Concerns over police brutality and misconduct have led lawmakers in Washington D.C. to look into changes that would provide more oversight and accountability. This comes as a part of larger national reforms and movements to defund police departments.
Local lawmakers present a number of changes that they believe will reduce police brutality
Most of the changes are related to use of force rules, review by civilians, and quicker and easier procedures to terminate officers who engage in misconduct. Some of the more specific changes include more extensive use of body cameras and procedures to review the footage, the ban of neck restraints, and making the use of rubber bullets and chemical irritants illegal.
The police chief for the District of Columbia said that some of the changes are welcomed, but he does not want to change too much too quickly. His agency still wants to discuss the new regulations more thoroughly with the council before any broad policy changes are made. The chief further warned that some of these reforms seemed to be a knee jerk reaction to the George Floyd murder rather than a balanced approach that would be more effective.
Washington D.C. has already undergone a number of law enforcement reforms in the last decade, and supporters of the police now claim that their policing model should be an example to cities all around the country. The Democrat leader of the council said that the national outrage and other special circumstances that are unique to this point in history warrant quick, sweeping changes. He also added that perpetrators of serious crimes like murder would not be given any additional leniency or protections under the reforms.
Labor unions will mostly be eliminated from the review process when the chief is making a decision regarding whether to fire an officer for misconduct. For years police unions in D.C. and other cities have essentially controlled the disciplinary process for police through a series of collective bargaining agreements. This created obvious concerns about corruption and favoritism. The reforms clearly state that unions should not shield corrupt or abusive officers from accountability. The union countered by saying that they have their own processes to ensure neutrality and balanced judgement in their decisions. However, the union’s mandatory arbitration process has made it very easy to have a decision to fire an officer overturned.
The reform measures were initially passed for 90 days, but they must be reviewed and voted into law at a later time to become permanent.
Get help from a police brutality attorney
An attorney who practices in the District of Columbia can review any incident involving police misconduct or unnecessary use of force. To get assistance today, find a professional through the listings on USAttorneys.com.