WASHINGTON (WDVM) — The D.C. Police Reform Commission released their final report on Thursday, April 1. The 259 page report has about 90 recommendations that will transform policing in the District, and over 30 of the recommendations are aimed directly at the Metropolitan Police Department.
Robert Bobb, the Police Reform Commission Co-Chair, said, “We believe passionately that our recommendations should be considered seriously and implemented, some immediately, but over a period of time.” The recommendations are split into three categories: strengthening the safety net to keep people from falling into crisis, taking a multi-faceted approach to public safety and violence prevention that involves more than a police response and direct changes to M.P.D. that will lead to a more effective and accountable culture.
Patrice Sulton with the Police Reform Commission explained, “(Some recommendations include) moving some of the responsibilities from traffic enforcement to the Department of Transportation, banning no known warrants and ending qualified immunity.” Christy Lopez, the other co-chair for the commission, explained more recommendations. She said, “We have many recommendations designed to give people more options besides just a police response when they need help.”
Some of the recommendations could completely change how D.C. Police operate. Not only are there recommendations to take police completely out of certain areas, like public schools, but the commission wants there to be more access to mental health professionals, rather than police. Pastor Delonte Gholston said, “Community based, BIPOC led, community organizations need to take the lead and really loving on our own communities and connecting our own communities to essential services.”
While one of the goals is to downsize the police force, the report does not list the perfect number of officers for the District. Samantha Davis with the commission said, “Our hope is to reduce the footprint of police in our communities, eliminate them in schools, and to overall invest and ensure that young people are supported, loved and treated in dignity and respect.”
The commission also recommends ending the Gun Recovery and Crime Suppression units. Sulton said, “It would be a huge mistake to suggest that we are recommending stripping the department of the tools it needs to combat serious crime. There is an important difference between feeling safe and being safe. The fact is that some of the aggressive tactics used to hunt drugs and guns are making us less safe.”
The Council will be holding public hearings on the commission’s recommendations before any decisions are made on implementation. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson said, “We should, every one of us, look seriously at these recommendations because in the end the goal is how to we protect the community, both in terms of safety and liberty, and how do we ensure more effective policing.”