum. In response to this and other events, the DC Council introduced the Comprehensive Policing and Justice Reform Emergency Act of 2023 which expires on June 22nd. This bill aims to implement comprehensive reforms to improve policing practices, enhance transparency, and strengthen the justice system.

Today the DC Council, during their Legislative Meeting, is scheduled to discuss B25-0164: Comprehensive Policing and Justice Reform Temporary Amendment Act of 2023, which extends B25-0163, the Comprehensive Policing and Justice Reform Emergency Amendment Act of 2023, to October 1st, 2023. This bill has created much discussion in the DC area and Congress, which reviews all legislation passed by the Council under the Home Rule Act before it can become law. Recently the US Senate voted on a resolution to repeal B25-0163, which received bipartisan support. The US House has already taken steps to block the bill. However, it is worth noting that President Joe Biden had expressed his intention to veto any resolution that would impede the bill's progress if it reached his desk.

Let's delve into the critical provisions of this bill and their potential impact on the District. CLPA will provide a vote report on this bill once the Legislative Meeting concludes:

1. Body-Worn Camera Recordings and Transparency:

One crucial aspect of the bill addresses law enforcement officers' use of body-worn cameras. The amendments lay out clear guidelines to ensure the responsible use of this technology while promoting transparency. The bill establishes a ban on neck restraints, imposes penalties for violations, and amends related laws to reflect this prohibition.

Furthermore, the bill outlines specific procedures for releasing body-worn camera recordings in certain circumstances. The Chairperson of the Council Committee overseeing the Metropolitan Police Department can request unredacted copies of recordings within five business days. However, the Chairperson or the Council cannot publicly disclose these recordings.

The Mayor must also publicly release the names and body-worn camera recordings of officers involved in officer-involved deaths or serious use of force within five business days of the incident. Additionally, the Mayor can release other recordings not typically accessible through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request based on significant public interest and consultation with relevant authorities.

2. Strengthening the Office of Police Complaints:

To enhance police oversight and address citizen complaints against the police, the bill proposes changes to the composition and powers of the Police Complaints Board. The Board will be expanded from five to nine members, ensuring representation from each ward and an at-large member. Notably, no members of law enforcement agencies can be memebrs of the Board.

These amendments aim to strengthen the Office of Police Complaints by increasing its oversight capabilities, ensuring diverse representation on the Police Complaints Board, and empowering the Executive Director to address instances of misconduct and abuse of police powers more effectively.

3. Repeal of the Anti-Mask Law:

The bill includes a provision for the repeal of the Anti-Mask Law, which prohibits the wearing of masks or disguises in public. By eliminating this specific provision, the bill recognizes the evolving landscape and priorities related to law enforcement practices in District 11.

4. Limitations on Consent Searches:

This section introduces limitations on consent searches conducted by law enforcement in the District. It outlines specific procedures law enforcement officers must follow when conducting searches based solely on consent. These searches cannot be executed with a warrant or under any other exception to the warrant requirement.

Officers must clearly explain the voluntary nature of the search, inform the subject of their right to refuse consent, obtain consent without coercion, and confirm the subject's understanding. Special provisions are also made for individuals who require interpretation services.

5. Mandatory Continuing Education and Police Standards:

The bill emphasizes the importance of ongoing education and training for law enforcement officers. It expands the training requirements to include topics such as biased-based policing, de-escalation tactics, and awareness of issues like racism and white supremacy. The prohibition of neck restraints is also incorporated into the training standards.

Additionally, the bill reconstitutes the Police Officers Standards and Training (POST) Board to ensure diverse representation and expertise in overseeing law enforcement practices and training standards.


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