(Washington, DC) – The National Policing Institute (the Institute) today, released its independent review of the Metropolitan Police Department’s (MPD) protest threat assessment process and whether bias is used to plan for First Amendment demonstrations. This review was conducted as a result of the Bias in Threat Assessments Evaluation Amendment Act of 2021.
The Bias in Threat Assessments Evaluation Amendment Act of 2021 (the Act) is legislation that was introduced by the Council of the District of Columbia in collaboration with the Office of Police Complaints and required an independent, non-partisan and research-based organization to conduct the review. The Institute was selected to conduct the review of MPD and the influence of bias in managing protests from January 2017 – January 2021.
The Institute examined all the available data requested in the Act, including MPD arrest data, public and officer injury data, type of injury reports, fatality numbers, officer deployment data, tactical and type of weaponry used, and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) terrorist watchlist data.
During its review, the Institute found that the data specified in the Act provided limited value in determining bias in the threat assessment process used by MPD to plan for First Amendment demonstrations and revealed more about officers and the event participant behaviors.
As a result, the Institute took additional steps to analyze the Department’s threat assessment process, including:
- Reviewing relevant MPD policies, procedures, reports and other documents relevant to threat assessment and response to First Amendment demonstrations;
- Interviewing MPD personnel involved with the threat assessment process;
- Reviewing each step of the process with subject matter experts;
- Comparing the MPD threat assessment process with the processes of other law enforcement agencies of similar size; and
- Conducting analysis of the Civil Disturbance Unit (CDU) manuals using inductive thematic content analysis..
Through further analysis, the Institute did not find any signs of bias in the data provided by MPD or in the threat assessment process used to prepare for protests in the District. Additionally, the Institute found that overall MPD’s threat assessment process is in line with practices in other major city law enforcement agencies, however the Department lacks resources and well-defined First Amendment demonstration policies and procedures.
To that end, the Institute recommended several ways that will increase transparency, resourcing, and the structure of MPD’s threat assessment process, including improvements in staffing, training, process, and bias reduction strategies.
To view the full report and findings, visit www.policecomplaints.dc.gov.