D.C. Passes ‘Emergency’ Police Reform, Gives Voting Rights to the Incarcerated

WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 26: Police stand by as protesters for and against the removal of the Emancipation Memorial debate in Lincoln Park on June 26, 2020 in Washington, DC. The Army has activated 400 unarmed Washington D.C. National Guard troops in an effort to protect monuments amid the ongoing …
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The District of Columbia Council has passed what is being referred to as emergency legislation to reform D.C.’s policing just weeks after George Floyd died at the hands of Minneapolis police.

The bill, which will be formalized in the fall, calls for a laundry list of reforms, including giving voting rights to jailed residents and making numerous changes to how police conduct searches and make arrests.

The latest bill comes after the council okayed another bill on June 9 that would have gone into effect on Tuesday.

WUSA9 reported on the development:

Under the original bill, the police department would have been forced to turn over the names and footage of any officer involved in a deadly incident. The department now has five days to do so and has an Aug. 15 deadline to release the names and footage of any officer involved in such incident since body cameras were put in place in 2014.

The revision also allows family members of those killed to prevent any footage from going public. Also included in that revision is use of force. Originally, officers would only have been allowed to use force to apprehend a suspect if there was probable cause they committed a crime. After concerns from Metropolitan Police Chief Peter Newsham, that language has been removed.

Last month’s legislation banning the MPD’s use of tear gas on protesters, banning the hiring of police officers with a history of misconduct, and making all matters pertaining to police discipline non-negotiable will remain the same.

The D.C. Police Union panned the June 9 bill, claiming it puts police at a dangerous disadvantage when enforcing the law. The first bill was also passed without any public testimony.

“It’s beyond comprehension that an entire deliberative body of legislators would so hastily make such extreme changes without the proper input and review,” the union statement said.

“What we saw today was a disservice to the citizens of the District of Columbia who have been plagued with violent crime for years,” the statement said. “The Councilmembers are seizing on the public sentiment to impose these changes that will significantly handicap the department for years to come.”

The statement also said the bill made it “incredibly more difficult to charge a suspect with assaulting a police officer.”

The local report did not include a response from the union to the latest legislation.

The Comprehensive Policing and Justice Reform Amendment Act 2020 was authored by Judiciary Chair Charles Allen.

“If we can’t do it now, I don’t know when we’re going to do it,” Allen said in the WUSA9 report.

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