Policy Statement on Divestment from Metropolitan Police Department
Washington, DC has more police officers-per-capita than any other major city in the United States and is home to more than two dozen police agencies. Metropolitan Police Department commands a budget–projected at $568 million for FY21– exponentially larger than agencies tasked with crucial community needs, such as housing, behavioral health, employment services, and public health. Despite this massive investment, DC’s homicide rate is outpacing years past, and it is clear that MPD’s approach to public safety is racist and ineffective.
Recent analysis by the ACLU of MPD’s stop-and-frisk practices reveal flagrant racial profiling–with 72% of stops targeting Black people, and only 0.8% of stops resulting in seizure of a weapon. Moreover, MPD has a history of misconduct and use of excessive force including: repeated deployment of riot gear, and brutalization of peaceful protestors; sexual assault; and officer-involved and obfuscated killings of Black DC residents such as D’quan Young, Jeffrey Price, Terrence Sterling, Marqueese Alston and others. DC has one of the least transparent and most obstructive police contracts in the country, making accountability for misconduct incredibly difficult.
In spite of recent legislation proffering several reforms, including a ban on the use of chemical irritants, non-lethal projectiles, and riot gear on First Amendment assemblies, MPD continues to deploy these tools of war in the brutalization of protestors. The enacted provisions, though well-intended, are proving to be inconsequential to a police force that operates without concern for the law or any level of accountability. It is clear that more serious and mindful action is needed, and groups such as Black Lives Matter DC, Black Swan Academy, Stop Police Terror Project, BYP100 DC, and They/Them Collective have been at the forefront in these calls for justice and reimagining public safety.
Backed by this context, I pledge to work towards the following measures if elected:
- Divest meaningfully from Metropolitan Police Department by rerouting funds to community-based violence prevention initiatives and affordable housing, behavioral health programs, employment services and education
- Decouple civilian and social worker-appropriate responsibilities from MPD as well as certain sworn functions, such as Internal Affairs and Crime Scene Investigation
- De-police DC schools and re-invest funds in school technology, behavioral health, special needs programs and food and nutrition programs
- Demilitarize MPD by establishing an inventory and disposal plan for MPD’s military and riot equipment, and ending any participation in military-style training for officers
- Prohibit collaboration with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)
- Oppose the construction of a new jail in DC
- Ban stop-and-frisk policing practices
- Request Chief Peter Newsham’s resignation
- Establish stricter oversight of Metro Transit Police and Special Police, as proposed by recent legislation
- Propose the transfer of authority over several local DC parks from U.S. Park Police
- Make MPD’s budget publicly transparent and accessible
- Audit and evaluate MPD’s FTE demands and other large expenditures
- Remove obstructive language from MPD’s contract that prevents accountability for misconduct and excessive use of force, and dissolve the qualified immunity defense
- End police harassment of sex workers, street vendors, and homeless residents