DC Mayor Muriel Bowser (D) hosted a press conference Monday morning to announce new legislation and amendments to the Comprehensive Policing and Justice Amendment Act.
Among its provisions, the bill introduced Oct. 23 would provide the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) with several policy changes including ensuring that officers can review their body-worn camera footage prior to writing their initial police report in certain circumstances. It intends to clarify a distinction between a “serious use of force” and “incidental” contact with the neck. It also makes permanent policies around vehicular pursuit and defines what information about officer discipline will be posted publicly.
Bowser called these changes “plain common sense” in the District’s fight against crime and emphasized the importance of providing law enforcement with additional tools to hold criminals accountable and to promote public safety throughout the District.
Deputy Mayor for Public Safety and Justice Lindsey Appiah said these changes address a need for “balance” both providing the public with transparency and holding officers accountable for their actions and of privacy rights for officers.
If passed by the DC Council, the legislation would include policies that reinstate the ability of the MPD Chief to declare drug-free zones to help prohibit the purchase, sale or use of illegal drugs in public space, create criminal penalties for organized retail theft and reinstating the law that makes it unlawful to wear a mask for the purpose of committing a crime, causing fear or threatening other people.
“This legislation reflects what our community is telling us: they want appropriate accountability for those who choose to commit crimes and inflict fear in our neighborhoods,” Bowser said.
Appiah emphasized the importance of not just combating crime, but as a part of a larger effort to prevent it. “We are simply committed to working with our community and gov partners every day to make the city safer,” Appiah said.
Sarah Payne is a reporter for Capital Community News. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.