WASHINGTON (WDVM) — The D.C. Council met on Thursday, October 15, to discuss three topics relating to law enforcement and policing in The District of Columbia. The Metropolitan Police Department and other law enforcement officials were present.
The three topics discussed at the meeting were The Comprehensive Policing and Justice Reform Amendment Act, The Rioting Modernization Act and The Internationally Banned Chemical Weapon Prohibition Act.
Over the hours long conversation, concerns and questions were raised to Police Chief Peter Newsham by members of D.C. Council. Some of the concerns included people being charged with rioting when they are innocent bystanders, the difference between someone exercising their first amendment right to protest and someone breaking the law and tear gas/other methods being used by law enforcement on individuals at protests.
Police Chief Newsham noted multiple times that his office joins elected officials in welcoming peaceful protests, but he also said that the number one priority when violence breaks out is to put a stop to it and keep it from spreading through the city.
Chief Newsham also noted that he agreed with the council on many of the changes they recommended and that the legislation would bring, however he urged councilmembers to hold off on making a decision right away, as he believes the acts could be fine tuned a bit. He said, “If we don’t stop people who are rioting in the city, they’re going to continue to riot and cause damage to property, and we’re going to see the types of things we saw. I unfortunately agree with my law enforcement partners that no matter who wins the election on November 3, we are going to see that type of activity in the District of Columbia.
Ultimately, the Council will have to come back together to make a decision on the permanent future with these topics and local law enforcement.