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  • Writer's pictureCenter for Local Policy Analysis (CLPA)

DC Council Unanimously Passes Emergency Police and Justice Reform Measure

Updated: Mar 10, 2021

Recently the DC Council took an unprecidented step in address polict and justive reform by passing emergency legislation in to address some of the cities most hot buttom social justice topics. It should be noted that this is law is not a perminant and did not have a hearing to the dismay of many of the measures detractors but it is in effect. Emergency legislation or "temporary legislation" such as this requires two votes, and is in effect for 225 days. Like permanent legislation in the District, this bill must passively lay over before Congress as well.

In response to the passage of this bill the council made this statement:

"Given the urgent need, and intense public demand for action, emergency legislation was the appropriate first step. The absence of a hearing on the topic was mitigated by the fact that most if not all of the reforms included in the bill had either previously been discussed at length in the past on the Judiciary Committee level, and/or they were best practices borrowed from other municipalities. Regardless, when the permanent legislation comes up for consideration, there will be extensive opportunity for all those concerned, from the police to the public, to speak out on all details of the bill."

As passed the emergency bill:

  • Bans chokeholds and neck restraints by police and special police

  • Requires the release, within 72 hours, of body-worn camera footage after any officer-involved death or serious use of force, requires release of footage from past shootings, and bans officers from reviewing it prior to drafting crime reports

  • Prohibits use of tear gas, pepper spray, riot gear, rubber bullets and stun grenades by MPD (or federal police while on non-federal land) in response to First Amendment protests

  • Bans the hiring of officers fired for (or who resigned facing charges of) police misconduct or other serious disciplinary measures

  • Modifies the composition of the Police Complaints Board, moving from a five-member board with one Metropolitan Police Department representative, to a nine-member board with one member from each Ward, plus an at-large member, and no police representatives

  • Repeals the District’s mask ban legislation

  • Creates a 20-member Police Reform Commission

  • Requires that all MPD personnel working at a First Amendment protest wear identification indicating they are with local (as opposed to federal) law enforcement

  • Ensures the right to a jury trial in cases where assaulting a police officer is alleged

  • Limits and details what constitutes unlawful police use of force, and how it will be dealt with

  • Bans MPD from purchasing military equipment from the federal government

  • Requires the Department of Corrections to provide voter registration forms, voter guides, and absentee ballots to everyone in the Department’s care

  • Requires the Department of Corrections to conduct a weekly review of all those in its care to determine who might be ready to transition to home confinement

  • Clarifies that collective bargaining agreements cannot be used to shield employees from accountability and discipline

  • Requires additional training of officers on topics including racism and white supremacy


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